As professionals look for conference opportunities, one of the key questions they ask is, what can they do to maximize the value of attending? It’s the job of the conference organizer to clearly answer that question.
How long a conference has been around and who is hosting it holds some value, but there must be real value from attending. Here is a look at three important areas.
Content. Content. Content. And immediate access to it.
When researching conferences, your prospective attendees are seeking opportunities they cannot find anywhere else. The most successful conferences provide high quality speakers, unique trainings or information that is only available through the conference, ideal networking opportunities and more. However, the value isn’t only from the unique content. Conference attendees also look at what kind of access they will have to the speakers and other content.
Here’s a closer look.
One of the biggest draws to a conference is the keynote presenter. In addition to the presentation, consider the supplemental material and how quickly attendees can access it. We live in the digital age of immediate access. Your attendees should be able to download that presentation they’ve just watched from the conference microsite within a short period of time following the presentation. The old days of providing access to materials after the conference, or even within 48 hours, just isn’t acceptable any longer.
When you offer immediate access to supplemental materials, you also open up a world of possibilities to add even more value for your attendees. Compliment the lineup of high quality speakers with Discussion Forums or Q&A sessions with presenters giving attendees the chance to ask questions about the important information they have just received. This level of conference experience gives your marketing team a lot to brag about.
Does your content help attendees produce immediate results? If you want to add true value to your conference attendees, give them tools and tactics they can implement immediately.
If you want to know what kind of networking opportunities will be the most meaningful, ask your attendees and then form a team to brainstorm how to make it happen. Because, let’s face it, it’s virtually impossible to truly network in a large crowd setting. Big events put too many people into the room, and the most sought-after guests will really have a terrible time. However, if we look at the true design of today’s networking, it means putting people together who can help each other.
The most meaningful networking happens on a level playing field.
To add value to conference networking, consider taking it online. Host online networking sessions where anyone participating in the conference can share anonymously about a pending business need. Whether they share in a detailed abstract or just a few sentences is up to them and will depend on the need. Allow attendees to submit solutions or proposals to address the need. This idea is similar to the kind of interaction you find in a traditional exhibit hall, however, the anonymity of this kind of networking removes any preconceived notions and levels the playing field for vendors.
If people don’t know about the conference, they won’t come. For greatest success, build the audience months, even years in advance. Developing a product for a market is much more relevant than trying to find a market for a product. When you focus on the audience first and design a conference that will meet their needs, you’ll find success easier.
We recently shared a quick reference guide to marketing a conference. Turn to this guide when building your marketing and promotions campaign.