Storytelling conference marketing


Why use storytelling for marketing your conference?

Research from Stanford University shows “stories are remembered up to 22 times more than facts alone.” Similarly, when you think about how long a piece of media can keep your attention, you will likely watch a TV episode for longer than an advertisement.

This is because an episode of TV is focused on a story you want to see the conclusion for, whereas an ad will often only provide you with facts about the product.

By incorporating storytelling into your conference marketing, you can make your marketing materials more memorable and attention-grabbing – ultimately leading to higher registration rates.

How to create a story in your conference marketing

While your conference is not like a TV episode, there are several elements that you should aim to replicate within your conference marketing materials to create a story your audience will be interested in.

1. Relatable Characters

The people within your marketing materials need to reflect your target audience. Your audience will connect best with the main character – either a natural person or a fictional character – that they can relate to.

Understanding your audience demographics is key to choosing relatable characters since you will need to match your target audience’s gender, age, ethnicity, and job role in your marketing materials.

It can also help to go beyond the basic demographic information to project a well-rounded character (and therefore more interesting) and relevant to your target audience. For example, while the parental status of your members may not apply to their day-to-day interactions with your association, showing characters with young children will help your marketing materials resonate better with parents.

2. Realistic Touchpoints

Similarly to the relevance of the characters within your marketing materials, you need to ensure that there are touchpoints relevant to your target audiences, such as specific problems, environments, experiences or concerns.

For example, suppose your target audience has general concerns about taking time away from a busy work schedule to attend a conference. In that case, your characters should also demonstrate a busy work schedule, enabling your audience to see their situation reflected in the story.

Note: While many of your touchpoints may relate to the conflict in the story (see point 3), the best storytelling incorporates other realistic touchpoints to create a more relatable story overall.

3. Conflict

No matter why it is being told, every story needs to include conflict to keep audiences engaged. Audiences will have a more significant emotional response when the dispute is resolved (see point 4).

Conflict can sound like a difficult thing to incorporate into your conference marketing. Still, it will only reflect challenges that you have solved or are solving for your attendees anyway.

Conflict can come from:

  • Failure to achieve a goal (at first)
  • Obstacles in the way of achieving a goal
  • A problem that arises from nowhere but has significant consequences

Once again, a solid understanding of your audience and their challenges will be crucial to developing a story that tackles conflict relevant to them. It can also help to think back to why your conference was started in the first place and what it aims to help members with.

You will likely be able to create multiple stories around all the problems you help attendees to achieve. Such as educating them about the latest developments in their field that can help them treat future patients,  introducing them to essential members in their industry that can open up job opportunities and others.

4. Resolution

The best stories have a satisfying resolution – and it should be no different when storytelling within your conference marketing.

Audiences want to see a resolution to the conflict mentioned above that they would be happy with if they were in the same situation. This is where your conference should shine. Conclude your story by highlighting how your conference helps to resolve the conflict.

Finishing your story on a fun, positive, or optimistic note will leave audiences with the same final impression of your conference with audiences – which is crucial to building the affinity and loyalty that leads to conference registrations.

How to maximise the impact of storytelling in your conference marketing

Use all channels and mediums

A common misconception about storytelling marketing is that you can only do it through video content and on social media platforms.

While both videos and social media are incredibly useful delivery methods when marketing your conference, there are several other channels and mediums you can use to tell stories about your event.

Research your target audience to utilise the best channels to reach them, including email, social media, and even print marketing. Once you know which channels you are going to use, you can create stories through various mediums, including static images, written content (e.g. blogs or written testimonials), and, yes, videos.

Use stories from previous events to improve authenticity

Even with a great story, audiences will always look for proof that you can solve their problems as claimed. You can quickly enhance the authenticity of your storytelling marketing materials by using real stories, testimonials, and case studies from your previous events.

Align your company culture to the story

When your own team is aligned with the message conveyed in the story, they will naturally project this same message during their interactions with association members, partners, and other organisations that add to the authenticity of your claims. You can also share relevant stories from within your association that demonstrate the same values you have committed to in your marketing story.

Get your sponsors to support you

The more organisations that get involved with your story, the more people it will reach and the more significant impact it will have. Make sure that your sponsors (plus guest speakers and exhibitors) agree to support you, either by contributing to the story themselves or at least sharing it with their existing audiences.

READ MORE: 4 Ways to Promote your Association Event

When running a conference, it is essential to get attendees for it to be a success. Utilising storytelling in your marketing can help you increase registrations and deliver an excellent conference for your attendees, sponsors, and stakeholders.

Want support organising or marketing your conference? Get in touch with our team of Professional Conference Organisers.

Congrex Switzerland is an international operating event agency delivering customised solutions for medical and scientific associations. This encompasses the overall organisation of conferences and meetings as well as the management of associations to help them grow and prosper. Annually Congrex Switzerland organises approximately 45 events with over 70’000 delegates and manages the secretariat of several Swiss and European associations.

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