Best practices for hosting an event worth attending

Whether it’s your annual meeting, a mortgage info session, or a member appreciation bash, event marketing offers a powerful opportunity to build relationships with new and existing members.

As it becomes even harder to get facetime with audiences, a well-executed event provides a unique place for attendees to get to know your credit union’s personality and focus. Plus, an experience is more lasting than a mailer and more engaging than a social media post.

Whenever you dedicate the time and resources to hosting your next event, make the most of the opportunity by following some easy best practices.

What Do You Want to Achieve?

Events can easily become time and money drains, so start at square one by considering what you want to accomplish. Do you want to generate awareness for your credit union with something that will build your brand? Are you trying to generate leads for a specific product or service? Or, are you interested in rewarding loyal members who are using the credit union as their primary financial institution?

Once you’ve narrowed down what you want to achieve, identify the point of the sales funnel you’re addressing. Keep it in mind when you’re considering activities so they will be relevant. Nobody wants to get a product pitch on a new rewards credit card if they are still determining how they want manage their credit score and if they want to have a line of credit at all.

The way you market the event and the activities you choose to include should then align with your goals and what the audience expects to get when they come. For example, encouraging the non-member community to attend may be a high priority during a grand-opening party. You can use outdoor visual displays, incorporate giveaways, offer free counseling sessions, and serve favorite local food options to entice them.

As a different example, getting contact information for lead follow-ups may be more important during a retirement workshop. Then, you may incentivize RSVPs and spend more one-on-one time with participants during and after the session.

Take a few minutes at the beginning of your planning to set some goals. It will ultimately give you a better starting point and will help you determine how to structure your event.

Know Your Audience

A business event at noon on a Thursday may have a great turnout, while a seminar on funding your child’s education during that time will probably flop. Similar examples can be made about different group’s willingness to travel, to give you more or less of their time, and to accept what you are offering in return. The bottom line is, make it easy for your audience to say yes by working with their preferences and giving them something they care about.  

After you set the logistical details, have some fun.

Trying to attract first-time homebuyers? Set up an interesting food or drink tasting at your branch or a community spot where a relatable mortgage expert can shine a light on the entire process of saving for, purchasing, and maintaining a home.

Want to build family-focused relationships within your membership? Host a summer kid’s day with ice cream, piggy bank painting and money-themed games while parents learn about youth savings clubs, trusts, education IRAs, and your scholarship program.

Get creative and try different pairings of locations, complimentary activities, games or refreshments for a fun twist on your typical event.

Leverage Sponsorships

When you’re celebrating something big or want a large turnout, adding partners is one way to keep the budget reasonable.

Start with your existing list of business partners and see if they have something they want to contribute, like food or the cost of equipment rental. You can easily announce sponsorships if you already have some speaking moments, or you can add them to on-site signs and landing pages.

After you’ve exhausted your established connections, take the opportunity to reach out to potential partners. Events are not only a great time to strengthen connections with attendees. They can also be a way to invite potential partners to get to know your credit union and be a part of the event in a way that benefits everyone, including your joint community.

Advertise in Advance, Follow Up Afterwards

Just like you should consider your audience when you’re setting the event details, think about where you can reach them when you’re getting ready to spread the word.

Certain people or groups are very active on social media, like parent networks and grandparents who like to stay in touch with family. You may find that using a Facebook event page with sponsored ads on Facebook and Instagram are the best ways to get them to attend an event aligning with their group’s interests.  

Alternatively, you may have better luck with more formal paper and digital invitations for an investment event where you want members with a higher net-worth to attend. Once you know how you can connect, segment out contact lists within your membership or community.

After the event is over, it’s time to do follow ups. Whether you choose to get RSVPs in advance or collect information at the event, have ways to further the conversation afterwards. Go back to that sales funnel to see what are the logical next steps. If your audience is still considering their needs, follow up with ways to assess their situation. If they are ready to purchase, then you can be more focused on closing the deal.

Have Fun and Show Your Personality

Remember, events are meant to be a fun time to connect. Use whatever makes you unique to make the time memorable and to build relationships. If you set clear goals, cater to your audience, and let your personality shine, your next event is sure to be a success.

Jennifer Laud

Jennifer Laud

Jennifer is a credit union marketing consultant and the owner of Jennifer Laud Consulting. She has a background in strategy and a passion for positioning credit unions to find their ... Web: Details