The Engaging Power of Experience Marketing

Experience Marketing header

Every association team developing with in-person events knows memorable experiences can draw audiences in and leave a lasting impact. The key to success lies in crafting “experiences,” ones that engage, motivate, and build a sense of community among your members.

By taking the time and effort to craft more engaging experiences, organizations can demonstrate value of membership, improve word-of-mouth, and deepen a sense of community among members. In this post, we’ll discuss the concept of experience marketing and ideas to implement.

What is Experience Marketing

Experience marketing is all about creating moments that resonate authentically with your audience. We want to focus on crafting interactions and events that leave a lasting impression. With the popularity of social media and the aftermath of COVID, the impact of these experiences has become even more significant and needed. Creating shareable experiences for attendees can lead to organic word-of-mouth marketing, amplifying your organization’s reach and impact.

Start Local

Local chaptersServing as the face of the organization in different regions, local chapters play a vital role in member-reliant organizations. Unfortunately, like cell service, chapter activities vary widely depending on where you are – some are robust and some are, well, dead zones. It’s one area I often talk to my association clients about first in terms improving involvement – help your local chapters with resources and tips.

  • Educational Workshops: Offer workshops or seminars featuring local experts or thought leaders. These events provide valuable insights to members while fostering a sense of belonging within the local chapter. At headquarters, tag all existing materials with regions or cities, so it’s also easier for local chapters to develop their own resource pages and make it easier for members to find relevant content.
  • NetworkingNetworking Mixers: Develop a resource page guiding local leaders on how to host casual networking mixers for members to meet and connect. Encourage members to share their experiences on social media, showcasing their vibrant local chapter community.
  • Your Association Cares Day: Consider organizing a “Community Impact Day” where local chapters participate in volunteer activities all on the same day. These experiences not only build camaraderie but also showcase your organization’s commitment to social responsibility. Encourage members to share their experiences on social media using a dedicated hashtag, showcasing their collective impact. Develop an iron-logo or custom tees for the day that can all volunteers can wear.
  • Local Leaders Forum: Set up time during your annual conference for local leaders to get together in one room. Plan a panel of your most active chapters to share their best practices. Allow ample time for brainstorms and discussion.

Turn Your Annual Conference into a Grand Experience

fireworksThe annual conference is often THE flagship event for member associations. A chance to bring members together from many regions, here are some ideas to make your annual conference unforgettable:

  • Interactive Workshops: Include hands-on workshops and interactive sessions where attendees can actively participate and learn. These experiences create memorable moments that attendees will want to discuss with fellow members.
  • On-site Challenges: Consider adding a team-based leadership challenge that require participants to work together to solve real-world problems at the event. The collaborative experience develops bonds and encourages attendees to share their accomplishments. Prepare attendees via email and then officially kick off at your opening reception. Share results at closing event. Provide prizes and awards for participation.
  • networkingRamp Up Networking Opportunities: Facilitate diverse networking opportunities, such as themed roundtable discussions or a speed networking event. Consider having people draw numbers for luncheon table assignments to mingle and meet other members. Encourage members to connect and share their conference experiences online using a dedicated hashtag.
  • The “5 Timers Club”: If you have ever seen an episode of “Saturday Night Live” where the guest is hosting for the fifth time, you will know what I’m talking about. Consider rewarding loyal conference attendees with a fun activity like an exclusive “5 Timers Club.” Surprise them with special recognition and perks like a 5-timers Lounge or special knowledge session. Being part of an elite club is a powerful motivator and reinforces their commitment to your brand.
  • Enhance the Senses: Consider investing into making your annual conference even more singular and signature by adding subtle but impactful touches that play on people’s five senses. Develop a brand soundtrack where certain songs help define your brand persona and improve people’s moods. Consider a special room spray like many hotels and casinos develop to produce feelings of relaxation, energy or warmth in your attendees. Create a special registration carpet with your association logo and colors to roll out welcoming attendees.

Deliver More than Another Webinar

In the age of virtual connectivity, member associations can expand their reach, increase their value and engage members through innovative online events.

  • Mastermind GroupMember-Only Mastermind Groups: Create virtual mastermind groups where members with similar goals or challenges can meet regularly to discuss and brainstorm solutions. Consider working with local chapter to develop these regionally. These intimate gatherings promote networking, collaboration and knowledge sharing.
  • Leadership Fireside Chats: Offer live stream discussion with prominent association leaders on a quarterly basis. Allow members to submit questions in advance and select a few to be answered during the live session. Share the recorded conversation afterward, exclusively as a member-only benefit. This not only creates a buzz but also strengthens the sense of belonging among members.
  • Masterclass SeriesMasterclass Series: Offer member-exclusive virtual masterclasses led by renowned industry experts. Members can gain valuable knowledge and interact with instructors. Allow members to submit questions in advance or ask live. This is also a wonderful way to capture leading expert insights and voices before they’re gone. Provide downloadable resources and encourage members to share their learnings on social media, driving word-of-mouth referrals. Share the recorded sessions for those members who couldn’t attend, making them valuable as a member benefit.

Conclusion

More than a buzzword; experience marketing is a powerful strategy that member-reliant organizations can leverage to enhance member engagement and fuel word-of-mouth marketing. In a world where social media dominates much of communication, shareable experiences that get people talking have never been more critical.

Need help with your upcoming event or brainstorm ideas? I’m always reachable via email shine@jenydcreative.com to schedule time to chat.

About Me

Hello, I'm Jeny. With more than 20 years of experience in marketing strategy, brand positioning, and content development, I collaborate with clients to develop strategies and action plans to streamline their marketing and achieve their goals.

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