Meetings

Your Next Great Event Idea Is an Already Great Product

By / Mar 29, 2013 (iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

One media organization is producing a new event, which is an extension of one of its most recognized products. Can your association do something similar with its most popular products, services, or brands?

Can you think of any way to expand your top three non-meeting offerings into the event space?

U.S. News and World Report is once again expanding beyond the media world and into the event space. Come November the organization will launch its brand-new Hospital of Tomorrow forum in Washington, DC. The three-day event, which U.S. News will produce, is an extension of its annual “Best Hospitals” rankings that have been published for the past 23 years.

“Leading medical experts, renowned healthcare visionaries, and top hospital executives will gather … to address the most critical challenges facing the future of the hospital industry,” said a press release announcing the event’s launch [PDF].

“The ‘Best Hospitals’ crowd is made up of people who are on the cutting edge of medicine’s trends—in technology, personnel, patient care, finance. These top professionals and other visionaries will be well represented at the summit, and we’re planning to draw heavily on their expertise and leadership to ensure a premier event,” said Brian Kelly, editor and chief content officer for U.S. News.

The forum will consist of education sessions, workshops, and roundtable discussions led by healthcare expert and innovators from these top-ranked hospitals. Topics will include chronic-care management, data security and privacy, workforce shifts and shortages, and patient safety and quality.

According to the press release, planners are hoping to “attract top-level healthcare executives from across all disciplines—CEOs, CIOs, CMOs, and CFOs from thousands of hospitals throughout the country.” In addition, participation in the event will be capped at 750 C-Suite executives.

Sounds pretty similar to learning opportunities associations offer and audiences they hope to attract to their meetings, right? And while this event could be in direct competition with events offered by hospital- and other medical-related associations, which poses another critical issue for associations as they plan and execute their meetings and events, for the sake of this post, I’d like to focus on what lessons associations can take away from U.S. News leveraging a well-known brand and product and extending it to the event space.

For instance, think of all the products and services your association offers, as well as the sub-brands within it. Now figure out which ones rank highest, are most recognizable, or are most important to your members. This may be easy to find by looking at your recent member needs assessments or satisfaction surveys. If you look at the top three or five that aren’t already meetings-related, can you think of any way you can expand these into the event space?

One easy example could be your organization’s magazine, especially if it is highly recognizable and well-received by members. (Yes, I do admit I may be a bit biased here, but bear with me for a moment.) It’s likely that your editorial team talks regularly to members/experts in the field for articles. What if you put together a panel based on a recent article that had a lot of traction or generated a lot of online discussion? You could have those sources participate in a roundtable to further discuss the points in the article, and perhaps the writer or another editor could serve as a moderator. If your organization publishes books, you could do a similar thing with the authors by hosting an online or face-to-face chat. One association already trying out a similar concept is the National Association of Realtors. Its Realtor magazine currently hosts real-estate webinars throughout the year, which are branded back to the publication.

Whether you’re struggling with your current event offerings or just looking to try something new, looking internally at already successful products, services, and brands can be a good place to start. You’re next event success can already exist in one form and require just a small amount of tweaking to take it to the next level. Where else do you think associations can look internally for their next meeting and event ideas?

Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editorial director of Associations Now. More »

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