Producing non-dues-revenue-from-virtual-events


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Producing non-dues-revenue-from-virtual-events

  1. 1. Panel DiscussionAugust 26, 2008Producing Non-Dues RevenueFrom Virtual EventsExecutive SummaryModerator: Tim Wilson, KRMPanelists: Christopher Dean, KRM, Account Manager Rick Olson, KRM, President and CEO Mary Taggatz, KRM, Account Manager Ann Werner, KRM, Event Services Manager Executive Summary produced for KRM by
  2. 2. KRM Virtual Seminar Producing Non-Dues Revenue from Virtual Events August 26, 2008Producing Non-Dues Revenue from Virtual Events Moderator: Tim Wilson, KRM Panelists: Christopher Dean, KRM, Account Manager Mary Taggatz, KRM, Account Manager Rick Olson, KRM, President and CEO Ann Werner, KRM, Event Services Manager than 6,000 events for hundreds of clients, no client has everBig Idea seen their virtual events negatively impact their face-to-face events. In fact, the opposite has been seen. One KRM client,Many associations are enhancing their member education strategy after introducing virtual education events, experienced aby offering virtual seminars. In doing so, they are satisfying their doubling of attendance at face-to-face events. (Similarly,members while tapping an additional source of non-dues revenue. some associations have wondered if offering CDs from virtual events might hurt attendance at these events. Again, KRMSuccessful execution of virtual events requires relevant topic has never seen a situation where this occurred.)choices; careful consideration of the pricing strategy; creative mar-keting; and diligence regarding the event’s logistics and details. Virtual and face-to-face events offer different experiences,Effective execution can be aided by selecting a partner with the have different objectives, and represent different value propo-requisite experience and capabilities to produce successful virtual sitions. Conferences provide opportunities that can only occurevents. face-to-face, such as networking, while virtual events offer unparalleled convenience, provide a forum for group learning,Quick Summary: and are low cost (since no travel expenses are incurred). Virtual events don’t compete with an association’s face-to-face Rather than compete with face-to-face events, virtual events events; they complement them. complement them—enhancing overall member value. A compelling value proposition is the key to convincing mem- “We look at virtual events as supplementing, or com- bers to attend virtual events. plementing, face-to-face events, not replacing them.” ⎯ Rick Olson Marketing virtual events calls for using a unique set of marketing and promotion practices. Q: How can webinars’ expense be justified when one-day Adhering to best practices in speaker preparation can enhance workshops, typically better attended, bring in higher revenue? the member experience. A: Webinars can be complementary to educational workshops, Choosing the right format, technology, and vendor can improve offering a different value proposition. But, it is important to the member experience and the value delivered. clarify some misconceptions: Creative low-risk options exist to get started with virtual events. ⎯ Better attended. Workshops aren’t necessarily better attended than virtual events. The virtual events that KRM produces are often attended by 200 to 300 sites, with eachContext site having four people on average. (Not many workshops have 800 or 1,000 attendees).In this teleseminar, KRM team members drew on their experience ⎯ Higher revenue. Based on the number of attending siteshaving produced more than 6,000 virtual events to answerquestions about virtual events posed by association executives. and the price per site, revenue from virtual events can be greater than the revenue from workshops. And, work- shops, which require renting hotel space and serving food,Key Takeaways entail higher costs than virtual events. Both virtual and face-to-face events are integral parts of a Webinars can also be used in tandem with face-to-face comprehensive member education strategy. events; for example, by inviting workshop participants to Some association executives wonder if virtual events will replace share follow-up experiences in a virtual gathering at a later face-to-face events and if frequent virtual events might prove date. overwhelming. Q: With 18 webinars planned in 2008, how do we . . . not over- Q: How can we get over the fear that virtual events will replace whelm members by the frequency of events? the real, live events of the association? A: Overwhelming members is a risk, but it can be avoided by: A: Virtual events are “real, live” events. They allow people from 1. Choosing “hot topics.” If the content of the virtual events is across the country or around the world to interact. They aren’t relevant—such as new laws or regulations or new face-to-face, but they are live. research findings—members won’t feel overwhelmed; they Regarding potential concerns that virtual events might replace will see value in frequent events. face-to-face events, in KRM’s 14 years of producing more Summary created for KRM by: Page 1
