2018 State of the Conference Industry Infographic

This year’s State of the Conference Industry Report makes clear that association professionals are facing new challenges as they strive to meet their attendees’ changing expectations.

Between the growing number of formats associations use to deliver content, the variety of initiatives designed to increase attendee engagement, and the wide-ranging expectations of today’s attendees, managing conference content is becoming an increasingly difficult task.

Take a look at the infographic below to see some of the highlights from the report. For a more complete view of how association professionals are adapting to the realities of omnipresent content, be sure to download the full report.

 

2018 State of the Conference Industry Infographic

 

Read the full report to learn how other associations use content to engage attendees before, during and after their events.

7 Reasons to Choose a Printer That Works With Associations

 

Conference printing is one of the last tasks you have to tackle before your annual meeting begins. And who can blame you? It’s not like speakers wait until the last minute to submit their final presentations, right?

Backed up against a deadline, many associations think their only option is to choose a local printer to do the job. After all, aren’t all printers are the same? Not so fast!

Associations preparing for an event have different needs than other types of organizations. A printer that works with associations recognizes this and offers services that offer faster turnaround times, higher-quality results and more consistent branding designed specifically for an event.

In other words, a printer that works with associations:

Understands that your deadlines are tight.

It only takes one late delivery for associations to understand the value that a specialist printer can provide. Event professionals always run up against the deadline, but printers that work specifically with your kind of organization have production processes in place to handle the quick turnaround. When you work with us, you know that your materials will be delivered on time.

Recognizes that last-minute changes are common, necessary and largely out of your control.

Whether you set the date for final collection a month or a week before your conference, you’ll still get entirely too many late papers. Omnipress gets it. To get your materials to your event on time means there does need to be a final cut-off when materials must be received, but we can push this date later than most providers can. We are experts in dealing with an influx of last-minute changes.

Knows the basics of how conference materials are laid out.

If your program pages come to us print-ready, that’s great! Many associations need help getting there, though, and our team of designers are happy to provide formatting services to make it happen. Just send us a sample of last year’s program and we’ll do our best to match it. We work with hundreds of associations each year, so we’ll have a good idea of how you want your materials to look.

Has seen many variations on the standard conference program.

If you’re looking to create something a little different, odds are, Omnipress has seen it before. But, if you do bring something brand-new to the table, we’ll be well-equipped to handle it. Over the years, our project managers and production team have built up an impressive portfolio, meaning you can have your materials customized and printed in a wide variety of formats.

Knows you have many plates spinning, and that conference content isn’t always your top priority.

Conference planners have many different priorities, but that’s okay, because our top priority is delivering your content. We can help you manage the process with little input from you. We won’t make any major decisions without your approval, of course, but our project managers can take a lot off your to-do list while you’re taking care of other tasks.

Realizes that some people who work with you are volunteers or work part-time.

Coordinating schedules can be tough, even when everyone is in the office at the same time. When volunteers and part-time workers are thrown into the mix, it can be even harder to stay on the same page (sometimes literally!). We understand if the ad pages are being produced on a different timeline than the abstracts, which are trickling in on a schedule all of their own. We are flexible and can revise the program as more pieces are added until everything is ready.

Understands that content is the most valuable asset your association has.

When it comes right down to it, your association’s content is what keeps attendees coming back to your conference every year. When those conference programs or proceedings land in the hands of attendees, your association’s reputation is on the line. It all has to be right, or it’s all wrong, and Omnipress can help you deliver perfection.

 

Does every printer truly understand the specific needs of associations? According to our clients, the answer is no. Associations trust us because we know conferences and can empathize with busy meeting planners, executive directors and other association professionals.

When you choose a printer that works with associations,  you’re investing in the success of your conference, and making your life easier in the process. Learn more about how you can get started working with a specialty conference printer.

Expect Exciting Updates in 2018

 

There’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes at Omnipress!

I wanted to use this month’s post to share some of the exciting things our customers can expect from us in 2018. You can watch the video or continue reading below.

The conference-related initiatives we are focusing on this year build on the success we’ve had launching our newest abstract management system, CATALYST. Customer reaction to CATALYST has been fantastic and there has been a lot of positive feedback on the flexibility of the system.

While CATALYST remains an efficient way for event professionals to collect and manage their conference content, we also have some new initiatives underway that will make it easier than ever to get that content into attendees’ hands.

One clear message we’ve heard from talking with our customers is that there is no single format that meets the needs of all attendees. As a result of these conversations, we’re investing in the tools and processes that will help meeting planners create—and manage—a consistent content experience for all attendees, whether they prefer a printed program book, mobile app or online and offline access to digital materials.

