What is your vision for your conference customer?
In case you are confused by the term conference customer, I mean your paying attendee or registrant. What is your vision for your conference customer, the paying attendee?
How do you hope to help your paying attendee to grow, evolve or transform? What traits and characteristics do you desire to create in your customers through your conference experience?
Those are some tough questions we need to consider. Many conference organizers have never even thought about a vision for their conference customer. Much less what they want their conference customer to become. Often, we are still stuck trying to create a vision or mission of our conference!
You Need A Conference Customer Vision Statement
Your conference needs a customer vision statement.
Most organizations have a corporate vision statement that focuses on its grand ambitions. Those vision statements usually acknowledge customers but seldom state how they wish to transform their customers.
A customer vision statement is fundamentally different than the corporate vision statement. It explicitly identifies the qualities and attributes that you aspire to create in your customers says HBR author Michael Schrage.
Conferences and meetings have the power to change lives. They should and can be transformational. Our conferences need a customer vision statement of how our event can transform our customers and help them progress and evolve. We need to imagine, express and communicate who and what our conference customers should become.
The New Plumb Line For Designing Conference Programming
Before you start planning your conference programming for your attendees…
Before you go to your volunteer conference committee to select topics, tracks and speakers…
Before you release a call for speaker and presentation proposals…
Before you distribute a customer needs survey asking potential attendees what topics they want to hear or what their pressing needs are…
You have to create a conference customer vision statement. You have to convey and express what you want your conference customers to become. You have to define the attributes you hope to evolve in your conference customers.
Once you’ve done that, then you should identify two or three of the most compelling characteristics of your conference customer vision. Consider how those traits, values, expectations, perceptions or behaviors transform your customers says Schrage. How do your conference innovations enable your customers—or target market segments—to achieve this?
Then you start to align the customer vision statement with the conference attendee experience. Before you get to topics and logistics, you think about what type of attendee experience you’re creating. And, consider what are you asking your attendees to do, specifically at the conference?
Avoid Improving The Conference Experience Trap
Trying to create a better conference user experience is solving the wrong design problems. Asking how to integrate innovations into the attendee experience doesn’t go far enough.
Instead, to paraphrase Schrage and apply his insights to conferences we should ask:
1. What kind of customers does our conference experience try to create? Why?
2. How will making our attendee experiences more innovative make our attendees more valuable to their work and more valuable to us?
Then you target your conference attendee investments in creating your customers future value! That’s where the real win is!
What would happen to your conference planning if you started by creating a conference paying attendee vision statement? How does asking what you want your conference attendees to do at the conference, that aligns with the customer vision statement, change your conference planning process?