by Michael Hoffman, CEO at Gather Voices
Non-dues revenue is the lifeblood of many associations. And the biggest source of non-dues revenue is often an annual conference, where registration fees and sponsorship bring in big dollars.
When those events are canceled, or moved online, the revenue hit can be devastating.
Whether you’ve had this happen to you (yet) or not, you should be aggressively seeking to diversify your non-dues revenue.
Resilient organizations have diversified revenue streams.
Let’s say that again for emphasis.
To increase revenue from members, associations look at their continuing education offerings and their, now virtual, conferences. But virtual event ticket sales and paid webinars usually cannot, by itself, make up for the loss of conference revenue, much of which comes from sponsors and vendors.
Why do vendors lug their gear to Orlando, Vegas or Columbus to stand at a booth all day until their feet hurt, even though they paid the extra $400 for the padding under the carpet and $200 to rent a chair for a day. (Been there!)
Sponsors and vendors are, obviously, looking to increase sales.
Sponsors and vendors are willing to pay generously for access to your attendees. They are terribly upset when conferences get canceled. They have built their business models on brand building and lead gathering from conferences. How can they acquire customers without the conference? The good news is that they have no choice but to find alternative ways to reach your audience and they are ready to re-deploy some or all of their investment if you can give them what they need.
With the right tools you can create the win-win-win. You can give the sponsors access to your members, give your members a more engaging experience and give your organization the non-dues revenue you are counting on.
This all starts with video.
Video content is the most compelling content there is.
Research has shown that:
Basically, video works. And by works I mean, can advance your goals and crush your KPIs.
To create a win-win-win you need to start with your members or attendees. These are your primary constituents and if they aren’t happy, nothing else works.
In your virtual conference or event, short form pre-recorded video content will dramatically increase engagement by breaking up the long sessions and increasing the diversity of who is on the screen.
Have a look at these videos from ASi, the makers of the iMIS association management software, that they used in their 2020 virtual user conference:
Engagement and satisfaction was as high as it ever was in their more than 20 years of putting on this event.
In the context of your day-to-day work, having video in your Higher Logic forums, your member directory and your online marketplace will increase engagement and loyalty.
On your social media platforms, adding much more video, especially from members themselves, will deliver more engagement and shares. Guaranteed. Like this from the League of American Orchestras:
Video for continuing education can fill the seats (virtual or otherwise) by having your instructors making videos that are also included in the emails about those courses. Like this from NTEN.
Having members make videos for advocacy can drive engagement and push your goals forward. Like this from Sierra Club.
When the video content is from the members themselves, they feel like co-creators and not spectators. They feel like owners and not renters. This is the highest level of engagement you can get.
Now imagine you’ve added all this new short-form video content to your virtual conference and to your day-to-day communications on your website, in your email and on social media.
This is your new virtual real estate for sponsors. But unlike the exhibit hall, which is up and down in 3 days, your video continues, making that real estate more valuable.
All of the content you create can have sponsor branding included. And yes it can be classy!
You can add video to sponsorship levels or easily create new sponsorships around your videos. For example, short-form member videos that talk about the future of your industry can be sponsored by one of your corporate partners. Member introductions can be sponsored by another brand, and your social media video sponsored by yet another.
ASi was able to increase attendance to their annual conference by over 60% by making it virtual. By including short video elements, their sponsors could reach many more people. And ASi could preserve sponsor revenue.
In addition to all this new sponsorship opportunity, you can also have short form content created by sponsors and vendors themselves. The 1-minute vendor intro video can be included in the conference program, played during the lunch break and then shared on social media.
Have a look at these videos made by sponsors for Personify’s Personifest, which had 300% more attendees than their in-person event:
Vendors were invited to do short pitches, which were played in short pitch sessions where you give members the opportunity to opt-in with the vendor, just as they would in-person.
Just like they did at Personifest, your sponsors can deliver a pre-recorded short pitch, with a live Q&A after:
The best thing about all that sponsor branding and vendor participation is that they are paying for it.
Get in this habit and you will have a lucrative new channel for non-dues revenue that has the side effect of making your members more satisfied and loyal. Now that’s a win-win-win!
Associations are using Gather Voices to create new sponsorship opportunities and, in turn, new channels for non-dues revenue. With our association video software, you can make the most of video in the new world of virtual events and virtual member engagement. Want to see how it’s done? Request a demo today.
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