You have a great concept – you have great speakers – you have great sponsors. You have buy-in and strategic advice from worldclass thought and business leaders. So why did nobody turn up for your conference?
By now, you have been discussing internally whether you should charge a fee and how much. You have wrung your brain about how you can guarantee the sponsors that the audience is who they are targeting. And because you can’t share the delegate data, you really need people to be there.
Maybe you need help?
Marketing and strategic planning are there for a reason. They pave the way for your success, be it a campaign, a product launch, or an event. So make sure to get your marketing teams involved before you even set a date.
Here are my three keys to successful events:
- Content (hey, you’ve got that covered)
Naturally, there’s more to it but if you don’t have those three Cs under control, you may just end up with a room that may be full, but not with the people you really wanted to share this experience with.
Over the years, I have seen many examples of fabulous conference who never reached the intended audience, because there was no consistency in how the event was promoted, and there was no strategy in the communication to the intended audience. So in panic mode, just to fill the room, organizers at the last minute started forfeiting fees and/or asking friends and relatives to show up to fill some chairs.
What organizers sometimes forget is that it’s not the size that matters. Bigger is not better, if the addition is irrelevant. On a side note, conference guests actually sit more comfortably and breathe a lot easier if the room is not cramped. If you host a dinner party at home, you make sure your guests are comfortable and are able to move. So half empty is not half bad.
Use your marketing and communication experts to remain consistent, persistent and agile. Select your theme and make it relevant and timely. Partly, it’s something you can buy. Tools such as email marketing automation can help you build an engagement ladder that starts with alerting your audience to what is coming, and continues to add teasers and more content to finally compel them to not just sign up – but to be there on the day.
Next time you plan a conference, make sure to plan with the end in mind:
On the day you want a room with an audience that is pleased with what they came for and therefore open to engage with you and your speakers and sponsors.
Because that is the real ROI of your event.