What Makes Group Events Successful?


Plone Conference 2007 Group Photo

Conferences like SXSW, XOXO, BlogWorld, and Comic-con all share a defining characteristic: the event is the draw. While big-name speakers and panels will often be used as marketing draws to entice possible attendees still on the fence, there’s no question group events like those previously mentioned are popular because of the synergy, rather than individual pieces.

Seth Godin believes there are two main paths to successful group events. The first, an overwhelming show of force, usually requires a large budget, large staff, large or easily scalable service/product, and a whole lot of prep time. These are the companies with the biggest booth, the biggest after party, and the exclusive breakfast in the ballroom.

The above are usually big sponsors, and without them, most events wouldn’t happen. Thank you for that.

The second path to success is, “Powerful personal interactions. Not with everyone. Just with people who want to talk with you, who will benefit from a powerful exchange,” Godin said.

The second approach requires less money, less staff, less physical set up time, and often, a less scalable product (this is why startups should REALLY go with the second option) — but it could be far more successful, especially long term. What it will take is a better understanding of who your customers are, what your industry wants, and staff that understand the difference between hearing and listening…and marketing and advertising.

Event planners, now that they know how to make their next group event successful, can often remove roadblocks for those looking to have the type of conversations we all SAY is the most important part. They can make sure the exchange of information between exhibitor and attendee is easy (we recommend a smartphone-based, QR-code system like ours), that data privacy isn’t complicated (our system requires attendees to be scanned AND approve contact requests), and there’s ample passing time between presentations to make hallway conversations happen.

Have fun at your holiday parties!