How to organize a successful conference

Conference organizing companies have different goals. For some, this is the main business, someone is positioning itself as an industry leader, and the conference assigns this status to it, some view the conference as an important component of the company’s traditions. And yet, with a scatter of goals, not a single organizer wants to fail his conference, does not want it to be boring and gather few participants. Therefore, in this article we will proceed from the common tasks for all – it is profitable to sell your event and conduct it qualitatively, at a high level.
Getting started
As a rule, a company undertakes the organization of a business event, when, firstly, there is an actual problem that concerns its target group, and, secondly, this target audience is concentrated and achievable (that is, the company has the necessary database).

In the broadest sense, the conference is a mix of four components:

  1. information on the state of the industry (analytics, future projections, legislative initiatives);
  2. opportunities for contacts with colleagues, experts, government officials, potential customers, suppliers and partners;
  3. practical experience of companies;
  4. conference materials (collection of reports, analytical reports, thematic publications, list of participants).

The process of preparing a major event takes from four months to a year. Structurally, it can be divided into several key stages, at each of which the organizer can wait for pitfalls:

  • Determining the subject of the future project and its target audience.
  • Detailed program development, inviting speakers.
  • Promotion of the conference through various channels – media, sales.
  • Organization (site selection, catering, equipment).
  • After the conference – information support for delegates, publication of the event.

The most important role is played by the definition of the theme of the future event. If we make a mistake at this stage, the entire future brilliant organization and talented sales managers will not make the conference a significant event that brought together key industry players.

When choosing a topic, test it by several parameters. Check the box if your answer is “yes”:

  • Do you have a contact database of your target audience?
  • Have the events of this kind been successful in your company, in a competing company or abroad?
  • Have you received a positive assessment of the topic from several external industry experts?
  • Have you received a positive assessment of potential conference participants?
  • During this period, there is no serious competition among events of similar subjects?
  • In the course of the survey, did you find people willing to speak and corresponding to their qualifications in the level of the conference?

The more positive responses, the more chances to implement a successful project.

The theme of the conference should be multifaceted, affect the interests of all market participants, and the event should take place at the “right” time. The most successful period for holding an event is the time for introducing changes in legislation and state policy in a particular sector of the economy.

At the initial stage, record all the most wild and unexpected ideas, without hesitation. Group them around a central idea: who knows, maybe one of them will be the highlight of your project and will highlight it from dozens of other professional events?

Content and “star” speakers – the key to success
Obviously, in the invitation of speakers, a great role is played by the fame of the company they represent, the position and experience they can share. As for the content of the report, from the point of view of its perception, this structure is ideal: covering the general situation in the industry – 25%, cases – 50%, discussion of the topics covered – 25%.

If you have ever participated in conferences, you know what the most common complaint among the delegates is: “the content of the report was frankly advertizing, there was little concrete data and figures”! Even attracting to the speech of the top manager of the largest international corporation, there is a danger that the entire report will be reduced to a story about what a good and large company is. The task of the project manager is to convey to the speaker that he is not talking about himself, but about what is interesting to the audience, otherwise you can lose the interest and confidence of the conference participants.

A competent conference program is based on several basic principles:

  • from theory and general vision to case studies;
  • strictly according to planned time;
  • from macrosector to microsector (or from industry problems to problems of market participants);
  • from the script to the debates and discussions.

How to promote the conference?
When a product is formed, the task of the marketer is to inform the target group about it. Of course, it’s ideal to enlist media support. However, it must be remembered that such support can be difficult, time-consuming and expensive. Sometimes it is much easier to reach the target audience by delivering information about the event through professional industry publications, which your client must be reading.

On the one hand, the tools for promoting the conference are rather poor. Everything is limited to direct marketing tools. On the other hand, the perception of tools and the response to various methods are constantly evolving. This trend forces the organizer to constantly invest in databases, carefully personalize information, monitor responses across all promotion channels, and also invest in new technologies.

The competent combination of all sources is also important. The response to sales and promotion depends not only on the plan for promotion and sales, but also on the organically built pricing policy. So, when announcing a 25% discount for early registration, we must make sure that the delegate will receive this information from all sources two weeks before the end of this period. This will allow you to receive up to 40% of revenues 10 weeks before the event.

Creativity in project organization
Top managers and specialists of companies are tired of a series of similar events, so you can and should diversify the format of your event by including in the schedule of parallel sessions, round tables, the award of professional awards, excursions.

It is very important to organize communication between delegates and speakers. Sufficient time should be planned in the conference program for discussions, formal and informal communication. Interestingly, the preferences of the conference audience vary depending on the industry: for example, financiers and lawyers are primarily interested in the content of the event, the actual content and practical cases, while for the telecommunications market experts the informal part of the conference, live communication with colleagues in the coffee breaks, buffets and discussions.

The desire to keep up with the times forces us to include new options in the delegate package: such as the Expoconnection system, which allows delegates to schedule and coordinate meetings with an interesting person before the conference. After all, we often see how conference participants make a deal here between themselves. In such cases, delegates can be offered special meeting rooms.

Expanding the opportunities provided to delegates at the conference is a question of the professionalism and ingenuity of the organizers. This can be a selection and sale of books on the topics of the event, analytical reports and the texts of laws in the delegate folder, CD, SMS questions to speakers and many other options that correspond to the format and status of the event.

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