Are You Prepared for the Perfect Annual Meeting?

Planning the next annual meeting or conference for your association? Here's why you should start the planning process as soon as possible
Planning the next annual meeting or conference for your association? Here’s why you should start the planning process as soon as possible

Your annual meeting is approaching. You know the feeling. That sense of unavoidable dread and excitement settles in as if a tornado’s advancing on your association HQ.

Everyone’s hunkered down, preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.

And more often than not, just like that, it’s over. Sure, there were a few scares along the way, but your staff survived.

The thing is, it can always be better.

There could be more attendees. Streamlined registration. More vendors. Better education sessions. Improved post-show engagement. More opportunities to learn from your members.

But how do you achieve it all? By putting the same level of focus into your post-meeting review as you did into your pre-show event management planning.

Looking for Annual Meeting Success? Give it Your Undivided Attention

Think about your association’s revenue for a moment. Or, if you’re reading this blog post to stop thinking about it, we recommend skipping ahead to the next section.

Back to association revenue. Your association might lean on the following:

  • Membership dues
  • Trade show booth fees
  • Meeting registration
  • Certification & professional development

We’re probably missing something. But the point? Each of those four revenue drivers can be influenced tremendously through your annual meeting. Chances are, your annual trade show or conference accounts for a big chuck of your non-dues revenue by itself.

Here’s an interesting set of stats from the ASAE Foundation’s Association Operating Ratio Report:

  • Average revenue from association membership in 1953: 95.7 percent.
  • In 2016: Trade associations: 45.4 percent. Professional associations: 30 percent.

Surely, you realize the importance of your annual event. And maybe now you’ll be more willing to embrace the chaos — and even turn those pre-show jitters into post-show wins.

5 Ways the End of Your Annual Event is Just the Beginning

With all that work your team put into your trade show or conference, you might want to leave the meeting space and never look back. And it’s so easy to give in to that temptation. Don’t!

While there was plenty of greatness achieved at your event, there are equally great things to achieve going forward.

1 – Review Your Interactions with Members — Prioritize Those Who Might Not Renew

Before you left the office one last time for your annual meeting, did you check member engagement scores or possible new member leads via your membership database? Great! Now do the same after your meeting.

Review your conversations with members. Check to see if any of those people have had waning engagement over the years. You could be at risk of them when membership renewal season rolls around.

Now’s your chance to strike. Just like it’s more cost-effective for businesses to retain existing customers than it is to find new ones, you’ll want to hang onto those current members for dear life. You never know if they’ll come back.

You’ve got a couple options here. If you had a good conversation with a member who’s halfway out the door, you have a shot to reel them back in. Or, let them go through the motions and leave their renewal to a coin flip.

2 – Review and Capitalize on Industry Buzz

What’s the word? The buzz? The chatter? There’s usually one hot topic which trumps all else.

Whatever it was, meet with your staff to determine the best way to tackle it head on.

Here are some opportunities to consider once you’ve honed in on that single industry topic which attendees couldn’t stop talking about.

  • Develop eBooks, white papers and webinars relating to that buzz-worthy topic
  • Use it as your ice-breaker in follow-up emails to members or prospects
  • Post relevant tips and tricks on social media to attract prospective members interested in the topic

3 – Block Off Time with Your Team for a Conference Review

Review. Isolate. Prioritize. Those three tasks should be top of mind when your team returns from your annual meeting.
Review. Isolate. Prioritize. Those three tasks should be top of mind when your team returns from your annual meeting.

Review. Isolate. Prioritize.

Who among your association staff attended your annual event? Who didn’t? Schedule time with key members from both groups, as well as some time with a combination of both. (And hey, did you know Outlook seamlessly integrates with Microsoft Dynamics 365?)

What are you doing in these meetings, you ask? Reviewing your successes. Isolating your challenges. Prioritizing your objectives.

Never will you have more time before your next annual trade show or conference than you do right now. Use this time wisely to make sure you’re making the most of this year’s event, while improving the next week.

4 – Turn Business Cards into LinkedIn Connections

Here’s a fantastic way to make sure you don’t lose track of those prospective members you worked so hard to find.

LinkedIn now has more than 550 million members. Chances are pretty strong that the person whose business card you currently hold is on there, too.

Since LinkedIn Sales Navigator integrates naturally with Microsoft Dynamics 365, you won’t need to flip-flop between your member database and the social media hub. Or, if that prospect changes jobs, you’ll still know how to track them down.

Need to connect with members? Give LinkedIn a try
Need to connect with members? Give LinkedIn a try

5 – Set Next Year’s SMART Goals

Your next annual meeting is a long way away. These types of things are annual for a reason, after all.

But it’s never too early to set your objectives for your next meeting.

A lot of folks like setting SMART goals for these situations — so let’s try that. They should be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Bound

Maybe it’s setting deadlines to have your venue situation all squared away. Or maybe you’re looking to boost event registration by a certain percentage.

Whatever your goals, make sure they reflect your SMART guidelines.

Conclusion

Yeah, you’re feeling pretty great having avoided being swept up in the whirlwind of your annual meeting. But you can’t let up now.

Before you get settled back into your regular routine, set some time aside to maximize your meeting experience. It’ll pay dividends next time around.

Want to learn how Alliance by Protech can make your event planning easier? Chat with a member of the Protech team today.

Looking for more Association Answers? Sign up for Protech's monthly newsletter today!
Looking for more Association Answers? Sign up for Protech’s monthly newsletter today!