6 Event Marketing Best Practices to Grow Your Show

By John Bacon • January 4, 2023

Since events are a significant contributor to associations for generating and maintaining memberships and non-dues revenue, it’s important to consistently offer enticing and exciting events for your members and industry.  Whether your association’s event goals are building community, promoting the association, educating members and the general public or connecting with industry organizations, it’s mission-critical to work toward boosting attendance. However, in today’s dynamic and quickly evolving world, proving your association’s relevance to current and new markets is more difficult than ever before — and it’s becoming increasingly challenging to gain more attendees and have a successful event. 

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to growing your association’s show, but you can take a few steps to enhance your attendees’ experience, which will, produce better attendance.

What Should You Do to Boost Your Association Event’s Attendance and Success?

Every event is unique, so hosting a successful event requires careful planning and execution, along with out-of-the-box thinking. From before the event even begins until the weeks after it takes place, there are a lot of small details that can make or break it. Regardless of the type of event that you are planning – traditional face-to-face, appointment-setting, a virtual conference, or a hybrid mix – hosting a successful event should greatly benefit your association and help reach your goals.

Here are six vital steps your event planners can follow to help make your association’s next event a success:

  1. Utilize a wide variety of marketing strategies and tactics.

When planning your association’s event, you need to utilize a wide variety of marketing tactics, such as email marketing, social media marketing, PR, SEO and many other strategies. This will help your association assist you in engaging with your current members and also reaching potential new members. As a great side effect, this also opens the opportunity for your brand to resonate with your audience in a new way that you hadn’t previously considered.

  1. Communicate clearly and often.

It can’t be understated that communication is key for events. Every piece of information that is needed by the attendees should be shared at every touchpoint. From parking and dining options to speakers and the event layout, there’s a ton of information attendees need to successfully experience your event. Put yourself in your attendees’ shoes and consider what would make you enjoy your event attendance more. The easier you make it for them by clearly sharing this information, the more likely they are to be satisfied. 

  1. Communication does not stop once the event begins.

Once an event starts, there’s still a lot to be communicated back and forth between attendees and the hosting association. Don’t drop the ball now! What room is each speaker in? What time do certain sessions start? When is lunch? While it is very important to have a litany of signage around the event of times, maps and anything else for attendees to follow, many organizations are turning to apps to keep their attendees up to speed. Twitter is a great tool to use during an event for updating and changing information, especially if your association’s event is large. 

  1. Create engaging content around your event.

In addition to promoting your event, creating thought leadership-based content that will engage and excite potential attendees can take your event to the next level. This includes anything from email campaigns that have downloadable assets relevant to the event, blog posts, videos and social media posts that showcase speakers, activities or other highlights of your event, giving your event a more professional and authoritative presence. 

  1. Engage with your audience.

As you promote your event, engaging with your audience and encouraging them to share your event and their thoughts is a great way to build excitement for your event amongst registered attendees, who can help spread the word to more potential attendees. Engagement is the cornerstone of a successful event and when you build a sense of anticipation and excitement, it elevates attendee satisfaction in the event. Finding out what components your attendees are getting excited about is an incredibly valuable insight that will help you shape your future events as well.

  1. Follow up with attendees once the event is over.

After the event, you should reach out to your attendees to thank them for coming and ask for their feedback on what could be improved for future events — this is an important step you can’t overlook. Collecting this information is more likely to improve the attendees’ impressions of the event and allow your association to tweak and adjust events to put on the best event possible. It will also help you collect insight for outreach during your next event.

Growing your show is far easier said than done. However, by following these event marketing best practices, you can leverage your next event to be a powerful tool for you to advance your mission, make a positive impact and attract more attendees. Not only will this benefit your association, but it will also provide valuable opportunities for networking, learning and professional development for your members. 

Events can be tricky to get right, and no two events are the same. If you need help boosting attendance, exhibitors, sponsorships and revenue at your next event, contact Naylor Association Solutions. 


John Bacon, VP, Account Management at Naylor is a dynamic and business-focused management professional with more than 13 years of extensive experience leading profit-generating operations for trade and professional Associations. He currently sits on the board of Directors for the Texas Society of Association Executives. His strengths include working with diverse teams and strategizing with client associations about member engagement. He also provides leadership, coaching and mentorship to a team of account managers; with the focus on helping Associations engage with their members in meaningful ways through their communication vehicles, while maximizing non-dues revenue.