Purposeful Planning

Marketing Your Events with a Purpose

Image of compass
Image of compass

While attending an event for women entrepreneurs recently, I heard an interesting concept about marketing that I had never really considered. The speaker, Diana Lidstone, asserted that in an online world like ours, “people pay to remove pain more than they pay to get the dream.”

This certainly made me pause. Coming from the hospitality industry, where all we do is “sell the dream,” (Beautiful destination! Elegant hotels! Delicious cuisine!) I never thought that it might be more effective to focus on people’s pains versus pleasure as a more effective way to market.

It made me think: do people come to our events to get pleasure or address a pain? Some of you may think, “Well it depends on the meeting and the prospective attendee.” Touché.

OBJ360 (Sponsored)

Let’s think in general terms for a minute and take as an example our own MPI Ottawa events: while suppliers are always looking to learn, they might be more inclined to attend for “the dream” of meeting prospective clients. If there are no planners there, they may not think it is a worthwhile event. The same would apply to the sponsors or exhibitors who attend your events for business development purposes.

“People pay to remove pain more than they pay to get the dream.”

Back to MPI, most planner members I know register if they feel the event will help them learn about a problem so they can eliminate a challenge (address a pain) and make a situation better.

Since suppliers usually are happy if they have lots of clients to chat with, it’s obvious that the first order of business is to focus on buyers’ pains!

But are we doing that effectively? I started thinking of my own events and realized I may have been focusing a bit too much on the dreams, rather than the pains…

Have a look at your conference program copy: are you promoting your conference with the usual “Come to connect with colleagues!” or “Enjoy the beautiful sights of (insert your destination of choice here)”? Or are you spelling out how your event is going to help solve whatever pains you have identified in your prospects?

Digging deeper, is your event marketing copy meeting the “SO WHAT” test? So what if I connect with colleagues? What is that going to bring me? So what if the event is in that city, what am I going to get out of it? (Especially when travel can be such a pain these days!)

I’m not advocating the elimination of ALL “selling the dream” marketing, only that, in this era of increasingly shorter attention spans and overwhelming amounts of information, having another look at how we position what pains our meetings can help relieve feels like a better route to success.

Photo of the article's author, Doreen WagnerArticle Written By Doreen Ashton Wagner, Greenfield Services Inc.
Article edited By Rozanne Lyons, CMP, Intertask Conferences

This article was originally published on MPI Ottawa’s Conventus website on May 29, 2017.  

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