Tuesday Buzz: What CDs and Conferences Have in Common

Don't sell your attendees warmed-over conference ideas in a world where everything fits neatly into a playlist. Here's why. Also: Before you can rely on word-of-mouth marketing, you need a base.

Is the old conference dying out like the CD? Maybe that’s a bold statement, but in an age where streaming music outsells discs, perhaps it’s a good question to ask.

That’s the mindset Adrian Segar, author of Conferences That Work, has to offer. In his most recent blog post, Segar suggests the problem may be that, like hot singles in an age of albums with no coherent flow, individual sessions may be worth more than full conferences to some people.

“Traditional meetings are also collections of disembodied sessions. But they have not changed in the same way,” Segar explains. “With rare exceptions, we still buy a conference album: a rigid set of predetermined sessions and speakers. Yes, you can skip a session you don’t like, but you still have to pay for the whole thing. Attendees are interested in, at most, the content of less than half the sessions offered, and often the worthwhile percentage is much lower.”

Segar’s thought process here suggests, however, that the solution is not to split up sessions into tiny pieces but to create interactive experiences that are focused on participation.

“Peer conferences offer anyone the opportunity to create events that truly meet participants’ wants and needs,” Segar says. “The good news is that they still need all the logistical support of traditional meetings, together with a few new requirements: competent facilitation, different room sets, and new marketing approaches. So there are still just as many opportunities for meeting business; only the rules have changed.”

Maybe that’s not a problem if your conference is the event equivalent of Taylor Swift. But odds are that you probably need to do some rethinking to ensure that you’re creating a truly engaging experience.

Build Your Base First

The secret to word-of-mouth marketing is that you have to actually build the network that drives the word of mouth. And that requires you to build trust with your readers and users alike.

Over on MemberClicks’ blog, Callie Walker explains exactly what that means.

“Word of mouth marketing only works when people trust your organization,” she writes. “If you want to become a topic worthy of conversation, you must build a relationship with your members and maintain integrity in everything that you do. That includes posting on social media, sending out emails, managing your website, etc.”

So are you building those relationships or letting them crumble? (ht @MemberClicks)

Other Links of Note

Trying to develop the best possible email campaign? Be sure to check out these tips from The Next Web.

Had any event fails lately? They probably weren’t as bad as these lowlights featured on the Event Manager Blog.

Google+ may not be able to beat Facebook, but can it beat Pinterest? That appears to be the gamble the network is taking with its new Collections feature.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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