It’s rare to find a silver bullet that actually works.
And I’ve seen one lately.
The Registrant List As A Lure
For conference attendance acquisition, that bullet is the attendee list. The attendee list acts as a lure attracting those that have not registered yet. So let potential attendees see who else is already registered.
Your conference participants want to hang out with the cool kids. They want to be part of the in crowd. They want to capitalize on the hallway conversations and networking. They want to grow their professional connections — both in number and quality.
For most conferences, networking is one of the primary reasons why many register and attend. It’s why face-to-face trumps all other forms of engagement.
Sadly, many conference organizers don’t leverage the power of their attendance list. Some think the list needs to be kept proprietary or behind the membership wall.
In today’s digital world, nearly everyone already has an online profile that includes his or her company name. Go out on a limb and leverage the attendee list online, everywhere you’re placing your registration call to action. Or, on the registration form, ask registrants to opt-out of having their name and company visible as conference participants online. Then you can publish everyone’s name and company.
Four Ways To Provide The Registrant List
Here are four ways to consider providing that information:
1. PDF on your website.
This is one of the safest and easiest ways to publicize the list. It also is the most time consuming as it requires a weekly action.
On a weekly basis, download a list of all registrants to date and save as a PDF. Provide one version that is sorted alphabetical by last name and another version organized by company name. Omit contact information, including email and street addresses, and phone numbers.
Create a “Look Who’s Coming” link to this PDF for prospective registrants and exhibitors. Some registration companies are building who’s coming functionality into their offerings. If yours isn’t, encourage them to make it a high priority in the development pipeline.
2. LinkedIn and Facebook events.
Encourage your well-connected and veteran attendees to RSVP via the event features on one or both of these social platforms.
Set up a Facebook event that is connected to your Facebook conference page. Ask committee members and active volunteers to RSVP and post on the conference or event-page wall.
Depending upon the Facebook EdgeRank, the participant’s activity will show up in others’ news feeds. This viral impact can be substantial for you and personally valuable to the participants. Periodically post helpful content to the conference and event pages to give participants a reason to come back.
3. Matchmaking appointment-setting tools.
Technology providers are rolling out one-on-one appointment-setting or matchmaking tools faster than any of us can keep up. I’m really high on the ones that allow participants to import their LinkedIn account, leveraging their existing network and profile. Look for tools that encourage attendees to invite their existing connections to attend. For maximum adoption, train your stakeholders how to use these tools. Solutions that deliver value to mobile users are your best bet.
4. Intention-based apps.
Think of these applications as check-ins for the future. They allow users to broadcast to their online social networks their plans to attend future conferences.
Make sure you have your conference listed in Plancast and Lanyrd to take advantage of the free marketing those attending your event will give you.
Your conference participants value most the conversations that occur on the shuttle bus, over a cup of coffee or in the hallways. The more you can jumpstart those coversations, the more you’ll increase conference ROI, positive word of mouth, and ultimately, loyalty. When you make your attendee list available for potential and registered attendees to access, you give them the opportunity to do more than have chance encounters. The list enables them to actively seek out colleagues they want to connect with.
Adapted from Dave’s People & Processes column in PCMA’s May edition of Convene. Reprinted with permission of Convene, the magazine of the Professional Convention Management Association. © 2011.
What are some other reasons why the registrant list attracts potential attendees? What tips do you have for those wanting to publicize their attendee list?