Public Relations and Communications

Are your brand evangelists spreading the love?

by Jennifer Johnson and Jennifer Jones

Do your attendees and exhibitors have such positive experiences that they tell their colleagues about your event? Are your association members so passionate about your organization that their referrals are driving up your member numbers? Do your marketing peers envy the number of retweets and shares on your social media pages? If so, then you know the power a strong brand can have in the hands of a well-connected evangelist. To further capitalize on this phenomenon and convert more of your constituents into cheerleaders…

Build your brand from the inside out.
First, engage in a brand audit that starts with your staff and volunteer leaders who interact with customers, be they members, exhibitors, attendees, sponsors or even vendors. Getting your staff “brand ready,” especially before events, is critical. Ask yourself: Is my team prepared to deliver expert customer service regardless of their position in the organization? To answer questions and solve problems? To represent the brand in social channels? Will my team be dressed in a way that reflects the brand? There’s no more accurate reflection of a brand than the team of people that embodies it.

Create experiences that delight.
Likely the first time you heard of Uber, it was from an Uber customer, right? And perhaps your own experience was so positive—from the easy-to-use app to the speed of service to the reasonable pricing—that you, too, felt compelled to share with your peers. Are you creating experiences for your attendees and/or members that would encourage the same kinds of conversations? Too often, an organization defines a brand only as a logo and a visual identity. These are important components that help you communicate your brand, but experiences far exceeding expectations are what will spark conversations and put real meaning behind your brand.

Provide relevant content that facilitates sharing.
When you provide rich content that is easily accessed and digestible, you’re not only keeping your audience engaged, you’re giving them something valuable to share with their networks. The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) does a great job of providing cutting-edge industry content on its event website. Industry trends, backed by studies and survey results, are prominently featured throughout the site and used to entice visitors to learn more by attending the event. The site also allows users to share content through email and social media.

Use social media to drive engagement.
Social media is the perfect environment to facilitate conversations among members, attendees, prospects and other stakeholders. Evaluate your current social strategy by performing a quick audit of your channels. Do they fit your brand and are they where your current and future members are? Put your efforts into the channels that appeal to your audiences and complement your brand. Increase engagement by holding contests, asking stakeholders to share stories, “like” or “favorite” content that your evangelists post, and hold social media “boot camps” for highly engaged volunteers, staff and leaders.

Build your team, ensure an exceptional experience, deliver content that is key and ensure top of mind visibility—Follow these simple steps and start feeling the love!