"Instead of [organizations] making attendees come to them, many groups are taking meetings and education opportunities directly to attendees... More and more are hitting the highway to bring their meetings and education programs—often in the form of roadshows—to cities and states where their members are."
—recent article in Associations Now
SIIA is not calling our year-long Digital Marketing Boot Camp a roadshow, but it certainly builds off that idea of bringing information and solutions to customers and members. After well-attended stops in Irvine, Calif., Chicago and Washington, D.C., it touches down in New York City on July 20. It will include speakers from Medidata Solutions, 451 Research, Micro Strategies, BuzzFile Media and SmartBrief, covering topics like marketing technology, audience data, content marketing and successful social. (And the $199 price is right!)
SIPA member Spidell Publishing also doesn't call their Federal and California Tax Update Seminar a roadshow. (In fact, that terminology may not fit most groups.) But if you look at Spidell's tremendous reach—about 47 California locales in just three months!—it certainly fits into the category.
The Tennessee Medical Association presented its TMA Summer Roadshow last month. Designed to help practice managers, healthcare administrators and other medical office staff better understand payment reform and reimbursement, it stopped in five cities. At each one, attendees received a full day of education and earned 5.5 continuing-education credits.
The Alabama State Bar Association has held the ASB Roadshow since 1995. Members of ASBA actually reach out to the association and schedule the roadshow to make a stop at their office. That's when you know you've got something good.
Here are more benefits to roadshows:
Bring in revenue that you might not get otherwise. Not everyone has the time or money to travel to your main events every year.
Serve as testing grounds or a place for informal focus groups. Try a new learning set-up or experiment with different speakers. Perhaps you'll come up with new webinar topics and engaging new speakers. By having panels—as the SIIA Boot Camp has—you're starting new speakers off in a smaller role. If they excel, give them a bigger role next time.
Offer continuing education credits.
Help you recruit new members/subscribers. There's nothing better than in-person recruitment.
Give you a chance to identify and reward some of your "super-users." These are people who can spread your gospel to other customers through social media or other meetings.
Fine-tune a lineup of speakers who will excel as they meet more of your customers. At SIIA's upcoming Boot Camp in New York, Mitch Eisen, CTO and co-founder of Real Magnet, will again present the session Marketing Automation the Right Way. "Follow the journey of the unknown customers who come to your site," Eisen preached in Chicago. "Research them and tailor marketing efforts specifically to them."
Test new formats. "We'll get an expert on a particular topic and just let people ask questions," said Benny DiCecca, the former CEO of Wellesley Information Services, who did very well with his roadshows. But he was also always quick to point out the planning and care that goes into them. "Our partners will pay for us to put on a free roadshow—just so people can ask questions and learn. It makes for incredibly good lead generation for them."
Make a big splash if you choose to do the roadshows within a week or two. New Zealand's Exercise Association Roadshow 2017 is taking place from June 12-21 in eight cities throughout the country. They even put together a 1:40-long video to promote the sessions.
Provide a great place for networking and sponsorships. SIIA's Boot Camp on July 20 includes a morning networking break, a networking lunch and a cocktail reception at the end. You can't ever underestimate the value of in-person networking.