  3. 3. KRM Virtual Seminar Producing Non-Dues Revenue from Virtual Events August 26, 2008 2. Segmenting your members. Not all topics appeal to all “It’s really important to clearly differentiate between members. Segment your members based on their inter- free and paid events if you plan to transition from ests and target those who have interest in a topic. one to the other or to offer both.” 3. Providing valuable information. Make sure your virtual ⎯ Christopher Dean events give attendees information to use immediately. Q: How do you determine the optimal price for webinars, audio 4. Making the entire experience positive. By making the conferences, and virtual events? entire experience a positive one, members will not feel overwhelmed and will want to participate in future events. A: Deciding on pricing is based on assessing the value that members place on a virtual seminar. “Satisfied attendees will want to attend more of your events and will welcome additional virtual seminars KRM’s association clients generally charge $90-$250 per site from you and your organization.” for members and $115-$410 for non-members. Associations ⎯ Ann Werner are selling, and members are buying, a “site license” which allows any number of people at a site to participate.The key to attracting members to attend virtual events is Considerations for setting the price include:offering a compelling value proposition. ⎯ Goals. Some organizations merely want to cover theirAssociation executives wrestle with the best model for virtual costs while others see virtual events as an attractiveevents, the optimal pricing strategy, and how to generate non- source of non-dues revenue.dues revenue if they’ve been offering events for free. ⎯ Value. Organizations must determine the value of the content being presented. Is it unique? Is the speaker ofQ: Whats the best way to generate revenue via webinars—by high interest and limited access to members? Other charging attendees or by using a sponsor-funded model and factors that affect the value are the length of the event, the allowing attendees to attend for free? number of people who can be trained at one time, andA: Both models can work; the right model depends on an asso- value-added components such as white papers, books, ciation’s goals. However, in KRM’s experience, the attendee- study aids, and executive summaries. pay model is more likely to be successful and sustainable. ⎯ Alternatives. What is the cost of comparable educational Considerations in deciding which model to use include: alternatives? In many cases the cost for someone to ⎯ Perceived value. People value something more when they attend a workshop isn’t just the tuition, but includes travel pay for it. With a sponsorship model, people may be time and expense. Not only does a virtual event allow skeptical of “free” content, questioning its objectivity or multiple people to be trained, it eliminates travel expenses fearing they will be pressured to relinquish their contact and time out of the office. information. “There’s high value in the ability to train a number ⎯ Commitment. When people pay to attend an event, they of people at each location for one price.” are more committed. Free events experience much higher ⎯ Ann Werner no-show rates (50% plus) than paid events (less than 5%) as well as more late arrivals and early departures. Q: How to earn non-dues revenue without “pricing out” members? (In other words, how much is too much?)Q: How do I get buy-in from members when Ive been offering webinars free of charge? A: In KRM’s experience having reviewed tens of thousands of participant evaluations, few participants say that a webinarA: If you can, never give away what you might want to charge for was too expensive. Factors to keep in mind in optimizing later. If you’ve already offered free events and now plan to prices include: charge, the key is to clearly differentiate the value of paid ⎯ Look at competition. How are competitive offerings priced? events versus free ones. Ways of differentiating include: ⎯ Focus on differentiation. It can make sense to price at a ⎯ Length. Free events might be 30 minutes whereas paid events are 60 or 90 minutes. premium if your offering justifies it. The justification for higher prices includes having reputable presenters, ⎯ Format. Free events might entail a presentation while paid delivering a better member experience, and providing events can be interactive, with interaction and Q&A. value-added offerings, such as supplemental reading ⎯ CEU credits. Perhaps attendees at paid events earn CEU materials and/or tools that help members focus on credits while credits are not offered at free events. (While practical applications of the information presented. offering CEU credits can enhance a virtual event’s value Most associations offer different prices for members and non- proposition, CEU credits aren’t necessary to construct a members, often giving members a $50 or $100 discount. compelling proposition.) Summary created for KRM by: Page 2
