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Top 3 Critical Challenges Associations Face in Attracting Attendees for Event Success

A hand reaching up on a ladder, symbolizing the upward growth trajectory of associations

While association events are often about the scale of content it offers, or how impressive its speaker line-ups are, the reality is that the number of attendees it draws in is the real barometer of success for organisers. Yet, even for the most seasoned professional, this is often a huge challenge to overcome.

We take a deeper look at the situation and uncover a few reasons why:

1. There is simply not enough budget allocated to marketing from associations

It may seem intuitive that marketing is a key driver to generate awareness for your event, but the truth is organisers are simply not spending enough on it – with many allocating just 1% of their budget, and not anywhere near the industry benchmark for 30%.

Hence, it is understandable that the marketing campaign do not generate the returns they envision, and thus, dissuades them from spending more in the future.

We are not advocating organisers to splurge on marketing, but instead, recognising that a reasonable budget is required to generate proper returns on campaigns.

Remember, marketing is not a cost, but an investment in growth.

2. Some organizers promote their events without a marketing strategy in place

Just like an event, running a marketing campaign requires a well-formulated strategy before implementing it. Diving in without a plan can become extremely costly.

By identifying the target audience before choosing the approach to use for a campaign, organisers can channel their budget to where it matters most and even build synergy between channels to maximize the returns on investment.

3. Increasing challenge of staying relevant amidst competition from other similar events

With the constant emergence of new events, it is crucial for organisers to find ways to ensure that their event is top of mind among their target audience.

In most cases, many organizers often turn to what they view as time-tested methods such as e-mailers and websites to generate awareness. However, this approach has one major flaw – the audience first need to be part of your existing database.

While a portion of existing attendees will continue to return, there is a greater need to draw in new attendees to expand your following to stay ahead of the competition.


If done correctly, marketing will more than pay for itself and increase attendance.

  1. Why is it essential for associations to allocate sufficient budget to marketing for event success?
    Proper marketing investment drives awareness and engagement, crucial for event success, yet many allocate just 1% of their budget, well below industry standards. Investing in marketing is investing in growth, ensuring proper returns and increased attendance, which are vital for the overall success of the event.

  2. What strategies can be employed to optimize their marketing efforts for successful events?
    Association Organizations must develop comprehensive marketing strategies aligned with audience preferences to maximize returns on investment. By understanding their target audience and tailoring marketing efforts accordingly, associations can achieve broader reach and higher attendance rates, fostering event success through strategic planning and execution.

  3. Amidst increasing competition from similar events, how can relevance be maintained and new attendees be attracted?
    Association organizations face challenges in maintaining relevance amidst growing competition. To stand out, they must embrace innovative marketing tactics tailored to draw new attendees while nurturing existing ones. By continuously adapting and evolving their marketing strategies, one can ensure sustained growth and success in a competitive landscape, ultimately enhancing attendee engagement and satisfaction.

  4. What actionable steps can taken to drive conference attendance growth effectively?
    Association organizations can drive conference attendance growth by implementing robust marketing strategies, including allocating sufficient budget, formulating comprehensive plans, and leveraging innovative tactics to differentiate themselves and foster event success. By focusing on targeted outreach and engagement initiatives, associations can attract a diverse audience and maximize attendance rates, ultimately enhancing the overall conference experience and driving long-term growth.

  5. How can meeting attendance growth be strategically enhanced for events?
    By prioritizing marketing budget allocation and crafting effective strategies, association organizations can attract new attendees and retain existing ones, ensuring sustained growth and success in meeting attendance. Leveraging digital channels, data analytics, and audience insights are key to achieving these objectives. Through strategic planning and continuous optimization, associations can drive increased meeting attendance and deliver exceptional value to attendees, ultimately driving long-term growth and success for their events.

A thought-leadership piece written by the CEO of Kabloom, Richard Torriani.

Updated on May 15th, 2024

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