Your conference audience is your most important asset.
Imagine your conference for a minute without an audience. Imagine exhibitors and sponsors showing up but no audience arrives. What happens?
Your conference needs an audience to survive. And you need a loyal audience if your conference is to grow and evolve. Your conference audience is the bedrock upon which your conference is built.
The Customer Has The Power
Audiences are not owned. It is the individual that decides whether or not to become a part of any audience.
You as the customer have all the power. Your attention, your action, and your loyalty have to be earned by those who want it. We like, follow and subscribe to brands, organizations and people any time we want. We usually do it when it brings us something of value, saves us money or provides timely content. We are in control. We decide which audiences to join, leave and ignore.
Most conference organizers ignore this fact. They operate under a false assumption that paid media, their advertising, provides all of the audiences needed to grow their conference. While that may have worked a couple of decades ago, it’s no longer true.
Creating a long-term, profitable audience for your conference is now part of your responsibility. If you refuse to do it, you will fall behind competitors with less dependency on advertising and more dedication to developing their loyal audiences.
Six Types Of Audiences
Author Jeffrey Rohrs identifies six types of audiences in his book Audience: Marketing In The Age Of Subscribers, Fans and Followers.
Not to be confused with the players of Quidditch in the Harry Potter series, seekers are consumers in pursuit of information or entertainment. They are looking for something to meet their needs, usually via mobile devices. Seekers include browsers, listeners, prospects, readers, viewers and visitors.
As a conference organizer, you gain and retain seeker’s attention by providing relevant content that meets their needs. They don’t become part of your seeker audience until their attention is focused on you. Seekers initiate contact with you. They browse and leave at their will. You are not usually able to initiate communications with seekers. And they only stay as long as you satisfy their needs.
Amplifiers seek internal gratification from sharing and spreading your message. They don’t just seek information. They are looking for information to help or inform their own personal networks. Amplifiers are audiences with audiences of their own.
As a conference organizer, an amplifier can raise the volume on your message. They can propel your content beyond your reach. They stay amplifiers only as long as it takes to share information to their audiences.
Joiners are the most valuable audience you can build for your conference. They pay for conference registration, work with your organization and say, “I want to hear from you.” They like, follow, pin, register and subscribe to your offerings. They selectively open the communication channels to your messaging.
4. VIP Joiners: Subscribers
Subscribers are consumers who provide something of value (contact information, money) to receive exclusive information delivered to the channel of their choosing. Subscribers want convenience.
5. VIP Joiners: Fans
The essence of fandom is emotion. Fans want to express their passion for something they enjoy. Fans are your loyal followers. Fans’ communications with other fans are just as important as your communications with them. Fans want to connect with like-minded individuals. They also derive some type of benefit from being your fan.
6. VIP Joiners: Followers
Followers are seeking curated information from you. They also want the social prestige that comes from sharing that information. They are usually the first to know. They don’t follow your organization just to follow. They follow to be followed.
How can you turn seekers and amplifiers into VIP Joiners? How can your conference acquire fans and followers?