  4. 4. KRM Virtual Seminar Producing Non-Dues Revenue from Virtual Events August 26, 2008Making virtual events successful requires effective ⎯ Emphasized unique speakers/content. Bring to membersmarketing and promotion. speakers and information that are important to them andWith several marketing channel choices and even more options that are difficult for them to experience face-to-face.about what to say in promotion materials, association executives ⎯ Started low-tech. Start with low-tech, phone-based tele-need to be aware of the tactics that work best for virtual events. conferences. As members get familiar, migrate to webinars, streaming video, and more interactivity.Q: Whats the most effective way to market these events? Q: How do you overcome reluctance of members to participateA: Some advice based on KRM’s experience: when they don’t know enough about the event? ⎯ Use blast emails. The marketing channels with the best response rates for virtual events are also the least expen- A: Use messaging and promotions that sell the benefits of sive: blast email and prominent website placement. Other participating and eliminate the risks. Specifically: media that have worked well for some: blast faxes and ⎯ Focus on the topic. It is the topic that sells a virtual voice mails, press releases, and voice clips on your web- seminar. Overcome reluctance by focusing on the topic. site. Direct mail has not worked well for virtual events. ⎯ Emphasize convenience. Clearly communicate how ⎯ Give potential attendees plenty of notice. Send at least two blast emails for an event; one four weeks before the simple and easy virtual events are. event to create awareness and buzz, and another one ⎯ Use money-back guarantees. Such guarantees reassure week in advance. In KRM’s experience, 30% of registra- risk-averse members that they have recourse if their fears tions occur 1 to 7 days prior to an event and 4% occur the pan out. (Few members will ask for their money back.) day of the event. ⎯ Offer “one free.” To overcome reluctance, offer a member “We have data to support that it’s best to send out a free webinar. Doing so lets them experience the bene- that first notice as early as possible. . . . But the fits first hand. (But, so that members don’t perceive a bait beauty of virtual events is that they can happen with and switch, be clear that they will be charged in the future advance planning or very short notice.” and make them aware of the ongoing price.) ⎯ Mary Taggatz ⎯ Employ testimonials. Invoking testimonials from satisfied participants can be persuasive, as can posting excerpts ⎯ Keep promotions simple. For the best response rates, from events on the association’s website. feature only one event per email or fax rather than several. Avoid burying the promotion with a lot of other information. Q: Any tips for marketing an extended training or certification ⎯ Market to narrow member segments. Virtual events are program over a series of 60- or 90-minute sessions? ideal for niche topics. Market only to members likely to be interested, so that members don’t feel inundated. A: If the content is part of the same subject matter, not discrete topics, and/or if certification is involved, such programs have ⎯ Deliver what you promise. Trying to increase the audience a greater chance of success. by promoting in overly general terms can backfire—poten- tial attendees will refrain from registering because they Adhering to best practices in speaker preparation can can’t tell if the event is right for them and attendees are enhance the member experience. disappointed because the event was not what they envisioned. Provide very specific information on who Engaging presenters and coaching them are also on the minds of should attend and why. association executives considering a virtual education offering. ⎯ Don’t be confined by traditional scheduling taboos. Sched- Q: How do you train industry experts to deliver like a uling virtual events can be counterintuitive. Unlike with professional? face-to-face events, Mondays and Fridays, summer months, and even holiday weeks often have good turnout. A: Share with presenters snippets of past, highly rated presen- When people dont have to leave the office to attend, tations that model the desired performance. Your virtual event scheduling can be more flexible. vendor may be able to provide assistance. For example, KRM’s moderators are broadcast industry veterans who giveQ: Our members are not that tech savvy and havent bought into speakers tips on relaxing (such as imagining an audience of e-learning. How do we convince them that e-learning can be one and envisioning laughter at humorous comments), so that an important and cost-effective training solution? they will deliver a professional presentation.A: They don’t need to be tech savvy to realize tremendous value “As moderator I try to take care of all the details from virtual events. When KRM has seen associations have of running the event and make the speaker as success it is because these organizations have: comfortable as possible, so they can concentrate ⎯ Sold the benefits of virtual learning. These benefits aren’t on their presentation.” about technology. They are about educating multiple ⎯ Tim Wilson people at once, avoiding travel, and cost effectiveness. Summary created for KRM by: Page 3
