Last year alone, our company produced or co-produced more than 50 events, and over 250 since the business was founded just five years go. Before making the entrepreneurial jump, I had the daunting task and delight of producing events that included two U.S. Presidents (at separate times) and Fortune-100 CEOs as keynotes.
The point is, I’ve learned that no matter the type, the fundamentals of producing a kick-butt event that audiences are willing to travel and pay good money for are the same. I call these fundamentals the “wow factors.” Here they are in order of importance:
- Venue. If you have a hot spot that is both out of reach for most, or it’s new in town and most haven’t seen, or perhaps it’s too expensive for your audience to attend (through connections you can get these venues), then your would-be attendees have the added incentive of curiosity and are more likely to participate. Plus a cool hip venue says you’re in the know.
- The Right Content. Let’s face it, content is king. But the right content makes YOU the king (or queen depending on who you are). Understanding your audience and giving them what they want, and then surpassing that want is where it’s at. Simply “teaching” your audience marketing or social media is not enough. First, you have to learn their wants and needs, juxtapose it against their level of knowledge, and then you wow them with the right approach to the information. The goal here is to create an event where attendees feel like the content and presenter(s) are speaking to them, about them, and in their own intellectual language. If the event is not knowledge-based, but instead a festival, fashion, or equivalent, ask yourself, is this the right content for my audience, and more importantly, does this provide the best bang for their dollar and time?
- Super Star. Every audience has a unique super star. I define a super star by their name recognition, ability to draw media, and ability to sell out a venue. If they don’t meet all three, they may be famous or sell tickets, but they’re not a “super star,” yet. In a later post I’ll share how to score a super star.
Here’s how it works: if you’re a young technology nerd like me (okay, not that young), you’re probably drawn by gurus at companies like Twitter, or the co-founders at Google. By contrast, if you’re into politics or macro economics, getting in front of Tim Geithner is probably a big deal (if you don’t know who he is, you’ve proved my point). If you’re in the entertainment world, knowing the CEO of a major network is speaking will likely compel you to buy a ticket. If you’re a Latina business owner, hearing from Maria Shriver or a female Fortune-500 CEO is huge. Remember, this isn’t about attracting your usual attendees; this is about creating a wow event that gets someone to buy a plane ticket, travel across the country and into your event.
Like legs on a stool, the wow factors make your event solid and help it stand out. If you get a super star you can reliably assume their content is well established (or why else would they be a super star). And with a super star, the venue doesn’t matter as much. They attract audiences (and media) no matter when and where they go.
If you don’t score a super star, then focus on great content and complement it with your venue. Of course, I hope it’s clear that you must first understand your target audience (conduct surveys and ask who they think is a super star using the criteria mentioned above).
Finally, if you manage to pull off all three factors for one event, you’ve just reached event nirvana and both sponsors and attendees will come asking you for access.
PS – We’re launching a calendar of events where you, the event producers, can post your events for free (only professional development events, please) and get an extra promotional and attendee boost. Bookmark http://www.conex360.com, the calendar is now live but you might find a bug or two. Please use it and let’s grow together.