How To Create A ‘Must Attend’ Event That Attendees Want to Promote, with Simon Mainwaring

Exclusive Interview with: Simon Mainwaring

It’s easy to think that the growing number of events makes it harder to compete and win the attention of the attendees you want. Yet that is only true if you continue to do the same things as other event organizers. Not unlike today’s consumer, event attendees are looking for an experience that resonates with them on a head and heart level. By connecting with attendees in this way, you can not only win their attention in the first place, but you can inspire them to recommend your event to others. So, how do you achieve this?

Too often, events are designed and marketed with a transactional mentality in mind. Consciously or not, organizers rob their events of humanity by focusing too much on sales or the products they are trying to promote. Instead, events should be viewed as rallying points for a community of attendees connected by shared values, concerns, or aspirations. By elevating the humanity of the event in its design and, just as importantly, in its experience, you will resonate on a far deeper level that will keep attendees coming back and recommending that their friends or colleagues choose your event over others in the future.

In terms of the event experience itself, this humanity is achieved through the sum of the component parts that include content design, storytelling at the event itself, and who that storytelling is focused on. Often events focus exclusively on their own brand, sponsor brands, or the products its trying to market, rather than framing those elements in terms of how they can add value to attendees or enable attendees to have a positive impact on others. As simple as it sounds, this shift in “come from” makes all the difference in thinking through the design, speaker line-up, content, storytelling, signage and attendee engagement of every event. It’s critical to ensure that each event you do becomes another building block in a self-sustaining community that will support your event business over the long-term, rather than an ad hoc conference that needs to build engagement and ticket sales from scratch each year.

The good news is that this heart-led connection is a business driver in today’s marketplace rather than a nice-to-have. Like B2C consumers or B2B customers, attendees want to associate themselves with brands and experiences that share their values so that the investment in their time is seen to contribute not just to their learning, but also to the realization of personal or professional goals that they care about. In short, the more effectively you can achieve a throughline between the personal purpose of an attendee, their company’s purpose, and their experience of your event, the faster they will become a community member whose attendance and advocacy you can rely on.

Viewed in this context, events can be dramatically transformed into human and emotional experiences that forge deep connections between attendees and the event itself. By doing so, your event can be seen as the beginning of a movement rather than an end itself, which will allow you to provide further support to attendees throughout the year and to deepen their connection to your brand. We have seen a similar shift in the retail experience in the face of the rise of e-commerce, and the event business must rethink its approach to create events that drive personal experiences that inspire advocacy. The event business is too competitive and too demanding to ignore leveraging these human dynamics at a time when attendees are getting more selective in terms of where they invest their budgets, times and attention.

Simon Mainwaring is the Founder and CEO of We First, a creative consultant that builds purpose-driven brands. A New York Times Bestselling author and global keynote speaker, he specializes in driving business growth through purpose for leading brands.

©, published on September 19, 2018

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