Friday, June 29, 2012

Event attendance - relationship or transaction?

Engaged learners at #ECV11
Reality check: event attendance is not a decision made as a simple transaction. A potential attendee does not consider attending an event the same way they consider buying a coffee, or even purchasing a product online.

The decision to attend an event is much more complex. As a potential attendee you need to consider the resources, time, money, travel distance and potential return. You will choose to attend because you see value in attending. Where does this value come from?

As event planners you know it comes back to education and networking. The primary consideration is actually emotional. It is the relationships you have the potential to build while you are there.  How do you sell attendance to your boss though? With rational clarification about the knowledge you will gain by attending, which is where we come back to "content is king" and where the participant driven knowledge model becomes a tougher sell, even if you may leave a conference with a participant driven agenda richer for the deepened relationships and deep-dive education you may achieve, it is still hard to take a blank agenda to your boss and sell your participation. The transaction is tougher to make.

How can you build relationships with your potential attendees? One excellent way pre-event is with effective social media, the kind where you begin conversations that can be continued when you meet face - to - face. Where potential attendees encourage each other to attend because they are excited to share ideas f2f, and where your sessions are stronger because there are more people willing to share ideas, knowledge and resources with each other.  Where connecting for future potential business is a natural extension of your event - the attendance is about the relationships, and people will not only return, they will give you the word of mouth marketing you cannot create without them.

What are you doing to use your meetings as leverage that enhances connections?

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