People’s behaviors, needs and preferences online reflect their offline actions.
Understanding some of their online human activity can help conference organizers understand and connect with their onsite conference attendees.
Ultimately, securing the right kind of conference content is exactly what your attendees seek.
In Spring 2011, About. com partnered with Latitude to examine Americans’ online search behavior. Their research overwhelming revealed “three mindsets of search.”
About.com says that “Understanding how human behavior affects patterns in search behaviors can help marketers understand and connect with the people that use their products.”
Three Conference Mindsets
I think that About.com’s research has tremendous application when planning today’s conference content.
1. Answer Me – 46%
Attendees in the “answer me” mode want their immediate problems solved quickly. They come to your conference looking for relevant solutions to the dilemmas they face. They want those takeaway solutions delivered in a way that they can get to directly and without having to wade through a lot of tedious, boring information. They have a “give me what I want, nothing more, nothing less” attitude.
The “answer me” mode aligns with adult learning practices that adults are problem-driven, not content-driven. This is why learning objectives for conference session descriptions are important. They help attendees decide if the presentation will answer their immediate questions.
2. Inspire Me – 28%
Attendees in the “inspire me” mode want to be surprised, motivated and encouraged. They are there to be led and browse conference topics at leisure. They have an “excite and inspire me about the things I love and I have an open mind and am ready to be led” attitude.
Conference organizers can align with “inspire me” mode by securing content that inspires creativity and offers endless choices. These are the folks that say “Too many ideas are never enough.” As long as the conference content excites their imagination, they will be there.
3. Educate Me – 26%
Attendees in the “educate me” mode want a 360-degree understanding of a critical pressing issue. They also want multiple perspectives on those urgent topics. They will continue looking for this information until they feel their goal is achieved. Often, their research continues over extended periods of time. They have a “help me understand the things that matter most and don’t spare any details” attitude.
The “educate me” mode is only about one-fourth of your conference audience. Consider longer extended education sessions allowing attendees to gain depth into a specific topic. Remember that adults are still problem-centric and the attendee’s research into this topic is driven by problems back in the office.
The research showed that gender and age did not affect these mindsets. However, the higher the income, the more likely the person was to engage in the “Answer Me” mindset. For conference organizers, the higher the income of your attendee, the more likely they are coming to your event with specific problems that need solved.
Which mindset describes you and why? What implications do these mindsets have on your conference planning?