8 Pre-Conference Strategies To Engage Your Participants


A lot of energy, time and passion is put into planning a conference.

Many focus on all the onsite logistics running smoothly.

Seeing Conferences In A Ecosystem Of Customer Touchpoints

Conference participants focus on their experience. Their emotions range from the pre-conference anticipation and hype to the post-conference blues and exhaustion.

And often the conference ends abruptly. Everything comes to a jarring halt.

Some savvy conference organizers now see the face-to-face conference as one touchpoint in a series of customer touchpoints. They recognize that there is an ecosystem of customer experiences that start before the conference, happen during the conference and continue after the conference.

They don’t see their conference as a one-time customer experience. They integrate their annual event into series of customer experiences. Then, the conference doesn’t come to a jarring halt. Participants know that there is more to come just around the corner.

8 Ways To Create Pre-Conference Customer Touchpoints

Here are 8 ways to create customer touchpoints before the conference starts.

1. Pre-Conference Videos

Create a series of short video announcements including save the date, hotel headquarters announcements, keynote speaker announcements and more. Include short video- or audio-recorded testimonials from last year’s participants. If you’re short on video clips, use photos to create a customized video in Animoto.

2. Create a YouTube Conference Page

Post all of your pre-conference videos on this branded page. Encourage people to embed them on their blogs, websites or link to them on their Facebook page.

3. Conference Blog

Start a conference blog months in advance of the event. Create a calendar of blog posts and update the blog at least once a week. As you get closer to the event, (eight weeks or less), update more frequently. Include posts from speakers, thoughts from conference committee members, a post from the city mayor (move the welcome letter from the conference program to the blog), highlights of what to do in the city, etc.

4. Crowdsource Content

Upload topic suggestions from your conference committee and members. Ask attendees to vote on the topics. If you offer a call for proposals, put the session title, description and learning objectives online for voting. Use a crowdsourcing tool like Crowd Campaign. Consider the top three or five topics for a crowdsourced track.

5. Pre-Conference Webinars

When you are securing conference speakers, ask for a couple blog posts, a couple enews articles, a pre- and post conference webinar, a radio interview and more in the contract. Then schedule several speakers to hold pre-conference webinars several months in advance. Think of this strategy as content-marketing and a way to introduce new professional speakers and experts to your audience. Word of mouth marketing about these successful webinars will help create buzz for your face-to-face programs.

6. Create a Conference Radio Station

Use Blogtalkradio to create a free conference radio station. Schedule 15- to 30-minute interviews with speakers, board members, committee members and conference city headquarter reps weeks in advance of the event. People can listen live and call in or listen to the podcast or MP3 recordings. (Blogtalk automatically records the show.) You can embed the podcasts on your conference webiste.

7. Create a top 10 list of FAQs.

Use Vyou.com to video record your responses to these FAQs. Embed your conversational video on your conference website and share it through social networking sites. Or consider an Ask The Author video where attendees can ask speaker-author specific questions.

8. Create “I’m Attending” Digital Badges

Have your marketing or graphics department create “I’m Attending” digital badges that attendees can embed on their blogs, websites or Facebook pages. Provide the HTML code for the badge that links to the conference website.

What are some more ways to create customer touchpoints before the conference? What have you seen done successfully?

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  1. Great tips! I’m sure these will be helpful for anyone spearheading any type of conference. Here’s another helpful article which tackles on “two ways to use crowdsourcing for face-to-face conferences, http://www.crowdsourcing.org/l/554

  2. Katie Baird says:

    Superb list of tips.

    I think many of us know to do lots of these suggestions but how many actually do execute them? I especially love the Pre-Conference webinar idea AND asking presenters to do guest blog posts.

    Off to RT this.

    1. Jeff Hurt says:

      Thanks for reading and commenting. How many people are actually doing these things these days? I am seeing more and more conference organizers integrating pre-conference ideas into their strategies. Let’s hope more continue to do that.

  3. Jeff — Spot on! Thanks for the summary! We are 90 days out from our event and just released our (4) 90 Seconds to a Better BIO Videos. http://www.youtube.com/user/BIOchannel

    The freelancer who did these is willing to do more —he was easy to work with and spot on the budget! mcore@bio.org

    1. Jeff Hurt says:

      I really like your videos, 90 Seconds To A Better BIO. That’s a great example of amping up the pre-conference strategy and giving your attendees relevant information about improving their experience. Thanks for sharing those with us.

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