This post is from an article written by Paige Cardwell and published in ASAE’s Marketing Insights newsletter.

The role of meetings and events continues to evolve along with the needs of our attendees. And our marketing strategies must evolve as well. In today’s world of transparency, unlimited access to information and online networks, we need to find new ways to engage our attendees and persuade them with specific messages that our meeting is relevant and worth their time. We need to prove that what they’ll experience at our meeting is unique and can’t be found anywhere else, and as a result, they’ll grow both personally and professionally.

So what elements of our marketing plans and strategies are impacted by this new environment? Messaging. Tactics. Timing. Delivery channels. It impacts almost every aspect of your marketing program. The marketing mix has become far more comprehensive and the channels have all become crowded with more noise, which makes it harder to get your message to “break through.” Breaking through with the right message is key. Here are some fundamental insights and strategies that will help your meeting promotions be more effective and relevant, and yield better results.

Make your meeting a “must attend.”

It’s our job to keep our meetings chock-full of “not-to-be-missed” and “see-it-here-first” content which effectively positions your event as high-value and must-attend. As meetings compete with the plethora of readily available online information as well as networking opportunities, our messages must clearly demonstrate that attending our event is a far superior and dynamic experience than any online interaction. Take the time to upgrade your event by enhancing the customer experience. Add something new, unique, and exciting; bring in strategic partners to expand the offerings and the audience; rethink your networking events to bring an element of playful fun into the mix. You may be surprised at the positive reaction. Now you have the opportunity to communicate all that’s new and improved and how it will add value to the attendee’s experience — making you stand out from competitors.

Give them what they want, not what you think they want.

Gone are the days of talking at your attendees. Straight up marketing and sales speak is a thing of the past. Now we have to talk in terms of their specific wants and needs. How do you do this? Just ask.

The most effective meeting and event organizers are taking the time to get in touch with their attendees and target audiences through in-depth research and interviews. By talking directly to the customer, you can hear in their own words why the meeting is important, how it can be improved, what will keep them coming back, and what it will take to get them to spread the word to colleagues and peers. By building an event that speaks directly to their wants and needs, it will be more relevant, valuable, and integral to their personal and professional growth.  The stronger the value proposition, the stronger the messaging you can deploy. Plus, you’ll get keen insights into how the attendees talk about the event in “their” voice which will make your messages resonate even more.

Get your attendees to tell your story.

There’s nothing better than a true attendee testimonial that speaks to a tangible value of your meeting. Spend some time at your show doing “in-the-moment” interviews with your attendees to capture their experience in real time when the energy and excitement are high. Be strategic about who you interview. Make sure you hit all of the audience segments, demographics, and target markets so you have a comprehensive representation of “voices.” Edit the best sound bites into a short promotional video that weaves together all of the value propositions in the personal words of the attendees. The result is a very compelling, and objective, marketing tool for your meeting. Videos are a popular and compelling channel of communication and are quickly becoming the preferred method of information collecting by online consumers.

Make your Web site the heart of your marketing program.

Because of the availability of dynamic and digital content, static marketing programs are a thing of the past. Attendees expect to go to your Web site and have an interactive experience with your meeting. The most effective meeting Web sites feature powerful and rich content experiences using videos, attendee interviews, photo galleries, session highlights and podcasts, and more. They also incorporate their social networks so that visitors can see the content offerings across all online channels in one place, at one time. Chances are that every marketing effort and tactic will take people to your Web site at some point during the decision making process. Make certain it represents.

Hail the mail. Print is still it.

When you take the time to know your audience and craft compelling messages, you can’t leave it to chance that they’ll be received. With today’s over-crowded communications channels, it’s harder and harder to be noticed. And this is why the mail still rules. Think about it. Think about how much less mail you receive today compared to just a few years ago. What’s great for the environment is also great for marketers. The need to physically touch and interact with your mail keeps it an effective and critical part of your marketing program. Just because people register online, doesn’t mean that a postcard, brochure, or letter didn’t prompt them to take action.

Opt-in for e-mail success.

Email has become a commodity marketing vehicle. It’s cheap, it’s easy, and everyone is doing it. But that is exactly why response rates continue to decline.  The key to effective email is the quality of your list, and how you treat that list. Your email subscriber list is one of your most powerful assets. To keep those subscribers from opting out, use your lists with care and caution. Give them news. Give them information. Turn your marketing messages into insightful content and editorial. Personalize whenever possible, test subject lines, do a text-only version. Coordinate deployment of your emails with other departments to make sure as an organization, you are not bombarding your members. Then, watch your open rates climb.

It’s a new world of meetings and event marketing. Attendees want to know now, more than ever, what’s in it for them, and how specifically our event will help them succeed. Take the time to know your meeting attendee — their wants, needs and all the ways your event delivers value to them personally and professionally. Use that information to craft compelling messages that resonate with the target audience. Send those messages via a comprehensive marketing mix to assure your event breaks-through and connects with your audience wherever they are. That’s the recipe for meeting marketing success.

Paige Cardwell is president of CSG Creative, a full service agency that specializes in marketing association meetings, conventions and membership retention and acquisition campaigns.