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non-dues revenue

PAI Case Study: ASAE & The Virtual Event Market in 2020

By Association Non-Dues Revenue No Comments

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?

 

Setting Goals for Event Revenue

By Association Non-Dues Revenue, Expo Sales, Sponsorship Sales No Comments

Association professionals might have more challenges, in the beginning, to gain focus for long-range planning and shorter-term deliverables when it comes to executing a non-dues revenue-generating event. How can associations share in the excitement about continued growth?  PAI Sales provides guidance and expertise to association staff to deliver and sell events.

Keep it about the Goals

Whether the challenge is getting a new event off the ground, maintaining a growth trajectory, or getting key team members on the same page, we follow this blueprint to get everyone marching together. Here is an overview of the process with six simple steps:

  1. Create a shared Vision of what the event will look like in the future.
  2. From the vision, make a future Plan, and make the plan about Goals.
  3. Establish a Longer-range Focus on the event as an evolving business (key term is evolving business.)
  4. Establish, communicate and share the goals – for long-term and for each event – will the full team and key member committees.
  5. Plan together as a team, including Quantitative and Qualitative goals blended into one business plan that is flexible for adjustments.
  6. Look backward for Lessons Learned and to build on prior success, and look forward for Improvement and Growth.

Qualitative Goals

  • Develop and set goals for both attendee and sponsor/exhibitor satisfaction. Collect feedback and make adjustments accordingly.
  • Develop and set goals for Service Level, Responsiveness, and Business Practices.
  • Develop other goals for attendee Experience, program/content QualityEngagement, and other key items including the incorporation of any creative, memorable, or “wow” factors.

Quantitative Goals

For each event, set goals for:

  • Total Revenue
  • Attendee/registration Revenue
  • Sponsor/Exhibitor Revenue
  • Net Revenue
  • Number of total attendees
  • Number of paid attendees
  • Number of paid sponsors
  • Establish and share the goals by a specific date each year for the following year.

The quantitative goals will involve related “time and space” goals with hard calendar deadlines. Create a document so that everyone is sharing in the goal-driven deadlines with related steps and tasks.

Team Sharing, Communicating and Planning

  • Establish a monthly meeting to exchange updates and to track progress.
  • Set a twice-yearly meeting to revisit and make adjustments to the future plan.

 Just remember… Have fun as a team, root for and celebrate success!

association sales philosophy

The 40/40/20 Sales Philosophy

By Association Non-Dues Revenue, Expo Sales, Sponsorship Sales No Comments

Where do you start with any new sales project? Let’s say that the project is selling exhibit space and sponsorships that will drive revenue to support a conference. Do you have your own basic formula or sales philosophy?

If you are in a business-to-business sales role then start by asking yourself – what is your philosophy? I like to sum up mine as the “40/40/20 Approach

The “40/40/20 Approach” to Sales and Marketing Campaigns

I like to start with this basic philosophy, thinking in terms of three very “general variables” and keeping in mind which ones you can control and which ones you cannot.

  • The List
  • The Offer
  • The Look
association sales

The “List” = 40% emphasis

Start with a variable that you can control, and can grow and improve over time. If you are building a sales program for an event, make it a priority to establish, then to methodically grow and build a prospect database. Don’t rely on disparate, random, old, or disconnected lists. Perform extensive analysis of the greater market universe, and “gold-mine” contacts that you can code by source, industry niche or category, and eventually, by contact history, prospect “grade” and call notes. Acquire contacts by attending industry events and tradeshows, researching print and online directories, and culling from publications that contain advertising. Build on whatever legacy and internal lists are available. Refine and cleanse as you go.

A long-term concerted focus on developing and growing a database of prospects is an asset that will insulate you against the normal market and economic fluctuations that otherwise may impact an event. Rather than start over each year, build your list, know your prospects, and let the numbers work in your favor.

The “Offer” = 40% emphasis

You can control this variable best of all. It is an essential intangible package, and requires focus and strategic thinking. Simply put, this is your event’s selling value proposition and all of its specifics, varied or tailored for the purpose of getting your target prospects to take action as soon as possible. It needs to be thought out and formalized, and adaptable for print and electronic media, for in-person situations and phone calls.

Take the strategic and “long view” with an empathetic mindset. It may be incorporated into how you think of and structure your rates, packages, and timing, your floor plan design and may include a rewards program.  Tailor the offer and the key parts of the value proposition and call to action to match the target list. You will have great results if you match a customized niche offer with a corresponding niche target market segment that is coded and pulled from your list.

The “Look” = 20% emphasis

If it’s not part of the value proposition, (if you can see it or touch it), then it falls into the “Look” general category. The Look is the element with the most hard costs, so it is critical that it is weighted correctly.  Many associations place too much emphasis on the branding (the font and color palette, the esoteric theme, the weight or gloss of the brochure, and the overall design of the website, etc) and NOT enough on the value proposition to buyers (the offer). The prettiest or most creatively designed brochure will only move the needle by a few points if it is mailed to a good List. But if it reaches too few (or the wrong) targets, or if it does not contain a compelling offer plus a call and mechanism for action, it could be a wasted investment.

I’m not saying that “The Look” is not important at all. Budget allowing, a mailed hardcopy prospectus can still be the single most effective element of an integrated, multi-pronged marketing campaign. Keep it lightweight, fewer in pages, and mail to more of the best targets.  Budgeting to hit a larger quantity of quality targets with the right offer will yield a far greater return in leads (and sales) than creating an expensive work of art.

The benefit of having a philosophy is that it provides your team and clients with consistency in your approach and expectations, which engenders trust, leading to higher levels of commitment and performance.

I’d love to hear what you think about the “40/40/20” Philosophy, and to learn about your own Sales Philosophy.