To Believe Or Not To Believe Conference Copying: Three Big Ole Bear Traps To Avoid (Part 2)

Bear Trap

Why do we blindly copy another conference’s success?

Too often, we try to find fresh ideas from leading conference professionals.

Copying another person’s conference success is so much easier than investing the time to think it through for ourselves.

Hat tips to Carey Nieuwhof’s Leading Change Without Losing It: Five Strategies That Can Revolutionize How You Lead Change When Facing Opposition. I’ve adapted his thoughts on change, reinvention and and mimicking others success to conference planning and implementation.

Three Big Ole Bear Traps To Avoid

Here are three big, bad ole bear traps that you’ll walk right into if you boldy go where others have already been. And you copy them! Without doing more reflection first.

(Read Part 1 here. Look for two more bear traps in the next post.)

1. You don’t really have a handle on conference business models.

Business model? You mean my conference has a business model?

Imagine a meeting planner saying,

I’ll stop you right there because all I want to do is deal with details. I don’t even like people. I prefer to manage stuff that I can control.

Let someone else deal with our conference business model.

So how far will that get you?

So you copy, paste and mix conference concepts (and models) from several different events. And the combined end result smells and tastes terrible.

Few of us really understand conference business models. Those three words seem incompatible with each other. They mean different things.

Solution: So first, start by becoming a student of conference business models!

While many conferences appear to be the same on the outside, the successful ones approach their customers’ event experience very differently. Target markets for the education and networking design vary greatly. Linkage to industry support revenue is often critical to a conference business model. Look for, and understand, those differences.

If not, you’ll end up implementing a fake copy of what you thought was right.

You can’t effectively adopt what you don’t understand.

2. You’ll create an incompatible hybrid that belongs in a Goosebumps novel.

Mixing different models creates a hybrid Frankenstein event experience. It doesn’t look, feel, smell or work right.

Each successful conference that you are observing is actually a product of years of development, trial and error, and fine-tuning. The successful conferences have threaded experiences that are best when experienced in succession.

If you strip part of one model, steal from a second, randomly copy something from a third and then mix them together to create your own effective event, you are headed for a certain failure.

There’s a high probability that the items you’ve copied don’t work well together.

Consider trying to fix your Ford Truck with parts from a Smart Car. They are both vehicles. And they are not the same.

Solution: first, truly understand your conference model, your segmented target audience and your systems. Then you can adapt parts from other events.

3. You won’t own the new parts.

This one is really important!

It’s so easy to attend a few conferences, skim blogs, read meetings-related articles, participate in an event webinar, and follow conference leaders all in the name of finding fresh ideas.

Your challenge is two-fold.

First, the ideas you’re borrowing were hard-fought concepts birthed through much thinking, reflection, tweaking and development. Often, those conference organizers spent months and years with those ideas until they owned them.

Second, you clearly have not owned that fresh idea at the same level. You’re trying to take a short-cut and borrow someone else’s success. Until you own it, it will probably not be as effective as it was for them.

And when we copy other’s ideas, we really don’t know why they work. So when others question our fresh idea, we probably can’t respond appropriately.

“It worked for them,” is not a convincing argument.

Solution: If you’re going to borrow another conference’s successful experience, study it thoroughly. Consider all the outcomes so that you can own the various paths it might take.

Which of these three traps have you personally experienced and how did you overcome them? What do you need in order to own a new concept or idea for your conferences?

Read part three to this three-part series.

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