Omnipress consists of more than our products, however. I am privileged to lead an amazing team that is truly dedicated to seeing our customers succeed. As our customer roster continues to grow in 2018, we’ll be making investments in our staff and the tools they rely on, to make sure we deliver the outstanding customer support our clients expect from us. We know a lot of our customers think of us as an extension of their staff, and that is a compliment we want to continue to hear throughout 2018, and beyond.

 

Video Transcript

Jonny Popp – Omnipress General Manager:

“2018 is going to be a very exciting year at Omnipress!

“Back in 2016, we launched our new online abstract management system, CATALYST. The first time a meeting planner sees CATALYST, a lot of time their first reaction is how clean, how modern that the interface looks. After that though, they start to realize how flexible the system can be and how many different things it can collect and different ways it can be configured, to really fit their needs.

“As we move through 2018, you can expect to see a lot of new and exciting things from Omnipress.

“We have been investing in our other tools, we’ve been investing in our people and our processes. Because as good as technology is, and as much as technology makes a difference, it’s really the people that are behind it, they are supporting you and what you are trying to do, that really makes the difference.

“We know that planning a meeting is hard and there’s a lot of work that goes into it and a lot of steps along the way, and we want to make sure that our tools and processes are helping you along the way.”

 

Content Marketing For Associations

 

Article Contents:

 

Developing a plan to promote your event is a critical part of conference planning. Marketing can be expensive and time-consuming, and consumers are increasingly skeptical of traditional advertising. This is where content marketing comes into play.

Content marketing is the practice of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract and engage a target audience. This method goes hand-in-hand with your goal as an association: to educate industry professionals and association members.

Luckily, as an event planner, you have a secret weapon: you sit on a goldmine of valuable information. This allows you to:

  • Connect with professionals looking for industry-specific information
  • Remind members of the value your association provides year-round
  • Build awareness of your conference and other events
  • Extend the life of the materials you work hard to collect

These shiny knowledge-nuggets are not something you have to go mining for; they are already at your fingertips.

Why Content Marketing Works for Associations

Content marketing has become one of the most popular ways for organizations to promote themselves online. Associations have some unique advantages when it comes to content marketing:

  • You have existing material. The biggest barrier to content marketing is creating new material. Your existing library of content gives you a head start.
  • Your review process provides authority. You can be confident that your peer-reviewed materials are insightful. This can be especially handy if you are not a subject matter expert.
  • You have access to the latest thinking. Your conference is an industry leader in providing timely, relevant information, allowing you to continue your role as a thought leader throughout the year.
  • You get feedback from the industry. Your conference feedback can provide insight into which topics are most in-demand. Think of this as “focus group” input on the material in your collection.

Reusing your existing content allows you to give your content a second life and extend its use beyond your conference. Using actual event content gives potential attendees a glimpse of the kinds of material at your conference so they can see for themselves why yours is a “can’t miss” event.

Develop a Content Marketing Plan

The first step in launching a content marketing campaign is assessing your existing materials. Determine what kind of content you have available and where it will be located. Your association’s website may seem like a good idea at first, but as time goes on, content can get lost or buried as the site gets updated. It’s best to create a standalone digital conference library. This will give visitors an idea of the broad range of information they can rely on your conference for.

It’s also important to determine a schedule that you will be able to follow. Be realistic. Will you be able to consistently post two pieces of content each week? Or is one piece of content every two weeks more likely? The rate that you choose is less important than your ability to stay on schedule. Readers stay engaged with a blog or social media profile that is updated on a regular basis.

Now that you’ve identified the most relevant materials and decided on how much time you can devote to sharing content online, you’ll need to consider the best ways your association can reach its followers. How can you make your content clickable? One way to effectively grab your readers’ attention is by using images.

Create Images for Social Media

The web is becoming an increasingly visual medium. Adding visual elements to your posts is one of the most effective ways you can increase the impact of your messaging. In fact, posts that include images see 650% more engagement than posts with just text alone.

Here are three conference-specific scenarios where visuals would be an effective way to promote your event. For each scenario, there is an example of an online tool well-suited for creating attention-grabbing artwork with minimal effort.

Scenario #1 – Promote a session by a prominent speaker

The speakers at your conference are a major factor in drawing in attendees each year, so it should be no surprise that speakers make for effective promotional content.

Imagine you’ve just finished your speaker selection process and are ready to announce the keynote speaker. You could certainly type out a post listing their names and the topics they will be discussing (Borrrrrr-ingggg!). A much more engaging approach is to present the same information with a visual design to it.

