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How printed material can help with your organization’s meetings and conferences.
Many are convinced that with the ever increasing dependence on the internet and environmental print-naysayers, that the move to an “everything digital” world is inevitable. However, if you are a nonprofit or association leader trying to plan an annual conference, you are aware that printed materials are just plain necessary for such an undertaking. Additionally, as much as we as a society like to say that print is bad for the environment or that it is outdated, as individuals, sometimes we just like to hold a sheet of paper or need to see clearly displayed signage.
In this post, we’ll discuss important elements to planning all of your printing needs for that annual conference including basic planning elements, the pre-meeting including postcards and registration, the meeting including course materials and signage and small takeaways you can give to participants to make sure your conference remains in the forefront of their minds.
Beginning Planning Stages
Planning a large annual meeting or conference can be overwhelming, so it is important to take a few moments to decide which printed materials are needed. Most likely you’ll decide on save-the-date postcards, pre-meeting brochures and flyers, then for the day-of you will need more brochures, flyers, agendas, guidebooks, giveaways and signage.
Postcards, Invitations, and Registration Packets- Conveying Member Value
When announcing your annual conference, it is a given that you will email your members and launch an online campaign to increase awareness and by extension attendance. But, in addition to your online invitation efforts, you should also consider the importance and benefit of mailing save-the-date cards or if you want to be fancy-smancy, you could even mail out folded invitations complete with envelopes.
These little touches will let your members know that they are a valued part of the organization and could also increase the likelihood of their attendance. For example, when I get a save-the-date in the mail, it goes right up on the fridge, increasing the chances that I’ll remember to register and attend the event. If I only receive an email, the chances of my forgetting increase greatly as inboxes can become cluttered quickly and are hard to manage for some.
Once you’ve sent out the invite, it is a good idea to send out a registration packet soon thereafter. For example, the invite should include a CTA for online registration. A week or two after sending out the invites, registration packets can be sent out to those on the snail-mail list who did not register online.
Included in this registration packet should also be information about the venue and the city the conference is being held in. These ‘guidebooks’ will be appreciated by your members and will work double time as informative materials and also as a means of building excitement and anticipation for your participants. Additionally, like the invitation, the packet and guide materials express member value to your organization.
What to distribute at the meeting- Assigning Information and Direction:
So, prior to the meeting, you sent out postcards, invites, and registration packets. But, what should you have at the conference?
Well, a small store of those pre-conference materials should be available, like the registration packets (if day-of registration is allowed), guidebooks and other materials to help attendees get settled in for the conference duration.
Additionally, agendas or schedules are necessary for your attendees. There are many different ways you can inform participants of the schedule. For example, you could go simple and elegant with a postcard or single-sheet agenda that includes the event’s speakers and schedule, or you could go all out and include annual planners.
If you were to choose planners, they could serve a dual purpose as an agenda for the conference but also as a practical takeaway for the attendee. Most will hang on to the planner for a while and as they use it; in addition, members will be reminded about that super-cool conference they attended each time they jot down notes.
Giving attendees something to take home and hold onto could increase the chances of their attending another conference. However, if a planner is not within your budget, but you want to go more elaborate than a single-sheet agenda, you could consider doing a pamphlet with a notes section, industry related factoids or other interesting tidbits to encourage attendees to hold onto the brochure, giving it value beyond the conference duration.
Signage and Day-of Advertising- Communicating Location and Conference Info:
In addition to materials for individual attendees, once the conference is underway, you need to have signage explaining where individual breakout sessions, classes and presentations are taking place on site.
For your printing budget, this translates into directional signs, maps, and schedules posted in key areas for attendees. It is pertinent that these be large, clear and well-placed to insure that attendees can easily maneuver the space. Keep in mind; if attendees have fun this year, they are more likely to come back next year.
Additionally, you may need to post signs en-route to the venue to insure that attendees can easily locate the site. In that light, you may also want to consider directional signage to post roadside. These types of signs may encourage more day-of registration of non-members.
Individual Presentation Packets and Course Materials- Enhancing Overall Conference Experience:
Depending on the size of the event, you may also need to consider having individual course materials printed for small presentations and breakout sessions that will occur throughout the course of the conference. These would take the form of packets including pamphlets with pertinent presentation info, folders and/or note-taking materials like a small notepad and a pen. For branding purposes, it is an excellent idea to give participants a little something extra to take home. And, everybody loves free pens!!
While getting presentation materials from presenters ahead of time can be difficult, having these materials for your attendees will enhance their overall experience and increase the likelihood that they will attend again in the future. And so, in the end, it may be worth the hassle to needle your presenters for advance outlines to include in the presentation packet.
Most nonprofits and associations will admit that their largest revenue generator after member dues is the annual conference. SO, in that light, your annual conference is your time to shine and really demonstrate to members where their monetary donations and volunteer efforts pay off. The best way to do that is to throw the best possible conference, encouraging members to be frequent attendees and conveying their value as members and volunteers to your nonprofit or association.
The best way to follow through with this is with printed materials that demonstrate value and practicality to attendees in addition to other printed materials like signage, guidebooks and agendas that will enhance their overall experience once there. For your next annual conference, consider calling up CTR Services for your printing needs and let our specialized and experienced staff help you plan the best darn annual conference this side of Disney World.