By Wendy Holiday
How often are your conference communication pieces in lockstep with your attendees’ needs?
Do your conference emails tend to go out as a one-size-fits-all blast to your entire database? Or is your copy customized with critical issues for each primary target audience segment?
If you want to increase your conference attendee acquisition, you need targeted emails and marketing. Message maps are one way to create customized conference marketing content.
Customizing Conference Marketing ContentAs a former VP of Membership & Marketing for a large association, I spent a lot of time considering the needs and interests of our conference attendees and prospects. Here are some the questions I wrestled with:
- Who do our exhibitors and sponsors want to see most?
- Which attendee groups should we target?
- What keeps them up at night?
- How, specifically, will our conference and expo help them improve…and sleep more soundly?
- Should there be unique registration offers for each target segment?
- What would convince the bosses to approve attendance and budget?
So, does your front line staff know how to answer these questions? Do they implement your vision and messaging strategy effectively?
I’ve seen many talented writers fall victim to blast promotional writing. No targeted messages. No considerations of specific attendee needs. Just fast, one-size-fits-all marketing.
Regardless of a rigorous thought process, careful analysis of targeted attendee segments and corresponding needs, it still happenes. Even for me.
Why? Writers and marketers are busy. It’s easier to create one email blast than individual messages designed to resonate with a critical segments.
Similarly, senior staff and CMO’s can’t be everywhere. And they’re under the gun, so things slip through the cracks. They don’t always send marketing pieces back to writers to implement customized messaging.
So what can we do? How can we change the current-rapid-fire one-size-fits-all conference messaging?
One answer: Message maps.
Creating A Message MapA Message Map is a shared internal document that serves as the foundation for your attendance acquisition communications. It creates a shared vision for your attendance acquisition strategy. And puts everyone on the same page.
A message map is a tool to develop core concepts about specific topics for specific markets and audiences. Message maps serve conferences best when used before trying to create messages for a variety of tactics such as marketing, communication and website landing pages.
A message map is like a compass that guides your conference communications. It addresses different
- target segments
- their needs
- their pain points
- how the conference can help them solve their problems
- the prospect’s supervisors concerns
- and more.
Why You Should Create And Use A Message MapBy investing time to better understand the most urgent problems for your top segments, you’ll be in a stronger position to deliver communications that map back to these red hot needs.
You’ll also be far more effective in sharing this insight with your staff and writers without micro-managing the entire process.
You’ll empower staff. Give them room to be creative. And encourage them to be highly relevant instead of fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants hopefully relevant.
Build It TogetherCreating a message map should be a group endeavor. Take the time to include key department leads from your Education, Expo, Marketing and Public Relations areas.
Enlist the help of team or volunteer committee members as well. Include them in qualitative discussions with representatives of each target segment.
Your goal is to have a deep, current understanding of your target market’s most pressing opportunities and challenges. And you want your entire staff assisting with this.
Message Map TemplateTo help get you started, we’ve created a message map template that you can make your own. Click here to download in excel or here for the PDF version. No login required.
What messaging resonates best for your key target audience targets? What would you include in your message map strategy?