We are thinking about conference innovation from the wrong perspective.
We usually think about conference innovation as something we create for our paying attendees. Or we think about innovation as something we design with attendees through crowdsourcing.
We need to make a critical leap. Conference innovation is a way to design attendees!
Innovation should be treated as a medium and method for (re)desigining customer. ~ HBR author Michael Schrage.
Evolving Your Conference Customer
Instead of talking about designing new conference experiences, programming, technologies and strategies through innovation, we should be talking about how to design new conference customers and attendee segments.
Evolving our current conference customers should be as important, if not more important, than improving the attendee experience.
Designing tomorrow’s best conference customer is not the same thing as designing today’s conference customer. Nor is it the same thing as designing tomorrow’s best conference experience.
You want to raise the level of discussion with your conference planning team. Instead of debating about innovative conference experiences, deliberate about how your innovations can influence your conference market segment evolution over the next two or three years.
The driving force behind your evolving your conference customer is your vision of that customer. Who- and what- will your paying conference attendees become?
Ongoing conference innovations should guarantee that tomorrow’s conference customers will be different from today’s!
Conference Innovation Is An Investment In Our Registrants
We need to see our (conference) innovation as an investment in human capital, says Schrange. It is an investment in our paying attendees’ capabilities and competencies.
Your conference’s future depends on your conference customers’ future.
Your most important conference asset is your paying registrant. How you invest in your conference customers, how you treat your conference customers and how you raise their skill level is critical to your success.
We need to be asking, “What do we want our conference customers to become?
Why do we turn to our customers to identify new innovative strategies? How is designing conference programming for who you want your customers to become different than designing conference programming based on customer wants and needs?