Virtual Events have, understandably, been a hot topic in the industry and during our webinar series. During AD7, a number of examples highlight the virtual event boom. Alex shared that their upcoming Cvent CONNECT conference has 24,000 registrants compared to 4,500 in-person last year. ASAE Virtual Annual 2020 had around 13,000 attendees or more than double the attendance from last year. Julie also shared with us that Association Analytics Acumen data is showing associations are getting anywhere from 60-80% NEW registrants for virtual meetings. The challenge is that many virtual events are free or at a significant discount.
So how do we replace the revenue from a live event with virtual event?
Some associations rely on conferences and live events for 90% of their annual revenue. While that level of reliance on one business model is worthy of a review, that’s a different blog. Replacing live event revenue with virtual event revenue is not easy. We all miss the social aspect of conferences. It’s one of the key drivers to attend and virtual happy hours just don’t cut it.
The social and networking value that members get from live events is very real, but when that return is anybody’s guess. Membership renewals are also at risk, due to the absence of live events. If members join your organization primarily because of your events, there is a good chance that they sit this year out of membership, costing you revenue that you dearly need.
That means the focus needs to be on great content, learning opportunities and credentialing. That’s the only way members are going to pay for virtual events and help you make up for lost revenue.
Shark Week returns
Leigh Kessler’s “create your own Shark Week” idea from AD4 was too good not to talk about again.
“The brilliance of shark week and how genius it is. Getting momentum and as crazy as shark week is, we all know what it is. How can your non-profit create your own shark week that people can rally around”– Leigh Kessler
Member-based non-profits can take some tips from the donor-based non-profits when it comes to marketing and getting a membership to engage. Every c3 non-profit has a story to tell and they can diversify revenue streams by focusing on donations and charitable giving.
As I mentioned earlier, virtual events are seeing huge increases. Julie added that this is a whole new audience; one that associations have been striving to achieve for a long time. So what to do with new user data? Quite simply, it’s a HUGE opportunity for each association and for the industry as a whole. Now that you have all of this data, the question is what products and services are right for this new audience?
Listen to your audience
Audience understanding is something we at Adage talk about quite a bit. A great way to figure out how to best serve them the content and products they want. We talked about social listening. Whether it’s your community platform, or mainstream social platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Your community can help you understand what is going on in your industry and you can create content that people want to consume based on that data, taking the guesswork out of it.