The Tool #1: Pikiz

Pikiz is an image creator that is perfect for creating simple images that include text. Upload your own background image or choose from the images they have available. Then, double-click on the text box to add a customized message. Another great feature is that each social network has its own preset. This makes it super simple to post great-looking images to your favorite site.

 

Scenario #2 – Present research findings as an infographic

A presentation from last year’s conference coincides with some hot new research that is making the rounds. You know this is a great opportunity to join the conversation and promote your event. Since the presentation is available in your digital content library, it’s ready for people to see. But how do you make sure your post stands out from the crowd of others? Use the findings from the presentation and display it as an infographic!

The Tool #2: Infogr.am

Creating an infographic is a simple three-step process with infogr.am. Choose a design template, enter your data into their spreadsheet viewer and click share. That’s it! The program will create a shareable link to the social media site of your choice. You can also upload your own images or choose different fonts if you want a more customized design.

 

Scenario #3 – Call for award nominations using your own branded graphic

Part of your annual pre-event strategy is to ask for award nominations. You could do what you’ve always done: copy and paste the same text on the same social media networks and get the same results. Or, you can take it to the next level by creating a completely custom design (no designer needed)!

Tool #3: Canva

Canva is like working with a design pro that has dozens of designs ready for you to choose from (but doesn’t charge by the hour). Once you log in to Canva, you’ll see dozens of customizable templates sorted by format. Whether you are looking to create an image for social media, your blog or a poster, Canva has a file ready for you to start designing with. It’s also flexible enough to work with your existing elements. Just add your association logo, a picture of the award and text asking for nominations. You then have the option to share online or download.

 

Catch Their Eye

A well-designed image is critical in catching the attention of busy professionals, so having a visual presence online these days is essential. Presenting your existing content visually is a great way to keep your event in front of the attendees you want to attract.

Thankfully, the web is full of fast and intuitive ways to create custom graphics. With little effort, you can create designs that convey your message in an interesting and engaging way, and most importantly, in a way your audience enjoys seeing.

The next step is sharing those images and other content on platforms that will help you build and connect with your audience.

Promote Your Event on Social Media

Social media platforms are great hosts for content marketing pieces, particularly visuals. The best part about social media is that it’s not only for sharing content—it’s also great for building communities of like-minded people, just like your association! Each platform has its own strengths, so it’s important to assess these and plan content accordingly when designing a content marketing strategy. Below are a few of the most popular social media platforms to get you started.

Instagram

Another platform that’s useful for engaging members is Instagram, a photo and video-sharing social media app. Instagram is great for sharing eye-catching graphics and photos to promote your event and attract potential attendees. Users can accompany their photos with captions and hashtags, which help the posts be seen by non-followers.

Instagram is popular with your youngest members, making it the ideal platform for appealing to Millennials and Generation Z. By sharing posts on Instagram, you have a much higher chance of attracting and engaging a younger demographic to your conferences than on other platforms like Facebook. The most important aspect to Instagram is to make sure your posts are visually appealing and include appropriate hashtags to make sure they are seen.

Twitter

Twitter can be a fantastic tool for event professionals. Its design works well for promoting a conference or creating year-round awareness of your association. Being active on Twitter lets you connect with industry thought-leaders and attendees on a platform that they prefer.

Using original and industry hashtags, retweeting interesting industry sources and sharing quotes and links to your association’s content can transform your Twitter feed into a hub of relevant, valuable industry information. This way, you can keep current members engaged while attracting future members from other parts of the industry.

Twitter is also a great place for personal engagement with industry experts, your conference speakers and your members. Mention speakers in tweets; follow and retweet thought leaders; and like, retweet and reply to your follower’s tweets to create a sense of community while spreading the word about your event.

 

Snapchat

To reach younger members, try using Snapchat to promote your next conference. Snapchat is a particularly useful social media platform during your event, but can also be used before the conference to build anticipation. Snapchats stories, which last for 24 hours, allow you to share behind-the-scenes photos and videos of event set-up. Your speakers can also “take over” your stories to share some insider information about their presentations or industry topics.

A branded Geofilter can be designed specifically for your event and applied the day of the conference, so your attendees can use it when sending snapchats to their friends or story throughout the day. Not only will the Geofilter feel exclusive due to its limited availability, helping engage your attendees, but it can help spread the word about your association.

