Make Your Conference Irresistible!

Word Camp Dallas
This post is by Dave Lutz.

One of the sessions that I looked forward to the most at Event Camp Chicago 2011 was from Liz Strauss.

Liz is a deep thinker. And she did not disappoint!

I had to go back and watch the recording to get my head around how to best apply her message.

Here are four takeaways from her presentation that can be applied to value based conferences.

1. Be irresistible! Weed out the people that don’t truly love what you do.

Apply this by flipping your conference messaging. Instead of thinking of the top 10 reasons to attend, list the reasons that people shouldn’t.

For example, try:

  • Don’t come if you’re already spending plenty of time working ON your business instead of IN it.
  • Don’t come if you’re interested more in CME’s than you are improving patient care.
  • Don’t come if you don’t want to participate and help others solve their business problems.
  • Don’t come if you’re up to speed on the latest industry innovations and technology solutions.
  • Don’t come if you’re more interested in selling to our participants than you are helping them.
  • Don’t come if you’re not passionate about our industry.

Many conference organizers play the numbers game and try to be all things to all people.

Irresistible conferences stand out from the crowd.

Irresistible conferences have a loyal following of people that truly love what they do.

Irresistible conferences can experiment and fail. And their loyal followers will still sing their praises even in failure. They’ll credit them for trying something new.

Liz say’s “If the customer loves you, you can blow up the building and they’ll say that’s OK, accidents happen.”

Irresistible conferences have participants that create a Velvet Community or a Velvet Conference. (I like that analogy!) Velvet Conferences are irresistible because they deliver high value with silky-smooth experiences. They are rewarded through repeat attendance and word of mouth.

2. Solutions are the new location.

Conference participants are searching for answers. Sometimes they know what they’re searching for. Other times they don’t.

Velvet Communities and Conferences connect participants to solutions. Conference organizers don’t always have the answers. Sometimes they point to those in the community that do.

Irresistible conferences mine solutions by leveraging the wisdom of a passionate crowd.

3. Most pitches fail because they come too early in the relationship.

Wow, there’s truth in that statement. Wouldn’t you agree?

Trust and relationships are so critical to getting the order. Face-to-face encounters accelerate the relationship building. They make the cash come faster.

Instead of the old school thinking of always be closing, successful closers are there well before the sale. They invest time before the sales opportunity is ever created.

4. Enough about me, let’s talk about you.

If you survey your attendees or members, consider the following when designing your questions.

  • Lose the words our and my.
  • Instead use verbiage like, “What would you recommend?”

Get to the “you” fast!

Bonus Takeaway – I’m an easy target!

Liz propositioned me during her presentation to make a point. You can’t see me turn red as an apple but you can hear the crowd bust out in laughter.

It all went down at about the 27:50 minute mark. Liz did a good job of scouting the audience to find a good person to play along. Nice! You’ll have to watch the video to see how it applied to Irresistible Conferences.

If you participated in Event Camp or watched the archive, what takeaways did you have from Liz’s session? How can you make your events stand out and become irresistible?

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  1. I love the idea of identifying who shouldn’t attend a conference. It’s funny and unique. The reasons could be really halarious too ( depending on the audience) like Do not Attend If…. You have an incureable infectious disease, you prefer to eat bland boring food, or you were driving too fast and you hit a purple cow and broke both your legs.

    Also The best conferences i have attended are the custom ones, where the program is geared entirely around one theme

  2. Dave Lutz says:

    ‘@Jody, I really think there is something more to this idea than most folks will realize from an initial read. Nearly every conference that crosses my desk has the same spin…great networking, education, location, etc. as the benefits. I like the idea of using reverse psychology to stand out and to set the right expectation.

    Like you recommend, a bit of humor sprinkled in would help too. Love your recommendation about having a custom conference around one theme too! That works well for designing a single track also.

  3. Jody urquhart says:

    I agree Dave …. Most conferences have the same thing… Networking, education, food…. It’s all the same. Anything to shake it up a bit is memorable. One conference I was at had a 70’s theme …. It wasnt just a theme night but the whole conference from the sessions…. They asked speakers to dress 70’s too….

  4. Tahira says:

    I thought Liz had anawesome presentation and a great message. SOBCON seems anazing examole of bringing this to be. As does Event Camp. The world of conferences and the people who attend them have much to gain from the irresistable so let’s work on this!

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