Most conferences have a mixed group of attendees, not just delegates, exhibitors, sponsors, and speakers, all possibly from very different industries. Put simply messaging and packaging need be tailored for each group letting them frame your story, and pointing out which elements of the event may best meet their needs, again hoping they will either attend or share the event with colleagues.
The messaging can be even more difficult as you will also have sub groups of your audience at different stages of the product life cycle (developed by Raymon Vernon TX wikipedia) which basically maps sales against time and four basic stages: Introduction, Growth, Maturity, and Decline. Understanding where your product/industry/topic is on this curve can be very helpful in framing your messaging.
Another great concept to keep in mind during the messaging and packaging stage is the technology adoption lifecycle, which is broken into 5 main groups: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards. All of which is covered exceedingly well in Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore, which focuses more on the challenge of early adopters. A bit like trying to launch a new conference! Moore talks about numerous strategies to try and move people along the curve, including, but not limited to the whole product concept and positioning. That is what I am trying to get at when I say packaging and messaging. Start thinking about your communication strategy and what content might help you build interest…how can you add more value than you can capture?
Think about the whole product concept;
- Will you offer streamed opportunities to address their specific needs
- Are there alternative formats – Workshops, un-conferences etc
- Do you need more informal networking and sharing opportunities
- Is it more of a consultative situation with one to one meetings etc…
Positioning; There are a lot of conferences out their, how you position your event could be the only differentiator!
- Will you be functional – Provide certain solutions to a problem
- Will you enhance their professional image – Provide leadership in a key are of the company or industry
- Will you help them belong – Meeting their social networking needs
- Will you provide multiple methods for them to learn – Case studies, “how to” guides etc…
You have your story and you have defined your audience, the next step is to build a communication strategy, tailor your message and product to meet the various needs of your audience! If you frame it right, it will resonate and create the need for your event.