Last week on the blog, you learned how to tell if your content engine needs a tune-up. In other words, it would be a good idea to take a look under the hood. It’s not urgent, though. You should do it, but your content engine will still run if you don’t get around to it right away.
When your check engine light is on, however, you’ve reached critical mass. Action must be taken. There are several reasons why those lights on your dash illuminated, from the innocuous to more problematic causes. It could be something simple, like a loose gas cap, or something more serious, such as a catalytic converter that needs to be replaced. Regardless of what the ultimate cause is, you shouldn’t ignore it.
When it comes to your conference, there are a few surefire signs that your content engine needs immediate attention.
- You overhear conversations about content outputs at your conference. Two colleagues lament the loss of the printed program, for instance, or voice complaints about the new app. Like it or not, people are more honest in conversation with each other than they are in surveys with you.
- You find yourself trying to convince the board (again) to budget for additional formats to deliver conference content. Does your association’s board need to be reminded that content is the engine of the annual meeting? A shift in priorities may be in order. That shock of recognition you’re feeling? That’s the light on your dashboard.
- You have noticed that your attendee demographics are shifting. Do you cater to more millennials and fewer baby boomers than you did in the past? According to a survey we conducted, millennials prefer to learn from printed materials. Have you welcomed more international attendees in recent years? They may find printed materials cumbersome; their capacity for additional carry-on space may be limited. Perhaps online conference materials are the best choice for them.
- You have learned that attendees have a strong preference for one type of output (say, online conference materials) … except for those who show an equally strong preference for a different one (say, print). As the famous quote goes, “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.” (John Lyndgate) Trying to win with everyone is a losing proposition, so just do the best you can to offer multiple outputs to your attendees—printed materials, online conference materials, USBs/CDs, and a conference app.
- You know fellow association professionals (say, the ones you’ll meet up with next week at ASAE) who have had success with offering multiple outputs. We have found that in the association world, it helps to know how other groups like yours are handling their content. Hearing success stories from colleagues (or reading case studies) may have you wondering if you should make a change.
When signs like these point towards potential danger, it’s best to take care of things right away. Conference content is too important to take for granted, or continue on autopilot because it’s easier than making a change. Attendee satisfaction does depend, in part, on whether content comes in the format they prefer—and everyone is different. The best solution is to invest in your conference by providing as many different ways to consume the content as you can.
The Omnipress team will embody the automotive theme we’ve been using in recent blog posts at ASAE Annual 2015 in Detroit. Stop by booth 515 to learn more and pick up a USB that includes our newest white paper, Your 19-Point Conference Content Inspection. We hope to see you soon!