 

Facebook

Facebook is one of the most-used social media platforms across all age groups, which makes it the perfect place to provide event information and promote the sharing of your conference. Create a Facebook Page for your association where you can post conference information and other content.

You can also create a Facebook Event for your conference and invite current members, encouraging them to invite people who may be interested, as well. This is a free and easy way to spread the word and potentially reach new members through current advocates of your association.

 

Discover Your Audience’s Interests

Now you know that using conference content as a marketing tool is a great way for your audience to learn about your event and the value it provides.

But did you know that it can also be a great way for you to learn about your audience?

By analyzing the data from your content marketing posts, you can learn a number of important things about your audience. First, you can see what parts of the world your visitors come from; this can help you find speakers from those particular regions to boost attendance at your annual event. You can also identify which sites or platforms best connect you with your members, helping you tune your messages on the most critical platforms moving forward.

Most importantly, you’ll be able to identify which types of content your visitors prefer. This feedback can guide future conference planning as well as future content marketing efforts to best connect you with your audience.

Content marketing can also inform you about your own content. By recognizing what messaging is most effective with your audience, you will be better prepared for conference promotion techniques. Additionally, analytics can teach you which topics generate the most interest among your followers; consider including these topics in your next conference event.

Use the information you gain from your content marketing plan to inform future events, connect with key members and create a more successful content marketing strategy overall.

Make Your Content Work Year-Round

The whole point of content marketing is to show your followers you have value to offer with tangible pieces of content you’ve worked hard to collect. Choose the platforms that best connect with your audience and help your association achieve goals, whether that includes your website, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat or one of the many others available online. Most of the content you share can be used across multiple platforms, giving you lots of opportunities to reach new people and prove the value of your event all year long.

If you’re interested in how to take your association’s content marketing strategy to the next level, download our free whitepaper, “Promote Your Event With Conference Content Marketing.”

Now Available: The 2018 State of the Conference Industry Report

 

We are excited to share the 2018 State of the Conference Industry Report!

For the fourth year in a row, Omnipress has tracked the evolution of conference content and the role it plays at an association’s annual event. This year’s Conference Industry Report indicates that while educational content remains a significant source of value that associations provide, association professionals are facing new challenges as they strive to meet attendees’ changing expectations.

To understand how associations are currently using their conference content, we conducted an online survey of 143 association professionals, many of whom are directly responsible for conference planning.

Download the report to learn:

  • How are associations using content to engage members and increase conference attendance?
  • How are associations deciding which formats to offer at their events?
  • Which types of content are associations currently providing at their conference?
  • Are there common challenges that all associations face delivering their conference content?

Takeaway #1: The annual conference remains a central part of the association’s member growth strategy.

With most associations reporting flat membership growth in 2017, the ability to engage and retain existing members is critical. The annual conference provides a unique opportunity to demonstrate the association’s value, and increasing attendance continues to be the number one priority for associations.

Respondents provided some specific areas of focus to increase attendance at their 2018 events:

  • Encourage peer to peer engagement
  • Increase conference quality
  • Update technologies to increase engagement
  • Create more networking opportunities

The opportunity for member engagement extends beyond attending the conference. Associations can provide options for members to participate in other meaningful ways by including an open call for their event. Soliciting presentations from within the association allows the organization to recognize the contributions that members are making in their industry and advance their careers.

Read the full report to learn how other associations use content to engage attendees before, during and after their events.

How the Best Conference Presentations Educate Attendees

 

Education is the primary reason attendees come to your annual conference. This is why your association puts such a focus on selecting the best content for your event. However, content is only half of the equation. How the information is presented and packaged is critical to educating your attendees.

Help ensure your conference provides the educational experience that your attendees seek by following these tips to make sure your speakers deliver engaging conference presentations. And, be sure to provide the opportunity for attendees to revisit the material afterward in order to help the information really stick.

Delivering engaging presentations

In order to help your presenters create a relatable conference presentation, ask them to frame the “story” of their presentation. People relate and react to stories with a beginning, middle and end. Nobody wants to listen to someone recite a list of facts or statistics.

Discussing case studies can help your speakers present specific information in a relevant and engaging way, while at the same time creating this story. Good case studies provide an example of the existing problem, the solution that was implemented and the outcomes that the solution provided.

By creating a story and delivering it personally and uniquely, your conference speakers will be able to more effectively share information. The attendees will appreciate the presentations more and retain more of the content.

When it comes to presentation slides, few things are worse than seeing a speaker’s entire speech pasted in small text. If text is necessary, encourage speakers to limit the number of words on each slide and to use large, easy-to-read font styles and colors. The strategic use of imagery can also vastly improve a presentation, and most conference presentations should include at least one visual or imagery device.

