Are you treating your conference attendees like commodities?
Often conference organizers aim to make more revenue from their event. They are so focused on strategies and tactics to increase their profit that they risk damaging the one thing that makes them unique: their relationship with attendees.
Jeffrey Cufaude reminded me of the fragile yet critical relationship between a company and its customers in his blog post Beware Of Commoditizing Customers Or Members. Cufaude talks about a recent presentation by Brand Autopsy’s John Moore on The Bigness of Smallness. Some of Moore’s principles apply to conference planning.
Conferences need to market how their event:
- Improves lives
- Rights a wrong
- Makes good better
Rarely do conferences showcase how they are providing solutions for their customer’s biggest challenges. Rarely do they highlight how their education offerings help attendees increase productivity and sales. Rarely do they focus on how their experience can make attendees better and more successful. Rarely do they promote how attendance at their conference can help their business grow.
Why don’t they market those things? Because often their content does not help attendees at all. Frequently, the conference education experience is nothing more than a rehash of information found online.
Understanding Customer Problems To Create Effective Solutions
Savvy conference hosts empower all of their staff to discover untapped attendee opportunities and explore their attendees’ problems. The conference organizer works with their team to ensure that their attendees receive the best education sessions possible that offer guidance and solutions.
Understanding your conference attendees’ goals and objectives is critical to conference success. In order to make attendee success the core of the conference, the conference planning team has to understand what success means to the attendee.
The conference organizer and team needs to understand the attendees’ strategies, their goals and objectives. Then they need to sculpt the conference experience to ensure that their attendees meet those goals and move forward. This means that conference planning teams need to get out of their offices and develop and nurture relationships with loyal attendees.
It Takes Discipline To Focus On Attendee Needs
Conference organizers need to develop a process that:
- First, helps their team understand top target market attendee organizational strategies.
- Secondly, helps provide insights into those attendees’ needs and challenges.
- Third, searches for and identifies speakers and content that provide solutions that will help those attendees achieve their strategic goals.
- Finally, challenges the conference planning team to create conference experiences that provide real learning based on helping their attendees solve their problems. This means education experiences that are more than information dumps.
Ultimately, the conference planning team needs discipline. Discipline to follow the process and stick to it. Discipline to evaluate the results. And discipline to implement the proper coaching and feedback to team members and speakers as needed. The team needs the discipline to understand that they may not get immediate gratification from changing their process as it’s a long term process. They also need discipline to understand that just focusing on logistics and details does not create a conference experience that leads to attendee success! It takes discipline to look at the conference experience through their attendees’ eyes!
The ultimate goal of the conference host is to be seen an ally with their attendees in the pursuit of their success.
What barriers keep conference organizers and planning teams from truly understanding their top target market attendees’ needs? What does it take to transition conference organizers from focused strictly on logistics to focused on attendees’ needs?