So in my last blog post we talked about how to build your conference content to make it an engaging piece of communication which reflects your business values. This time we’re going to talk about the most important part of any event – the attendees.

Building great content will bring them to your event, but how can you make the most of that rare opportunity for face to face interaction?

LISTEN Sounds obvious? Not necessarily, lots of events miss a trick when it comes to real two-way interaction. A live event is one part of your marketing plan which can hear as well as tell. Ensure your agenda contains opportunities to hear your customers – this could be discussion groups, informal networking, polls during the conference, live twitter feed… the possibilities are endless.

FEEDBACK Let’s talk about ROI – a vital measure to ensure your marketing budget survives to live another day (and maybe even increase?). Many events use feedback as a tick box metric which serves to confirm the number of attendees who would attend this event again. Great for a presentation to the board maybe, but rich feedback which helps you enhance your event, help to encourage attendees to return with a colleague… not so much. What if your presentation to the board was – “Event x was a huge success but our feedback indicates that if we spent £x more we could attract - approx. 20% additional attendees.” But how do you get that quality feedback? Here are some ideas: - Talk to the delegates (or eavesdrop) – gather information from anyone who was at the event who works for you, including suppliers! Ask the catering team to keep their ears open, ask your AV team – these people often hear feedback you will never get! - Use imaginative questions and methods – move away from standard questions and people may feel more like getting involved. Ask them how far they would travel to get to this event? Ask them who they would bring if you gave them another ticket? Ask them who their dream speaker would be and why? Give everyone a token at each session and outside have 3 boxes – Good, bad and indifferent – count the tokens in each box. This gives you fresh and live feedback on your sessions. - Use a mixture of feedback to get a richer picture – tokens after each session, observational feedback, qualitative overheard bits, exit polls, post event email. - Use different metrics – why don’t you measure how many people looked at their phones during each session? (of course you would need to have someone watching?). How many questions were asked in each session? How many people left early? Arrived late?

FOLLOW-UP Two important points on follow up:

1) Your event doesn’t stand alone – it’s one touchpoint in an integrated and joined up strategy. So show that by referencing your content at a later date in another communication. For example, your keynote speaker has a new book out – why not send it to all your key accounts?

2) If you ask for feedback you must demonstrate that you have listened to it and used it! This will actually make it easier for you in the long run as people will start to believe that you are using feedback to add value and not just as a marketing tool.

That’s it from me for now – if you want to talk about your content or event please give me or one of the Corporate Innovations team a call, we are always happy to listen, feedback and follow up!