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ASCEND: An Out of this World Event

Every event organizer is trying to find new ways to design a digital event that stands out from the crowd, keeps the audience engaged and draws a new audience...while still retaining loyal members.

Just a few short months ago, the first ever space conference designed to attract both die-hard NASA engineers, rocket scientists and loyal members of the country’s premier space institute, AIAA (American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics), and a deliver an entirely new audience, did just that.

This brand new event, launched virtually in November of 2020, delivered on the needs of its most ardent scientific community AND even more importantly, it attracted 64% of its audience from outside of its membership.

That’s not a typo...64% of the audience that registered and attended were not members of AIAA. This is an unprecedented accomplishment that provides so many opportunities for AIAA to build upon, and a great many lessons you can apply to your next digital or omnichannel (hybrid) event.

This new audience resulted in AIAA exceeding their attendee target by 150%.

These new attendees included young engineers, venture capitalists, business executives, entrepreneurs, real estate developers, lawyers, professors and leaders from across the business, academic and scientific spectrum. This event was designed, branded, programmed and marketed to attract individuals from the entire aerospace ecosystem - and it succeeded.

How did they do it? Here are the top 5 drivers of their success.

  1. Audience research that led to clearly identified cohorts with specific motivations and strategic insights into how to attract them based on a highly accurate array of targetable characteristics.
  2. Programming and content were developed for each of the top audience cohorts and designed to attract exactly the individuals AIAA sought to invite to this event.
  3. Made-for-TV interviews, content cadence, narration, hot-topics and event direction all held together by a compelling event host. This event was more Hollywood than a “convention center scientific space conference.”
  4. An amazing new brand, ASCEND, and a killer marketing campaign that broke most of the rules of event promotion. Guerrilla marketing at another space event, live brand activations, press conferences introducing provocative new topics, and a dominant social media presence. Many of these marketing programs happened pre-March 2020. It’s never too early to start promoting your event.
  5. A Guiding Coalition of thought-leaders, experts, renowned space pioneers, astronauts and business executives who helped steer this new, inaugural event through the political and bureaucratic waters every non-profit society and association must address. This team of leaders helped get media coverage of ASCEND in Wired, Forbes, Tech Crunch, NPR and GeekWire in addition to all of the traditional space media outlets.

As the agency that AIAA hired to lead the research, design, branding, curriculum development, and marketing that helped AIAA accomplish these amazing results, 360 Live Media congratulates the ASCEND team. We continue to work with them on new ways to achieve these kinds of results across their entire event portfolio.

For more details on this amazing event, and to learn more about how your organization can achieve results like these, download the ASCEND case study here.

Don Neal
Founder & CEO

360 Live Media

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