Yesterday, I mentioned the success of Access Intelligence's EVENTtech's "Ready. Set. Register." in big letters on one of their main promos. Looking now at New Hope Network's Esca Bona Conference—I see a similar maneuver in one of the emails:
CONVENE. COLLABORATE. DISRUPT.
There just might be something to this. The conference brought in 258 registrations, a 20% increase from 2015. Sponsorship revenue increased 50%! The marketing also brought 3,000 new names to the database, 561 new Twitter followers and 265 Facebook page follows.
Esca Bona was created in 2015 to fill a void in the Natural Foods Conference segment. "Starting a new conference in an already crowded space is quite challenging not to mention the continued effort required to build a brand," wrote Melissa Johnson, manager, marketing automation programs for New Hope Network/Informa.
(Johnson will speak at our Best Practices Conference on Website Optimization in Atlanta Oct. 19 and our Business Information & Media Summit (BIMS) in Fort Lauderdale, Nov. 13-15. In addition, a SIPA webinar will focus on the success of the Esca Bona conference, Wednesday, Aug. 23. Register here - free for members.)
Yet they succeeded. Esca Bona 2017 is set for Oct. 16-18, again in Austin. There are several lessons to be learned from this excellent event:
Be creative... with the copy. Involve readers. "Gone is the typical boring prose; in with messaging that takes on a conversational flair," Johnson wrote. "A sense of community, of working together, and of doing good were all recurring themes." "We're rewriting the next decade for food," one headline read. An email began "We're gathering good food's renegades." And another: "It's a do-and-show event: Be prepared to share your experiences..."
Pick a location that makes sense. "Austin brings the entrepreneurial energy, rebellious spirit and authentic creativity that is Esca Bona," an email pronounced. SIIA's Connectiv division, also filled with successful entrepreneurs, had a popular conference in Austin last year. Hopefully, your place reflects your event in some ways as well.
Use real faces. "The Renegades Making Esca Bona Possible," blares a big headline. It's followed by big and beautiful circular photos of nine attendees. The group is diverse in age and gender and conveys the community New Hope is trying to build.
Be creative... on social media. A Twitter feed shows a woman with a cap that reads Make Food Great Again. A slogan they use on Facebook and banners is, F**d SHouldn't Be a Dirty Word. Another Facebook post shows a bottle of beer. "Making beer from wasted bread; we'll toast to that."
Use your other properties to sell the new one. "Esca Bonacentric education (i.e. food accessibility, urban farming, and food tech) was integrated into other New Hope conferences throughout the year," Johnson wrote. It was also promoted to individuals associated with other New Hope brands.
Appeal to emotion. "At Esca Bona, our goal is to fix a broken food system by bringing together the brightest progressive minds in the industry, which is exactly why we thought of you."
Convey togetherness. People like to be part of teams, and the Esca Bona folks played that up. Teamwork Makes the Dream Work, one email read. "[It's time] to fix the issues we face in building a good food future for all."
Be confident and push your audience a bit. "Esca Bona is limited to 300 of the best minds across the industry," reads an early email. "Our 2015 event sold out early and we predict the same for 2016. Reserve your spot today!"
Pick a name with character. Esca Bona means good food in Latin. It gave them a unique-sounding conference.
Be creative... with sponsorships. The conference has no exhibitors, but it does have multiple sponsorships and partners. These opportunities range from "problem-solving lunches to water conservation to service projects (ex: providing tools to create an urban garden)."
If possible, take a good-for-society strategy. "Are you someone that puts people ahead of profits? Someone that is focused on innovating to improve lives? Someone that is dedicated to re-building food-accessible communities? Join us—it's your time." Not every conference has that obvious tie-in. But in these times, it might be worthwhile to initially incorporate that motif.
Use interesting photography. I already mentioned the faces—those are not your average shots. All the pictures they use are very sharp and on point. Check out the 2017 website.