Make Their Bucket List
In 2014, a Gartner survey suggested that “89% of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience, versus 36% four years ago.” This is an incredible change in a short time. And in the 2 years since, that hasn’t let up, and won’t any time soon. We are in the era of experience.
When there is a proliferation of choice, consistent product quality, and price differences are small, experience becomes critically important. Think about it. 50 years ago, your eating out choices were half as many as you have now, and you actually ate out probably half as much (or even less). Today, with so many places you can go, the game has changed and experience counts for so much more.
The same is happening with events. There are a lot of events, and even more will be created in the next 5 years. Attendees will have to choose carefully which events they can attend each year, creating a sort of “bucket list” of events they attend each year — the ones they can’t miss because of the value they provide to the attendee. Consider Salesforce’s Dreamforce, for instance. 150k+ attendees hit this event each year. Many of them come back year after year (I’ve been 10 years in a row now). For many, Dreamforce is a “bucket list” event.
If you are a marketing manager 10 years ago, you might go to a Marketo or Eloqua conference because email marketing automation was your main technology (an in some cases, your only one you used in Marketing exclusively). Today, however, you might be using a full range of software used to manage social media, content, voice of the customer, and more. So instead of one conference, you might now have choices between 5–6. That is besides your industry conferences made just for marketing professionals. At some point, you will have choose between events and leave some out. But there will be those certain ones that always make the list — the yearly “bucket list”.
So, if you are going to create an event and make an attendee’s “bucket list” of events, you must compete on experience. Content, entertainment, and parties are not enough by themselves — especially in the next 3–5 years. You will have to find new ways to stand out, and that will always come back to not just what you provide them, but how you provide it. Indeed, Attendees have a limited capacity to attend events. They will choose. Make your event fit inside their bucket each year by creating experiences that can’t be missed.