  5. 5. KRM Virtual Seminar Producing Non-Dues Revenue from Virtual Events August 26, 2008Q: When the expert you invite to present a webinar isnt the most Q: What is the easiest way to get started with virtual events that engaging speaker, whats the best way to prepare him/her? generate non-dues revenue?A: In addition to the training suggestions, experiment with for- A: KRM has developed a way for associations to present their mats that take the burden off the speaker, such as a panel members with content from other providers. Members are discussion or an interview format. Using electronic question able to participate in existing events and the association submissions and audience polls also helps. These techniques earns royalties for bringing attendees to the program. help the speaker feel more confident and engage listeners. Associations bear no financial risk in this scenario.Q: How do I get professionals to participate as presenters? Alternatively, associations can form partnerships with other organizations to conduct joint events. Another option: startA: Sell them on the idea—explaining why it’s important, what’s in with low-risk content—a hot topic or content based on it for them, and the expected results. Presenters who are time member feedback. constrained or nervous about speaking live can pre-record their presentation and then join in for the Q&A. Q: What should we consider when selecting a webinar vendor?Choosing the right format, technology, and vendor can A: The vendor’s experience and capabilities. Ask how manyimprove the experience and the value delivered. events they have ever produced and how many they handle each month. Ask about their level of resources and commit-Logistics such as format and technology issues can seem ment to your event. Other factors to consider:daunting without the guidance of an experienced virtual eventpartner—as the following questions suggest. ⎯ Long-term partnership potential. Is this a vendor that can support your needs long term?Q: When should you use audio conferencing versus webinars? ⎯ Ability to help you achieve your goals. Is this organizationA: Let the content dictate the format. Consider if the features of a partner that can help your organization realize your non- various media enhance the learning experience or not. dues revenue goals? ⎯ Pre-event support/training. What pre-event training capa-Q: How do you build interactivity into your event? bilities are offered? Will they help train speakers andA: Before the event, get input regarding the content (during the presenters? registration process). During the event, do electronic polling ⎯ Live event support. What resources and capabilities are and Q&A. After the event, encourage the participants at each available to provide support during the event? How many site to have discussions about the topic. people are available to provide assistance? ⎯ Post-event support and reporting. What reports areQ: How do you handle registration? Does the association collect provided after an event? How quickly are they furnished? money and send instructions, or does the webinar company? ⎯ Pricing and contract provisions. How does the vendorA: Registration can be handled by the association or vendor. A price its services and what are the terms of its contract? cost-benefit analysis can help determine which way is best for your organization, taking into consideration the association’s capabilities and those of a vendor. Other Important Points Attendance caps. In some instances associations may choose “Pay-to-attend members are not very tolerant of to create a cap of 100 or 200 sites. However, technology is not delays in registration. . . . The questions are who the limiting factor; technology allows for much larger audiences. can handle it best and at what cost.” ⎯ Rick Olson Assisting non-attendees. There will always be members who were interested in a topic but were unable to attend the virtualQ: What are best practices for virtual events’ customer support? event. An organization can deliver value to these members by Our member support staff is not equipped to handle the having archived recordings and complementary materials such technical support these products require. as transcripts, executive summaries, and discussion guides.A: Day-of-event issues can be tricky and the stakes high. A pre- On-demand education. Associations are increasingly offering senter can get disconnected, or insufficient capability to on-demand education, such as podcasts. But, these offerings handle late registrants can result in money left on the table. are in addition to in-person events; not instead of them. For these reasons, having a vendor that has focused and Read more about it. For a copy of Ann Werner’s white paper, dedicated customer service resources is an important “Five Critical Mistakes Association Executives Make When They consideration. (KRM usually handles the IT support and Attempt to Earn Non-Dues Revenue from Webinars, Audio registration details for its customers.) Conferencing, and Virtual Events and How You Can AvoidSeveral creative, low-risk ways exist to get started with Them,” email KRM at events—and earning non-dues revenue from them.It is possible to get started quickly, easily, and at no risk. Summary created for KRM by: Page 4