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In late May, The Profitable Association was asked by the American Society of Association Executives what were we hearing about virtual event platforms. The answer: “A lot!” Emails, invitations to webinars, demos, Zoom calls.

Since we provide advertising and media sales for ASAE in the technology sector, and we also deliver solutions for other associations’ events and publications, we had been observing the increasing chatter about virtual platforms (while also using some platforms ourselves).

A formal market analysis we conducted internally showed that well over twenty-five companies who were at that point in at least a new emphasis, if not a full-blown pivot. And, they were coming at it from many directions and legacy positions: from AMS, LMS, EMS, Marketing Automation, Community, Event Planning, and other places. It was and is clear: solution providers are moving quickly to address the needs of associations whose live events are canceled and may never be the same.

 

The Eureka for PAI and ASAE:

The need to serve and educate the association market and ASAE members quickly, to provide an up-close look at solutions so associations can be equipped to address taking events from in-person to virtual (or hybrid) now.

 

The Concept and Event: ASAE’s Demo Days for Virtual Events.

 

The Challenge:

Like many associations, ASAE has long-established programs, events, departments, and a large staff. Demo Days had to be planned, sold, promoted, and delivered on a fast-track schedule (in fact, in about 3 weeks from the drawing board to going live). Being nimble, responsive, and creative while executing a new type of event AND delivering with high value was the challenge. It was anticipated to be a one-day event including 8 solution sponsors, each having their opportunity to present to hundreds of association professionals.

 

The Solution:

  • Our team took the lead in crafting packages, benefits, and deliverables (the value proposition), as well as conducting market outreach and sales engagement.
  • We seamlessly joined with the small ASAE client team who would develop and host the program, while promoting and handling registrations.
  • We developed and applied a process that included both external and internal communications for collecting and sharing all sponsor deliverables and assets.
  • While in fast-motion collaboration, we checkpointed often to assess any gaps that needed to be filled.
  • We served as the voice of ASAE, conveying all instructions to the sponsors’ teams, so they would be prepared and ready for presenting.

 

The Results:

  • Based on early sales results and popular demand, ASAE expanded the Demo Day program to 1.5 Days, with a line-up that included 12 presenting sponsors.
  • Turnout greatly exceeded expectations: well over 1,000 registrants, a majority averaging over 5.5 hours of attendance.
  • Feedback from attendees and sponsors – it was an overwhelming success!
  • With such a lean operation, it was a financial success for ASAE.
  • See the line-up, and view an archive/replay of ASAE’s Demo Days for Virtual Events.

 

Key Takeaways for Associations:

  1. Think differently right now. The world as we knew it has changed quickly.
  2. Think entrepreneurially. Set aside politics, sacred cows, and long-established status quos. You can be nimble, agile, responsive, and strategic.
  3. You can not only survive, you can thrive. Leverage your association’s strengths and unique position.
  4. It’s the perfect time to go on offense. Be the leader that you are – as an executive, as an innovator, and as an industry association.
  5. Seize opportunities for Success. If you find a formula that works well in this “brave new world” – why not make it the basis of a new business model?

 

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