Aligning an Event Idea With a Marketing Plan Aspen Group

Aspen Group
PROJECT INFORMATION
SERVICES
DATE
July 28, 2018

With a passion to create something that reached beyond the physical design and construction of a church building, Aspen Group dreamed of putting on an annual event for pastors, leaders, and other church members. Thus, the Alignment Conference was developed to offer a space of connection and like-mindedness, where attendees had a chance to dig deeper into Aspen Group’s mission, ask questions, and most importantly, broaden their community. But they needed an event marketing plan to execute it.

Having partnered with Keyhole Marketing for five years, Aspen Group enlisted various Keyhole services to put on its 2017 conference. We assisted with brand management, website development, social media and email marketing, speaker and sponsor communications, overall project management, and event photography — as well as overall execution.

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"Joe Dudeck's exceptional organizational skills and attention to details have served us well in hosting and marketing many live events, including our annual conference."
Marian Liautaud, Director of Marketing, Aspen Group

Getting the Right Details in Place

For an event with so many moving parts, it was crucial to outline the details from the very beginning. To that end, Keyhole Marketing was instrumental in creating a comprehensive, multi-month strategy and marketing plan — married to a calendar, with tasks, deadlines, and owners.

We initiated weekly (and sometimes bi-weekly) brainstorming and strategy meetings with Aspen Group staffers for the purposes of staying on track, delegating responsibilities, and realigning priorities.

The following list represents some of the major components involved in the overall event planning process:

  • Brand Management
  • Promotional Strategy + Execution
  • Content Creation + Implementation
  • Registration
  • Venue Coordination
  • Speaker Communications
  • Sponsorships
  • Online Registration
  • Tech Coordination
  • Guest Experience

Getting the Right Speakers on Stage

In the hopes of speaking to every attendee’s present place in ministry, Aspen Group collected a diverse group of speakers. Landing on the 2017 conference theme, “Launching Your Next Church,” four keynote sessions took place on the main stage throughout the day, along with a variety of  breakout sessions. The day concluded with a Q&A panel.

We acted as the key contact for all event speakers — handling per diems, managing topic submissions, requesting/editing guest blogs, and providing clear direction on event responsibilities.

The final list of event speakers included:

  • Dave Travis — CEO, Leadership Network
  • Jim Tomberlin — Founder, Multisite Solutions
  • Mark Jobe — Lead Pastor, New Life Community Church
  • Brooke Hempell — Senior VP of Research, Barna Group
  • Tom Elenbaas — Senior Pastor, Harbor Church
  • Steve Poe — Senior Pastor, Northview Church
  • Evan McBroom — Creative Director, Fishhook
  • Julie Bullock — Senior Generosity Strategist, Generis
  • Joe LaPaglia — President, Aspen VIP
  • Leah Norton — Director of Client Strategy & Partner, Fishhook
  • Lynn Pickard — Interior Designer, Aspen Group
  • Megan Bruinsma — Interior Designer, Aspen Group
  • Dana Byers — Executive Pastor, Mercy Road Church
  • Jason Pongratz — Multisite Campus Director, Northview Church

In addition to supervising communications with event speakers, we had the unique opportunity to book and manage Alanna Story, the special guest musicians that performed at the Alignment Conference. We worked with musicians Ally and Anna to coordinate their set, performance schedule, and all technology and sound system needs.

Getting the Right Message to the Right People

What’s a conference with no one to attend? Despite plans for a fabulous lineup of speakers, great food, and takeaway bags full of goodies, there’d be no point in months of planning with no registrations to show for it.

As mentioned above, we created a comprehensive content marketing plan designed to get the right message in front of the right people.

Website

We knew the first step in promoting the Alignment Conference would be to create and develop an informative and interactive event website for visitors to explore the event before registering.

Our WordPress site linked with HubSpot and included such conference-related items as a full agenda, speaker photos/bios, weekly blogs, online registration capabilities, and venue details. After development, we published new information throughout the promotional process and managed any technical issues.

Aspen Group - Event Marketing - Alignment Conference - Website

Blog Writing

As initial planning got underway, we encouraged Aspen Group to schedule a series of weekly blog topics aimed at addressing the issues or themes that would be discussed at the conference, often asking speakers or key players to contribute a blog of their own. These blogs were intended to generate reader interest and encourage them to sign up in order to learn more at the conference.

We worked directly with the authors to produce, edit, and publish the following 11 blogs/ podcast interviews over the course of several months:

  1. 4 Reasons Why Multisite is Moving Rural
  2. Is Your Church Ready for Multisite? An Aspen Podcast Featuring Jim Tomberlin
  3. Responding to Your Vision of Church Expansion
  4. Taking New Ground for the Kingdom: An Aspen Podcast Featuring Dave Travis
  5. A Message from Mark Jobe, Alignment Conference Main Session Speaker
  6. How to Respond to Your Church Planting Call: An Aspen Podcast Featuring Patrick O’Connell
  7. Why You Need a Church Communications Team
  8. How to Think Strategically (and Spiritually) About Church Expansion: An Aspen Podcast with Thrive Christian Church
  9. When a Hurricane is Heading Your Church’s Way
  10. 3 Key Reasons Why Churches Launch New Sites
  11. Launching Your Next Church: A Recap of Aspen’s 2017 Alignment Conference

Email Marketing

Having already decided that their ideal audience member would be pastors and other church leaders or staffers, we worked with Aspen Group to create an extensive email marketing plan that included various points of communication to the following groups:

  • Speakers
  • Sponsors/ vendors
  • Aspen’s newsletter list
  • Aspen’s blog list
  • Local pastors + church leaders
  • Current + former Aspen Group clients

By the end of the multi-month campaign, we were responsible for sending out 24 targeted graphic emails, (not including individual communications) designed to create event awareness, encourage recipients to register, and remind them what to expect the day of the event.

Below are a couple examples:

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Aspen Group - Event Marketing - Alignment Conference - 24

Landing Pages

We also wanted to offer prospective attendees a couple of Alignment-themed, free takeaways even before the conference began (and maybe also in an effort to entice them to register). To do so, we wrote and designed the following two HubSpot landing pages on Aspen’s website — including the development of automated workflows, setting ideal metrics and goals, and tracking the results for number of visits, clicks, and sign-ups along the way.

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Aspen Group - Event Marketing - Alignment Conference - 29

Conference Notebook

Finally, we also wrote all content, collected all sponsor advertisements, and managed Aspen Group’s graphic designer to create a 66-page conference notebook for attendees to utilize at the event.

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Getting the Right Photos

Aside from being on call to manage day-of technology or speaker-related troubleshooting issues, our primary responsibility was to capture event photography at the main stage and breakout sessions. This would later be utilized in promotional material, including followup email and blog recaps or for any future Alignment Conference needs.

Here’s a look at a few of our favorite images:

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