“Events are powerful mechanisms that change behavior of its participants. You know they are, if you had the opportunity to participate in a properly designed event.” —The Event Design Handbook
People fall in love—and are fiercely loyal—to products and companies they connect with. The same goes for experiences. We can all remember our favorite experiences from long ago; but, many of us would fail to remember specific content from an event even two weeks ago unless we felt a connection to it. Building experiences around content allow you to strengthen your message, and it’s important to design your content with your audience in mind—who they are, how they like to intake information and prefer to communicate.
Just like no two events are the same, every corporate audience is unique. Developing unforgettable experiences begins with asking the right questions to ensure that you understand the needs of your event and audience. With that in mind, we’ve put together a series of guiding questions to assist you in your event design approach and have you on your way to creating something incredible.
Answer the below questions to ensure you and your team are fully aware of the participants involved in this event:
• What are your event objectives?
• Why do they exist?
• What behavior do you want to change or elicit from your attendees?
• What data can we capture to measure success?
• What impact on your business are you hoping to see?
• Who is your audience?
• What are their pain points and motivators?
To engage and satisfy the attendees who will attend your meeting or event, it will be necessary to understand why they want to attend as well as what they want to see, hear, do and feel when they get there.
• Are they content-centric seeking education or problem-centric seeking solutions?
• Are they attending to develop meaningful connections or learn scientific procedures?
• Will a fun or subdued environment be best to meet the program goals and satisfy attendee expectations?
Providing multiple environments at your event for the way different people learn plays a critical part in your event design. Bringing the attendee’s perspective and experience at your event to the forefront is the most powerful way to create ambassadors for your brand.
“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” —Vincent Van Gogh
Through your event marketing. Designing a strategy that will help engage your audience pre-, during and post-event is critical to creating a moment at your event that will change behavior and create a lasting impact—one your audience will be inspired to act upon. That action could be different for each attendee, but combined, those actions all reinforce your brand, your team and the goals you established at the beginning of the event.
Your event strategy should include comprehensive communication plans across email, direct mail and social media, and your marketing strategies should contain innovative design and strong story-based content to establish emotional connections. This is no longer a nice to have; it is table stakes. Your attendees have choices—a lot of them. In some cases, they have a choice to come to your event, choose their agenda, participate in polling/surveys and connect with peers and colleagues. Building an environment around your attendees is critical in creating an atmosphere where people are engaged and make the choice to participate. Engaged participants become loyal participants whether they are employees or customers.
• Choosing the right venue for your event will help elicit a connection with your brand and provide the best environment for your audience to absorb content and messaging. A venue that compliments your brand helps reinforce your vision.
• Change up where you consider hosting your event. With demand far exceeding supply these days, there are opportunities to explore new 2nd tier markets that have emerged. Benefit from lower rates, unique venues, new hotels and often a heightened customer service experience.
Setting the stage, and your breakouts, can literally make or break how your audience engages
with your content.
• Create unique experiences one element at a time.
• Cookie cutter and predictable are out; creative experiences that motivate, excite and innovate are in. Time is a precious commodity and in order to capture mindshare at your event, a unique approach is more important now than ever. Your content strategy and the arms you place around it from a production stand point is a powerful way to create a memorable bond between you and your audience.
• With the right mix of experiential learning, second screen technology such as audience polling/surveys, encouraging feedback and questions from the audience and the right mix of engaging multimedia, what used to be a ballroom with 2,000 chairs in classroom style can suddenly be buzzing with excitement and energy. What about creating a general session that is a balanced mash-up of short sections dedicated to official announcements, brief panel discussions and thought-provoking keynotes? This blend is entertaining, educating and extremely engaging.
• You have a tremendous opportunity to build on that energy and excitement through the rest of your event so don’t stop there.
• Inspiration Hubs: Opportunity for your attendees to take part in stimulating education and training sessions. Offer provocative sessions designed to elevate industry standards, maximize meeting performance and enhance your team’s personal and professional skills. Learning formats can vary from 30-minute small group campfires to 45-minute classroom-style seminars. Based on your chosen destination, take the meeting outside, inside or in a location that is unexpected.
• Master Classes: Breakouts have shifted to Master Classes and can be a natural extension of the keynotes presented during the general sessions. Master Classes provide attendees an exciting overview of key topics and give a great opportunity to go deeper into the subject of their interest on a more personal level.
• Campfire Sessions: These sessions can be very interactive, set in a laid-back environment, simulating campfire storytelling. A facilitator drives the discussion but not the content, and content can be created by participating delegates in real time. Campfire sessions are an excellent place to learn from peers through sharing experiences. The interactive peer-to-peer format is also an excellent opportunity to network naturally with others.
• Promotional products are an impactful medium to connect with your attendees and turn your audience into champions for your cause.
• Partnering with the right merchandise supplier provides an opportunity to connect with your attendees through custom branded merchandise, creative products and innovative technology solutions that support your overall marketing program.
• Develop a pre-trip communication campaign that includes a merchandise component connecting with your destination or event theme. Carry that theme through to your on-site room gifts or registration packages upon check in.
To learn more about our strategic event design capabilities, visit our website here.
by Cate Banfield, Sr. Director, Event Solution Design & Strategy at BCD Meetings & Events
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