When talking about a conference, past or present, one of the first questions asked is the number of attendees involved. It seems that an event for 3.000 people is better than one for 30. Apart from events that live through selling tickets, in which the amount of units sold is one of the main metrics to judge its success, the quality of the relationships created is the most influential characteristic on the long term.
Imagine the Davos World Economic Forum with 10.000 people… no effective discussions could take place. When you participate to a conference what do you value most, to meet a lot of prospects that never become clients/partners/providers/etc or few ones that boost your business?
Gianluca Diegoli, an Italian marketer that has created the famous blog of “minimalistc marketing” [mini]marketing (in Italian), presents a similar point of view in his popular e-book “[mini]marketing – 91 arguable thesis for a different marketing” (title in Italian: “[mini]marketing – 91 discutibili tesi per un marketing diverso“). The book presents 91 marketing concepts derived from Diegoli’s own experience. For now it is only in Italian but it should be translated to English soon.
I noticed with interest the following one:
If you organize an event, the number of participants is no longer a fundamental issue: consider instead the quality of the conversation created by the event.
Consider organizers of recurrent events who need to sell tickets to generate profit: a low quality event today will mean no business in the future. The balance between quantity and quality is the key issue that the conference planner has to have in mind while executing a project.
Think of all the relationships that could take place and which ones are best for you and for the participants: “conversations” between speakers-audience, company-audience, company-speakers and audience-audience (networking). Cashing on entrance tickets is only good for you but is your audience happy with the product/service you delivered? Are they willing to repeat it or talk about it to their friends and colleagues? Word of mouth and viral dynamics cannot be invented. They arise from a real value, one that you have to offer with humility. Being present in the “right” social networks or sending out press releases will never fill the gap. It is not (only) journalists that have to say how good you are but the people participating to your conference.
Establish a sincere and direct relationship with the audience. Even if you want big numbers, be sure to take actions that will make attendees still feel like individuals and not a herd. Don’t just tell them that you care for them and their interests too, but demonstrate it! Sometimes it is just small and meaningful details that are important to the people involved. (I wrote about the special effects that make a difference here). Identify and execute them. Give and you will receive back.