Seth Godin And A Non-Hybrid Event Worth Attending

May 7, 2012

in Events, Experience, Marketing

Marketing Guru Seth Godin is running a special event called Pick Yourself on May 16th in New York and he promises it has been especially conceived as a valuable in-presence gathering, with no digital distractions during the event nor live streaming, as the experienced has been conceived to work at its best physically, offline.


“It won’t be webcast or recorded, as we’ve tried to create something that works best precisely because it’s live–not just as a result of what I’m saying on stage, but due to the people you meet and sit next to and connect with over your challenges and projects and dreams.”
“Digital scales, of course, because it spreads effortlessly and without cost. Real life, alas, doesn’t work that way. What we’ve tried to do is create an event that’s better precisely because you came, because you’re in the room, because someone on a similar journey is sitting next to you. A beautiful big theatre filled with intimate one on one connections.”

Forget Hybrid. Use Digital Before & After

Focusing on providing a valuable live — physical — event experience does not mean that you refuse the digital realm, rather that you use it when it’s most appropriate (for the attendee’s experience, to achieve the goals of the event, etc). In fact Godin offers the participants access to triiibes, an “exclusive online community”.

“If you’re interested in coming, please read all the details and be sure to get your confirmation after you’ve registered in order to join the exclusive online community we’re building for attendees.”

The buzzwords “hybrid events” are quite popular in the event industry these days but it mostly consists of polluting an event with digitally supported tools that often are more of a source of distraction than a way to take the event to a higher level. True, by encouraging the attendees to, say, tweet or follow the presentations through live-streaming,  the organizer can reach a larger audience and create buzz around the event. Often this is all about getting to a larger market while diluting the value for those present, by not providing them with your [the organizer’s] full attention.

Better Together

An interesting thing is that group tickets are way cheaper than single registrations,  encouraging people to come with someone. (the single ticket costs 950 USD while the “six pack” is just 1,800 USD, 300 USD/participant). Seth Godin thinks that this provides the advantage that groups made before the event ensures that people are more open to sharing during the event and can act as stimulus for action after it.

“Assembling a group of six (friends, colleagues or strangers) makes it even more likely that you’ll come to the event ready to share and scheme and plan, taking action after it’s over.”

“Early bird and group tickets are significantly less expensive than regular ticketswill be in a week, so if you’re interested, I hope you’ll grab it now.”

  • William Thomson

    Gianfranco, thanks for the article. It’s very interesting and I love Seth’s approach. It’s easy to add any element to an event simply because other events are doing it. It’s also easy to think that because it’s new delegates will demand it and it will add value. Well, that’s not always true.

    I am sure there is a place for the hybrid approach as well as streaming and live recording where they will add real value. I belive it’s down to good meeting design to ensure that we only add elements (we could cover a lot more than hybrid and Social Media delegate engagement here) that add value to our events.

    Here’s a link of a review of Event Camp Europen which was an early ‘Hybrid’:

    • Gianfranco Chicco

      Thanks for commenting William. I do believe that a “hybrid” solution that adds value is possible but I’m kind of tired of the over-use of the term and of so many organizers that try to revamp a mediocre experience as if the “hybrid” status were the be-all and the end-all solution… without focusing on analyzing what could add value to their specific audience and what how.

      What I like from Seth’s approach is that he clearly identifies what is valuable for his audience (related to the themes that will be discussed and the experience he wants to offer) and acts to enhance that, eliminating fancy distractions. 😉

  • PYMLive

    I’ve been helping MPI and educate meeting planners about hybrid event technology. What planners don’t seem to get (because they’re focused on the shiny technology of it) is that the same basic questions you ask when planning a traditional event — who’s the audience, what’s the goal, what’s the budget, what are you trying to accomplish — also dictate how, when and why hybrid elements are needed, organized and executed. So yes, Gianfranco, when those basic tenants are ignored, you can easily end up “polluting” your event with distractions. When you pay attention to the experience as a whole and what is essential to achieving your goals and educating your audience, I think it can not only extend your reach, it can create a really fascinating web of communication, content and connections that transcend a typical meeting.

    William- Thanks for referencing Event Camp. Almost all of them have had a hybrid component. Recently, Event Camp Vancouver decided that the first day of their event would be face-to-face only. The reasoning, said organizer Tahira Endean, is that if the goal of broadcasting your event is to make people want to attend in-person, then you have to be selective about what you share with people who aren’t physically in the room at the main event. So for the first day, people assembled in radio silence so they could bond and engage in intimate discussions before involving the chatter of Twitter and remote viewing audiences.

    I like that Seth’s taking a stance on only involving hybrid tech to engage pre- and post-event because he’s identified his core audience as one that puts greater value on connecting one-on-one. He wants to create anticipation and demand. And I’m sure that this non-hybrid approach will work for him. But I wonder if he might be afraid (just a little) that people might not bother to come if they could watch from home. I know that during this recession, the addition of hybrid elements like livecasts have actually helped associations and events grow, by making their content, communities and experiences more accesible to people who may have had travel and education budgets slashed.

    • Gianfranco Chicco

      In fact, what you note is crucial. It’s not about hybrid or not-hybrid but about asking the right questions and then implement whatever is needed to satisfy the ultimate goal (no, not financial success but providing value to the audience, the rest comes after). The solution might be a mix of digital and physical channels and experiences (I’ve taken part in some all-digital events that were perfect for certain things… I’m just in general against the “shiny” technology just for the sake of it… and do consider that I’m a geek!).

      Re: no one showing up at Seth’s event… He’s been a speaker several times at one of my past companies and I’ve never seen an empty seat during his sessions 😉

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