Additionally, encourage your speakers to go out of the box with their presentation, whether that is with organization, media or delivery techniques. The presentation should be unique and interesting, not just a cookie cutter 10-slide powerpoint presentation. Encourage speakers to add interactive elements to their presentations to keep attendees engaged, such as Q&A sessions, audience suggestions and short audience activities.

Your association itself can help speakers create unique conference presentations, too. Avoid forcing speakers to use the same powerpoint template. Although providing a template makes it easy to review the submitted presentations, it also stifles creativity and makes them repetitive and far less interesting to attendees.

Give attendees options to revisit the materials

After your speakers deliver their fantastic presentations, you’ll want to help reinforce that content by giving attendees the option to revisit the materials. Ongoing engagement is critical for attendees to master concepts presented at your event.

To help ensure this happens, make sure your association’s content strategy involves providing resources your attendees can use when they return to their offices. These methods can include sharing content on social media or providing them with a take-home piece like a USB drive.

One of the best ways to help attendees revisit your conference materials, though, is through an online conference library. Here, you can archive your conference materials, including presentations, allowing attendees to return to this information on their own time.

Put your attendees’ educational needs first by helping provide them with engaging conference presentations, then help them retain that content by giving them a tool to revisit it as often as they’d like.

 

Sharing Conference Materials After an Event… Missed Opportunity?

 

The chairs are folded. The hum of the fluorescent lights has come to a halt. Attendees, sponsors and speakers have gone back to their associations and offices. And just like that, your conference is over.

Nothing remains of the conference which took so long to prepare for…except all of the content you spent months collecting!

Are you missing an opportunity here?

What is your association doing with your valuable conference materials after an event? Many organizations fail to repurpose event content and thus, miss a major opportunity to keep the event at the forefront of attendees’ minds.

Don’t let your content fall to the side. Here are four creative ways you can share conference materials AFTER the event.

House material on a searchable website

In addition to handing out conference materials to each attendee at the event, it’s good practice to upload the materials online where all attendees can access it after the fact. Putting your content online allows attendees easy access to whatever materials you’d like to share, whether that’s this year’s materials or all event materials from the past.

Sharing conference materials online also increases the chances of someone discovering your association. Google searches can pull up your content, meaning more people will have the ability to find out about your organization. Even if your content is gated with a password, potential members and attendees looking for industry-specific information will come to know that your association is the place to look and may even join to gain access to it.

Use content to promote your conference on social media

Many of your attendees, speakers and potential members are active on social media, providing you with easy-to-use, free platforms to keep them engaged. The possibilities for sharing conference content on social media are nearly endless; you can summarize key points or interesting facts, provide eye-catching graphics and share links to content hosted online to remind attendees of your content and keep them interested.

If you want to learn more about sharing conference content on social media, our whitepaper,  “Promote Your Event with Conference Content Marketing,” has many more tips and concrete ways to use these platforms.

Repurpose event content on a blog

If your association hosts a blog, it can be the perfect place to repurpose event content and keep the conversation going. Blogs can easily be used to post transcripts, video or audio of the conference, or even just takeaway points from the speakers. Blogging is great for marketing your event, as well. Those who didn’t attend can read about what happened to give them some insight on what they missed.

The content doesn’t just have to come from you, either. Invite industry experts to write a wrap-up of the event or to provide further information about a topic that they discussed.

Create a webinar based on popular themes from the event

A webinar or web series is a way to provide another layer of depth to a particular topic of interest from the event. Use feedback from event surveys to find out what topics your attendees were really interested in and create a webinar about how this topic applies to a current event in your industry or deep-dive into one specific aspect of the topic.

This is also a great way to expand your event’s reach. Your association can decide to offer the webinar or web series to a larger group than those who attended your event, meaning non-attendees can access it and hopefully become interested enough to attend next year.

Sharing conference materials extends your event

You spend months collecting and reviewing content to distribute at your annual event, but it doesn’t have to end once your conference does. Avoid missing an opportunity for engagement by repurposing your event content and sharing it with attendees and non-attendees alike.

10 Tips for Writing Instructions for Your Call for Papers [INFOGRAPHIC]

 

When your association is collecting abstracts for an upcoming event, you want the process to go as smoothly as possible for everyone involved. But naturally, things can get a little complicated, especially if you’re asking speakers to submit many pages of information and multiple file types. Without clear instructions for your submission process, submitters will likely have some questions or problems that can leave them frustrated (and on the phone with tech support instead of finishing their submission).

