It takes more than a shiny brochure to sell seats at a conference these days. With education and travel budgets being scrutinized for cost cutting opportunities, business leaders are attending only the most compelling conferences. Demand will always be high for distinguishable content, and understanding the needs of your industry is the first step towards leveraging this power. Matching client needs with exclusive content is what separates a must-see event from just another conference.
Here are some ideas for assembling a conference lineup that sells tickets…
Marketing firms jump on trends all the time in an attempt to steal existing momentum for their own products. Sponsorships with the Olympic Games are a perfect example of this method. The same technique can be used for creating a marketable conference itinerary. What are the most discussed topics in your industry this year? Search through LinkedIn and Facebook to find out what subjects people are most interested in. Now think of how your conference can provide exclusive insight into these trending issues.
Who will be presenting your content can be even more important than the topic itself. Anyone can hold a discussion about important issues, but only a selective few are considered experts in their field. Conference attendees want to connect with news makers to get inside information on what the future holds. The money spent to bring in a professional to discuss a hot topic should pay for itself by way of increased registrations. People will always travel to see the best, just like they do to see their favorite bands in concert.
Learn from Other Conferences
A rarely practiced but effective technique for evaluating conference ideas is to network with other conference organizers. Take a look back at your industry calendar and identify events that were similar to yours. Don’t be afraid to call the planners to ask how their sessions were received. As long as you are not competition for the same date, there is no reason not to take advantage of this historical data. The benefit of working together far outweighs the risks, and in many cases you can help each other by cross-promoting to your prospects.
Interview Your Speakers
Help potential registrants visualize themselves at your conference by posting speaker interviews on your website. The best way to sell the value of your sessions is to give your customers an inside look at exactly what they can expect to learn. Video interviews work especially well for this, and you can post them on YouTube for even more exposure. Have your speaker discuss their experience in the industry, and provide a quick overview on what they will be covering during their session.
Evaluate Your Date
While the date of your event may not seem like a content issue, it will be one of the first things your prospects consider when making the decision to attend. Try to choose dates based on your attendees availability first, and then work with your speakers. Obviously you want to avoid competing with other industry events, but you also need to plan around school holidays and vacation times. Keep in mind that the larger the conference, the further in advance you will need to announce it. Some convention calendars list functions up to five years out, but 18 months is adequate if you have inside access to your target market.
Gone are the days when lavish hotels and exotic locations were the primary interests for conference goers. Now companies expect their employees to return from education events with new ideas and contacts that will impact revenue growth. In many ways, this expectation opens new opportunities for event organizers to attract attendees. By offering authoritative content that builds off existing demand, your conference will have the ability to sell itself.