It's a full two weeks later, and I still have information and visions of advice from SIPA 2016 playing in my head. Here are nine more actionable messages to reflect on from the conference.
1. Have new product approval by committee, advised Elizabeth Petersen, EVP, health care, BLR. A representative from every department needs to know what's involved. "The more the merrier. I like to overshare with new product teams—extend invites for the new product teams to as many as people and departments as possible—marketing , finance, IT, editorial; over-invite.
2. Add one-on-one customer calls to your methods of product outreach, said Petersen. One or two people can dominate the discussion in a focus group. She prefers research diversity. She also mentioned conference observation as being productive—which rooms are filled the most, what speakers and topics are most popular and seeing how people interact.
3. With new products, be wary of cheerleaders, said Petersen. It's best to ask a customer mix. The first person I would call every time might always say, 'This is the best idea I ever heard.' Talking to her and only her" is not a good idea. Pull a list.
4. Go where your growth is. When OPIS found its path to the most revenue, CEO Brian Crotty saw projects backing up because of demand on the IT team. So he created eight such teams and now has 100 IT people. "The numbers have flipped—we have less editorial people now and more IT. Projects get out faster."
5. Establish, maintain and adhere to deadlines for your events, said Florence Torres, group show director for Penton. "Make a critical dates calendar, set deadlines for editorial and marketing. Everything cannot get done a month before an event. You need to establish a calendar and stick to it—at least six months out so you can market speakers."
6. Keep an event audience engaged after it's over. "It doesn't make sense to let this group of people fade away for the next couple months after a successful event," said Jeff Grizzel, director, quality and enforcement group for FDAnews. "Publish highlights, post video, do testimonials, put up lists of attending companies and presentations. We keep the event going year-round; 11 months away we the keep registration page active."
7. Use gamification in events. Jess Tyler, show director for Access Intelligence, said they have taken the traditional passport program and gone further with it. Attendees still get stamped by exhibitors and get prizes, But now it's done through a mobile app. Leaderboards are put up to see who's on top, trivia questions are given. "You can get very creative," she said. "We had five people who got every single point we made available last time. That included 160 sponsors and 10 questions."
8. Consider training and/or eLearning. "We thought about our business model," said Roberta Muller, SVP product development, Northstar Travel Group. "What's going to make [customers] spend money on a bigger program? The solution had to be dynamic. There are a variety of ways the end user can get engaged and stay engaged. We wanted to make sure that we offered a full-service solution—[taking into consideration that] everybody's busy and [time is precious]. Go through a course curriculum, design it and market it."
9. "If you don't say it's a big deal, then it's not a big deal," said Dan Hanover, VP at Access Intelligence. "Your event should be The Must Attend. 'If you miss it, you will not be able to do your job.' He wants publishers to do more video. "Attendees will watch a video before they read anything. They register [for conferences] with their eyes. So use short, impactful content." Hanover pointed to a page that had "Ready. Set. Register." In big letters. I recently received an email that said, "Ready. Set. Festival." Plug in what works for you.