Nobody likes working with a system that isn’t easy or intuitive. Writing instructions that are clear and concise can help submitters along the way. It’s very important that your instructions are effective. There’s no guarantee that users will read them in their entirety, but they’ll be there to guide them if they do get stuck.

Write easy-to-follow call for papers instructions with these 10 tips

View a larger, printable .pdf version of the infographic heretips for writing call for papers instructions infographic screenshot

Know your audience

Some submitters may not understand the terminology in your instructions. Keep your audience’s background and demographics in mind so you use language you know they’ll understand.

Keep it short

In the age of the internet, users shy away from reading long, complex paragraphs. To increase the chances that your users will read them through, use short, easy to understand sentences.

Use simple terms

There’s no need to use fancy words when writing instructions for your call for papers. Using simple terms will make sure more people understand the process you are explaining.

Use contextual instructions

Supplement your instructions with tips that appear throughout the submission process. These additional points can be written next to specific fields, or appear when a user places their cursor over a “Help” icon. Having these instructions on the page ensures people see them right when they need them most.

Use numbers and bullets

If you want your submitters to follow the instructions like a recipe, use numbered lists to indicate the steps they need to take. If you have more general or optional instructions, use bullets.

Use the imperative

Vague statements can confuse readers. Use the imperative and write your instructions like direct commands. For example, write “Select one topic below,” instead of “Please pick from this list of topics.”

Use different typefaces and sizes

If you need to call attention to a particular instruction or warning, use bold typeface or consider changing the font style or size. Using a different colored font can also help, but keep in mind that colors can be difficult to read for some users.

Anticipate the length of the process

Give submitters an idea of how long the process will take. For example, your submission process may involve 3 sections and take approximately 20-30 minutes to complete. That way, submitters will be able to ensure they have enough time to complete the submission and not be rushed.

Go through a test-run

Because you know your submission program inside and out, you will be less likely to catch instructions that might be difficult to understand. Ask a few coworkers or trusted contributors to go through the instructions and provide feedback before you open the collection site to everyone.

Don’t be afraid to change the instructions

If you think you’ve written clear instructions but you’re still receiving feedback that users are struggling with your system, it’s not too late to change your instructions. Changing them late will still give future users the chance to have a smoother submission process.

Writing instructions for your call for papers may not be as easy as it sounds. When you’re close to a project, providing detailed instructions that external users will understand can be a challenge. But, if you follow these tips, you will produce more effective instructions that can make it easier on submitters!

Now that you have an effective set of instructions for your call for papers, it’s time to get the word out! Read our whitepaper for tips on how to Promote Your Event with Conference Content Marketing.

Do you have any other tips or experiences regarding communicating instructions to your submitters?

The ABCs of USBs: 26 Reasons To Include USBs At Your Next Event

 

Your conference attendees receive a lot of information during your annual event—so much so that it may be daunting to try to take notes or remember it all. But when you give your attendees a USB drive loaded with all of the content from your conference, you’re giving them an easy-to-use way to revisit what they learned and keep your association top of mind.

There are so many reasons why associations continue to hand out USBs at conferences, it’s as easy as A-B-C!

A – Access to Content: Attendees come to your conference to learn, but they might not be able to remember everything they’re presented with. USBs give them access to your conference content during and after the event so they can revisit it as often as they’d like.

B – Banner Ads: By creating an offline site on your conference USB drive, you can showcase banner ads to promote other events or continuing education programs your association members might be interested in.

C – Custom Options: Your USB drive can be customized for your needs. Choose specific colors, shapes and forms, such as a pen or business card USB.   

D – Diverse Documents: You aren’t restricted to only offering one type of file on your USB. Your drive can hold everything from abstracts to program content PDFs and media files.

E – Engagement: Because the USB holds all of your content, your attendees will be able to routinely engage with and revisit it again and again.

F – Full-Text Search: A full-text search option allows users to easily find the content that matters to them by searching through the entire document text.

G – Giveaway Item: Everyone likes getting freebies. USBs at conferences are a great functional giveaway item that your members can continue to use after your event.

H – Hierarchy: Your conference content can be grouped in many different ways to allow your attendees to find it more easily. Organize content by track, session or author.

I – Interactive: USBs are the perfect way to let attendees search your content and explore what is most interesting to them.    

J – Justification: If you’re still on the fence about USBs, remember that your attendees value your association for your content, and a USB is giving them continued access to it. You can also look for sponsors to help defray the costs.

