February 23, 2018

Let Me Take You There ...

For all of us that attend conferences, business events, trade shows or annual meetings, we know the drill. If it’s a trade show, it’s miles of aisles. If it’s an annual meeting, a sage on the stage, and lots of classrooms, receptions, checking our emails, and looking for people we know with whom we can connect and, hopefully, pick up a few insights and have a conversation or two that makes it all worth it.Compare this to other environments: travel, retail, concerts, worship services, a spa, the gym. Consider how differently you feel about, think about and behave in these other settings. You look forward to them, enjoy being there, find comfort, peace, energy and renewal, and just plain feel better as a result of the experience.So why not think about designing business events in the way that non-business events are designed? How different would your next conference and trade show be if Disney, Apple or Starbucks designed it? Do you think there would be energy, excitement, anticipation, joy, wonder and a deep sense of place, community and purpose?Disney is really like one big trade show for consumers with lot of rides and attractions to enjoy in between shopping and eating. Why do so many of us just hang out in Starbucks? Just to “be.” Why doesn’t your organization have a Genius Bar for your guests to get answers to their questions when they are at your event?Here are three things you can do to get started.1. Think like a travel agent. Imagine that you will design, promote and deliver an experience that you can sell, like a trip to the mountains, the beach or an island. Does your destination make your audience want to sign up based on a desire to escape to a new place, to learn, connect and renew their professional passion?2. Have you ever wondered why most events do exactly the opposite of what retailers do when it comes to pricing? Event planners discount the product at the beginning and increase the price as the event date gets closer. Would you want to buy a new outfit at the beginning of the season at marked-down prices? We buy full price because we love the product and are afraid it will be sold out later. The reason most events discount early is that they have nothing to sell: no wow factor, no sense of exclusivity or scarcity. So, figure out what will motivate your audience to pay full price at the outset, and launch your event with your best features and benefits on day one, not a month before the event is scheduled to go live.3. Designate an event author. Have the author be a real person, someone your audience relates to, a voice that is trusted, respected and gets it. Have the author write to one person, not a mass, generic or homogenous audience. A good author will write in such a way that they will take their reader “there”... to that place where discovery, renewal, inspiration and real learning will happen.Let me take you there ... an idea that presupposes there is a place that is aspirational, a place you want to be, a place that will open your mind, liberate your thinking, and make you think and feel differently – a place where you are in the company of others who care about many of the same things as you.Who will be the author of your organization’s next event? Will you be able to charge full price at the start of the event, and can you unlock your inner travel agent and sell a destination that is equally irresistible and indispensable?Want to talk about some of these ideas in person? I’ll be leading a discussion Friday, March 2, at ASAE’s headquarters in Washington, DC. Full details here.

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