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Creating word-of-mouth excitement about your event is critical to its success. One of the easiest, most efficient, ways to accomplish this is by building an army of conference ambassadors. Here are a few tips on getting your recruits in order.
Stop doing it all yourself. Build an army of conference ambassadors.
There are a lot of balls to juggle in creating a successful conference. You need to worry about hospitality, coordinating discounts, managing speakers, employing new marketing, using social media, selecting learning tracks, picking a host city and venue, and so much more. Don’t go it alone and don’t rely merely on your event team. You can create an army of conference ambassadors, which can help improve your recruitment and magnify your social media presence.
Conference ambassadors are like brand ambassadors; they represent your conference in a positive light. Their exuberance helps with recruiting and word-of-mouth marketing. Conference ambassadors become the personification of your event’s brand. People who are considering attending may look to your ambassadors before making a decision on attendance.
“Can I see myself hanging out with people like this?”
This question is a common measurement used when assessing events with successful conference ambassador programs.
Look for internal support among your association before launching a conference ambassadors group. Your ambassadors will need a number of tools to do their jobs well and you’ll need internal support in order to ensure the ambassadors receive what they need.
Finding the Right Conference Ambassadors
Conference ambassadors aren’t clones of your ideal conference attendee but they should appeal to a large variety of conference goers. Think of them as your conference’s (buyer) persona in human form and employ as many different representations of that as you need in your conference. For instance, if you want to attract veteran industry employees, students, and those growing in their career, you will want ambassadors that represent each of these groups.
Online and Off
Frequently people think of brand ambassadors as being online all the time. While you do want ambassadors who are heavily into social media, don’t forget that some of your most passionate advocates may be doing so offline. A willingness to talk your conference up and represent you in a meaningful and passionate way, are the most critical talents of conference ambassadors. These traits can be found online and off.
Your Goal Shouldn’t Be a Number
When beginning a conference ambassador program look for passionate believers in your association and its conference. Choose the best cheerleaders that represent the demographics you are trying to recruit and retain. Don’t set a number for how many conference ambassadors you want in the inaugural ranks. Select based on passion, not head count.
Your conference ambassadors are doing an amazing amount of referral work for you. Make sure you spotlight this group by calling them out and highlighting their work. Ensure other members understand how exclusive it is to get into the ambassadors’ group. Create a velvet ropes idea, like they do at clubs, where people can see the fun your ambassadors are having and yet it’s not a group that just anyone can join. This makes your ambassadors feel special and it piques the interest of your other members.
Conference Ambassadors Are Like Staff but Unencumbered
One of the reasons that conference ambassadors are so successful in convincing people to attend conferences is because they are not on the payroll. They speak about your conference and get people excited about it because they are excited about it. For this reason, never pay your conference ambassadors. Their word will be distrusted if they are paid for their efforts.
However, that does not mean you shouldn’t provide them with the opportunity to be a greater part of your conference brand. Give them swag that they can proudly wear; cups or totes they can carry; name badges designating their importance to your association; and/or humorous ways to stand out from the crowd. Ezinearticles, a site that encourages people in different fields to post their articles, provides writers with an “Expert Author” coffee mug after a number of published articles. This makes the author feel a part of something great, touts them for being an “expert”, and provides advertising for the Ezinearticles site as people see that mug and ask about it.
Conference ambassadors are passionate about your organization. You need to be passionate about them and build that connection. Make them feel special and appreciated every chance you get.
Let There Be Perks
In addition to swag, give your conference ambassadors perks that other members don’t receive. This could be input into speaker selection, discounts at your bookstore, early admission to a special event, access to the keynote speaker, or any other perk that places them above ordinary members. Perks make ambassadors feel special and give them more to talk you up about, but they also entice other members to want to be a part of your conference ambassadors group.
Listen to Them
Conference ambassadors encapsulate the best of both worlds. They see how recruiting and retention works for your association and they are attendees of the conference as well. Listen to their suggestions on how to improve and streamline your efforts. When they provide information and suggestions, let them know how you are acting on them. This may be the greatest way for you to show them appreciation.
Finally, make sure your conference ambassadors have the information they need to represent you in a good light. Ensure they know the details of your conference operations the way your staff would. They are speaking on your behalf and if they don’t have all the information they need to represent you well, they are not as effective as they could be. Conference ambassadors help you do more, be in more places, and reach a larger audience. Choose them carefully, give them what they need to do their jobs effectively, and you’ll have a fantastic event with strong grassroots support.