K – Keywords: Keywords are an important way that attendees will search for content after the event, and full-text search helps them find the content most relevant to what they need.

L – Logos: The exterior of the USB drive can show your association or event’s logo to remind your attendees of your organization. And, banner ads and logos on the offline site can also be branded to match your association.

M – Memorable: A USB isn’t something attendees will just throw away after your event is over. They’ll hold onto it because of its functionality, then remember who gave it to them because of the branding.

N – Navigation: Setting your USB up like an offline website provides intuitive navigation that makes it easy for attendees to find what they’re looking for quickly.

O – Offline: Your attendees won’t need an internet connection to access your content, which comes in handy since event venue wifi is rarely reliable. They’ll be able to find what they need on-the-go, no matter what.

P – Power + USB: The newest addition to the Omnipress USB family is a combination USB and mobile device charger that can charge attendees’ phones and other devices. A combination that is perfect for those jam-packed conference sessions!  

Q – Quickly Find Content: An easy-to-use interface, hierarchical content and full-text search make finding your content quick and easy.

R – Reusable: Your attendees can use your USB giveaway after the event to store their personal or professional data, making it a long-lasting gift. And, your branding will be there to remind them of your association every time they use it.

S – Sponsorship Opportunity: Giving away USBs at conferences can provide you with an opportunity to generate revenue for your association through sponsorships. Put your sponsor’s’ name or logo on the USB device or a banner ad. They’ll love the ability to get exposure to a defined audience on a physical product.

T – Take Anywhere: You won’t find another giveaway item as functional, small and portable as USB drives are. Your attendees can easily take your USB drive with them wherever they go!

U – User-friendly: Navigating technology can sometimes be tough, but your attendees will appreciate the clean, easy-to-use interface and quick search options that help them find what they need.

V – Video: Your conference USB can even hold videos if you’d like to add recordings of past sessions, extra content or even a fun thank you video!

W – Web-like Experience: You can set your USB up to look similar to an online web page. Your attendees with appreciate the familiar web experience without needing an internet connection.

X – XL for All Your Content: If you have a lot of content to store, there’s no need to fret! USBs come in many sizes and offer as much storage as you need.

Y – Your Attendees Love Them: There’s a reason so many associations giveaway USBs at conferences: their attendees love them, and so will yours!

Z – Zilch: The number of reasons not to offer your content on USB!

Now that you have 26 new reasons to give USB drives to the attendees at your next conference, why don’t you see what’s so great about them yourself? Request a sample Power + USB drive from Omnipress and be one of the first to test it out.

New Product Preview: Power+ USB™

 

This month, I am very excited to unveil a new, Omnipress-exclusive product: the Power+ USB™. Just as the name implies, it combines USB flash storage and a mobile device charger into one, making it a valuable giveaway item for your attendees.

As a company that serves meeting planners, we attend a significant number of meetings ourselves. Two of the more popular and well-received giveaway items we would commonly see at conferences are USB flash drives and portable power banks. Recently, however, we have noticed an increase in the number of organizers, sponsors and exhibitors who are giving away both items. In fact, back here at the office, some of our own customers are doing the same. Which got us thinking…

Power+ USB™

Omnipress was founded on a culture of innovation, providing services that meeting organizers so desperately needed, but weren’t widely available at that time. Back then, we were pretty much the only printer who could receive hundreds and thousands of abstracts and papers as disparate content, collate and format them into a book of proceedings, and print and ship to the conference both cost-efficiently and within incredibly tight timeframes. How did we do this? We re-configured the standard printing process and developed proprietary equipment that didn’t exist at that time. Fast forward to today, we continue to look for opportunities to help meeting planners in ways that no one else is. Whether through CATALYST®, our newest online abstract management system, or the Power+ USB.

When we noticed an opportunity to potentially combine two very popular products into one, we started by doing our research and quickly found there really weren’t any widely available. And those few we did find were cost prohibitive. So we set out to create our own.

More than just an impressive giveaway or sponsor opportunity, the Power+ USB is a convenient way to distribute your conference content to attendees. With a web-like interface, attendees can browse by content track, schedule or author, or search by specific keyword to continue the learning long after the conference ends.

If you’re interested in seeing a sample before your next conference, let us know. In the meantime, we’ll keep looking for new and innovative ways to help you “Deliver Your Content. Deliver Your Value.”

Hit the Reset Button on Your Content Marketing Program

 

It’s September, which means the mad rush of a new school year has begun, filled with new beginnings, new learnings and new adventures. And not just for the kiddos. Did you know that Labor Day marks a time when many of us adults hit the mental reset button too? New York Magazine featured an article calling it “Second-Chance January”—a time to refocus on our previous personal and professional goals before the end of the year.

