Association Experts Share their Best Practices for Early Bird Conference Promotion

At Gather Voices we’re passionate about helping association leaders succeed with member engagement, participation, and continuing education. And for every association marketer, conference and event marketing are essential strategies to drive engagement.

If you’re promoting an event — from a simple lunch and learn to a full-on annual conference — you know that building up excitement and anticipation is critical for success. For annual membership conferences in particular, early bird promotion is an incredibly useful tactic.

We wanted to learn more about how associations are planning their early bird promotions. So, we surveyed association marketers to learn their best practices around early bird conference marketing. Using our Gather Voices platform, we collected their insights on key topics:

  • What’s the ideal timing for early bird promotions?
  • What’s the right early bird discount rate?
  • What’s your one piece of advice on early bird conference promotions

Here’s what the association experts had to say…

What’s the ideal timing for early bird promotions?

“I think the best way is create a multi-tiered pricing model with a super early bird, an early bird, a pre-show, and an on-site price. We’ve found that using our early bird about three and a half months from the show date usually gives us the best results.”

Tina Marmor, Marketing Events Manager at Fonteva

“The main idea is creating a real sense of urgency for those who know they’re going to attend, and also prompting those who don’t know if they’re going to attend.”

Jake Fabbri, Chief Marketing Officer at Fonteva

“The best practice for early bird registration is the Wednesday after a conference… people are riding the emotional high of an amazing experience and that’s your greatest opportunity to get them to make an emotional investment and convert them to participate in the following year.”

Joel Resnik, Chief Revenue Officer at Gather Voices

What’s the right early bird discount rate?

“You need to look at what it would be to be valuable for your participant, but I would say somewhere between 15-20% usually would be a good deal.”

Megan Denhardt, Event Manager for Associations at the Denhardt Group

“We’ve found that a majority of our registrants come in during our pre-show phase, but offering discounts between 15-20% off really creates excitement and urgency with our attendees.”

Tina Marmor, Marketing Events Manager at Fonteva

“I think that it’s more about driving social proof and getting people interested about joining their peers than it is about discounting. So my recommendation is to give less discounts and do things that are high value, low cost to your organization such as drink tickets or an event dinner.”

Joel Resnik, Chief Revenue Officer at Gather Voices

What’s your one piece of advice for effective early bird promotions?

“In addition to providing early bird rates, what about providing them with some of sort of exceptional component, a surprise element. Saying, ‘If you register by this date, you get these three things.’ It shouldn’t just be a transaction — it should provide value.”

Megan Denhardt, Event Manager for Associations at the Denhardt Group

“Having people share in their own words why it’s important to attend a conference and why they’re spending the money, time, and effort — that’s a great way to get people to realize, ‘Yeah, that’s something I should do as well.'”

Joel Resnik, Chief Revenue Officer at Gather Voices

Are you an association leader? We’d love to hear from you.

If you’ve got tips and tricks for Early Bird marketing, we’d like to feature your insights. Share your ideas with our community and make your video here.

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