The times when you could pull off a successful conference by just gathering in the same room a speaker (good or bad), a bunch of chairs and some people are over. If it’s only about the content, you can now avoid going to an event by finding it on the web or reading the latest book of that topic. Especially for paid conferences (but applies to free events like BarCamps or book readings as well), you need to give something back to the attendees, a gift.
“[…] people don’t need advertising, it’s not an essential attribute of their lives. […] now [advertiers] have to give something back. You have to do something that’s at least useful, at least relevant or at least entertaining in order to get through. [for example ] if you create content that is interesting enough for people to want to spend time with it, then you should never need to buy media ever again ‘cos you just create the stuff and people come to it” “. Jessica Greenwood during PICNIC Festival ’09
…and then there’s the “holy shit” aspect that’s often difficult to categorize.
So what are you doing to transform your conference into something useful, relevant, entertaining and bearer of a holy shit moment? If you don’t do it, someone else will. Times have changed, innovate or… disappear in oblivion.
Watch the full presentation of Jessica Greenwood on branding & advertising during PICNIC Festival ’09 and think of the numerous ways of translating what she says into your own event world.