If this is true, then Labor Day is a tremendous gift for associations. As the leading source of knowledge, information and development opportunities for your industry, you provide the resources that your current and prospective members are “Googling” right about now. The question is… will they find you?

In a previous post, I observed that too many associations are wasting their most valuable resource—their content—simply because they don’t have a well-defined content marketing program to effectively share it with the world. The content exists in the form of conference educational sessions, continuing education courses, standards and other resources.  But it’s not necessarily repackaged in a way that directly answers some of the most common questions your constituents are asking.

The concept of content marketing is not new to associations by any means. But many of us still struggle to launch and sustain a measurable content marketing program that directly contributes to increased conference attendance, membership and retention.  It’s time to crack this nut once and for all because your competitors—any other free or for-profit resources—already have.

So, during this time of “resets,” and “fresh starts” I challenge you to take just one more step toward leveraging your association content to its fullest potential. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Try these ideas to improve your content marketing program:

  • Create a searchable and discoverable online “home” for all of your conference or other continuing education content, so that you have a destination for your content marketing efforts.
  • Develop a content calendar that re-purposes existing content into multiple topics and formats to lessen the burden on your marketing team.
  • “Gate” your most valuable content behind a simple sign up form to generate new member leads for your organization.
  • Test one or two new channels to expand your reach beyond your active “base” to new audiences.

Any one of these steps can help your association use content marketing to reach your organization’s goals. And with “Second-Chance January” creating a renewed interest in your members’ goals, now is the perfect time to take action!

 

Finding the Right Mix of Conference Materials is a Juggling Act

 

Congratulations! You have successfully sourced, secured and scheduled all the session content for your upcoming conference. And from the looks of things, this conference is going to be one of the strongest yet. With one challenge behind you, it’s time to focus on another important decision: finding the best way to get this content into the hands of your attendees. As we’ve seen in our 2018 State of the Conference Industry Report, for many conference planners, this is not as easy as it sounds.

Content Mix Uncertainties

Forty-five-percent of respondents surveyed in the report listed “Offering a mix of formats to meet the needs of all members,” among their top content-related challenges. Digging further into the data, the reason for this seems pretty clear: Meeting planners must juggle the expectations of legacy attendees with the perceived preferences of newer (and sometimes younger) attendees. All while keeping their conference budgets in line, of course.

Unfortunately, having more options for distributing conference materials creates a new question in the minds of planners: Are we offering the right mix? For instance, 85% of respondents currently offer printed conference materials today, but only 42% plan to continue to offer them in the future. Meanwhile, 69% admit that their attendees still want printed content.

And the issue isn’t just limited to print. The report also indicates that planners intend to replace web-based digital content with content delivered via mobile apps. Is this the right decision for the 66% of respondents who report that their attendees want content made available on a website?

Complicating matters even more, attendees themselves aren’t always the best at telling you what they actually want. We have seen many of our customers remove an option from their content mix, believing it to have a low perceived value because of feedback received from attendees, only to face a surprising amount of backlash after the event.  So how do you know what is truly most relevant to your attendees?

Capturing better, behavior-based data

Some of the associations we work with have developed some simple yet effective ways to gauge attendees’ conference materials preference based on observed behaviors. Here are just a few examples that we found worth sharing:

Opt-in to print. Rather than printing program books or proceedings for every attendee, require them to indicate their print preference during registration. Plan to have a handful of extras on-site for those that will inevitably request them after-the-fact. Between the two, you will have a more accurate measure of the true value of your printed materials. Some associations even go so far as to charge a small fee for the printed piece to help offset the production cost.

Set up analytics and conversion tracking for your online materials. You’ll be able to see how many people access content online and when (before, during or after the conference). You can also see how many attendees download session presentations, handouts and other support materials.

Observe attendee behavior in real-time. As any researcher will tell you, the distance between “stated preferences” and “actual behaviors” can be a mile wide. If you can, recruit volunteers or junior staff to observe and record how members interact with content throughout the duration of the conference.

If you’re like most associations, you are catering to the needs of a diverse membership. Which means there may be no single, magic formula to create the conference content mix that appeals to every attendee. But, there are steps you can take to better measure the true value of your conference materials. Doing so can help you make even better decisions moving forward.

Take Our2022 Training
Trends Survey

Each year, Omnipress collects data from training professionals to benchmark educational content trends. The results will be published in our annual Training Trends Report in early April.

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