Believe it or not, we are becoming a society of problem solvers. Jay Baer, in his latest book "Youtility", talks in great detail about this and he has one quote that sums up his philosophy:
"Making a difference and creating a customer for life, is all about HELPING not SELLING."
Yet, you are a meeting professional constantly tasked with selling. You need more attendees, sponsors and exhibitors. You spend countless hours with staff and stakeholders to brainstorm ways to get them there.
However, when is the last time you really helped your attendee fix their problem?
According to Bruce Kasanoff, a LinkedIn influencer, most employers think of their customers as the problem. So the question of the day is: Do you think of your association members, exhibitors or sponsors as problems?
Here are four ways you can drive attendees from your conference for good:
Say "It isn't my job/responsibility/problem."
When an attendee comes to you or one of your staff members with a problem, this is the last thing they want to hear. They have paid good money and taken their time to be at YOUR conference. From the moment they stepped into your space until the moment they leave it, EVERYTHING is your responsibility. Find it and fix it.
Argue with the attendee.
Need I say more? Great way to keep them away and encourage them to tell 500+ of their closest friends on social. Don't do it — even if they are dead wrong.
Ignore feedback from the attendee, exhibitor, sponsor or speaker.
How many times has one of the stakeholders listed above complained to you or made a suggestion only to fall on deaf ears? My personal favorite is you are talking to someone and they say, "Can you put that in an email to me?" Don't do this! It is an insult because what you are saying is "I am too lazy or disinterested to fix your problem by just listening to you. I just don't care enough."
Another way to insult an attendee is to solicit their input/feedback and then subsequently ignore it.
Create procedures that benefit your organization but not the attendee.
You have online registration, but don't accept all credit cards and the attendee or exhibitor cannot pay by check. Who is that benefiting…You or them? They don't care that you have to pay a higher percentage for certain credit cards versus others. This procedure is all about you.
Kasanoff came up with an acronym to help you keep focused on solving your event participants' needs: LESS. Here is what each letter means and which interactive technology tool rentals make sense to help you automate the process:
Learn from your attendees and remember what they told you.
Wireless Audience Response Systems can help you encourage participant feedback in a simple, instantaneous and anonymous way. Review and communicate your plan to attendees on a real-time basis during and after the conference.
Eliminate procedures that waste attendees' time and money.
Rather than handing out large, unwieldy conference binders, rent iPads and put everything on them for your attendees and exhibitors. Allow for self-serve check-ins with computer kiosks. Streamline, streamline and streamline some more.
Sense the needs of your attendees.
Create a conference hashtag and encourage attendees to use it as a method to communicate with you and others.
Simplify your attendee's life.
In other words, make it easy for them to say yes to next year's conference and difficult for them to say no. Make Wi-Fi, program and presenter material easy to use and access.