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.
"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."
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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:
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.
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.
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: