Your conference attendees and prospects are less satisfied with an extensive list of education offerings than a narrow one.
Too much information overwhelms them. And they walk away without any action.
Ultimately, confused customers don’t buy anything.
The Paradox Of Choice
Yes, it’s true that when given a choice between a small and large assortment, customers state that they prefer a large variety. (Chernev,2003; Iyengar & Lepper, 2000).
Ironically, when they chose something from a large collection, they report less satisfaction than a choice from a limited group. (Mesner & Wanke, 2010)
Why the dissatisfaction? Information overload!
Your potential attendees are easily confused when facing rich and comprehensive information because it often exceeds their brain’s processing capacity. (Gao, 2010)
When your customers are faced with too much information, they inadvertently ignore relevant information. This unevenness of weighting information results in either no purchasing or poor purchasing choices.
Ultimately, too many choices becomes demotivating!
Mass Customization Results In Mass Confusion
Frequently, conference hosts say, “We have something for everyone!”
They think that if they offer as many education sessions as possible to as many different audiences as possible that they will win the race. But the research shows just the opposite is true. Offering too many sessions actually backfires!
Many conferences offer too many education sessions for their participants. Offer too many sessions and your prospect may decide not to even register because they are overwhelmed. Or offer too many education sessions in each time block and your paid registrants may decide that’s it’s easier to ignore all of them. Participants become overwhelmed with the large variety of options.
Even further, research has found that large assortments with similar or identical attributes have no advantage for consumers. If you are offering a large assortment of topics that are similar or that cover identical content in order to give more members the opportunity to speak, it is actually a disadvantage to your attendees. You’ve actually repelled them.
Paradoxically, offering a large assortment of topics that are varied increases the complexity of choices which quickly results in information overload. Your attempt at mass customization has resulted in mass confusion.
Time For An Education Session Focused Diet
What are the consequences of offering a large variety of education sessions that results in your customers’ information overload?
- A decreased interest in registration
- A increased delay in choosing anything which may result in no choice at all
- Poor choices, if any, by customers.
Instead of trying to offer a large variety of education options, your conference education should be highly curated to meet your target audience’s needs.
How do you do this?
- By identifying the top three target audience segments you want to grow
- Discovering their most pressing needs
- Providing active learning opportunities that meet those needs
- Concentrate on a limited number of quality active learning opportunities that scale
- Adopt a “Less Is More, Quality Not Quantity” conference mindset
How has the capitalistic mindset of more, more, more invaded our conference education programming? What skills do today’s meeting professionals need to create a focused conference education program?
You just reminded me this conference by a err… (I think he is a) teacher called Barry Schwartz. Here the Youtube link:
He gives more datails about this choice issues. It’s interesting.
Adrian Segar says
Jeff, I think this dilemma is an inevitable consequence of the common desire for organizations to make their conferences as large—and hence as general—as possible.
Small, carefully targeted events have a much easier time when selecting the right focused mix of session topics.