Mobile apps are designed to make our lives easier. Whether or not they succeed depends on a number of factors, not least of which is the app itself. With so many apps keeping things simple to the point of being slightly stupid, as Ernie Smith writes in his article You Can Always Get What You Want: The Rise of Press-a-Button Apps, how do you go about delivering an app with real value?
Let me explain:
The more options that are available for people to consume information in general, and event content specifically, the more people tend to develop preferences.
A self-proclaimed “book person” may come to find that an eReader gives them a level of flexibility they’ve always craved. Much to her own surprise, the book person becomes an eBook person. Six months later, she may try an audiobook and decide that she likes that even better. Though her preferences are in flux, she’s not likely to read the same book, no matter how excellent it is, in several different formats.
How does this relate to your event content? Let’s take a look.
Some people may want a printed book, whether it’s out of habit, or to match the other 20 books of proceedings on their office bookshelf, or just because they prefer print. Those attendee may not, however, choose to download your mobile app.
The opposite is also true: A young professional may be excited about downloading your app, but decide to skip the printed proceedings. Others will want a little bit of both—the mobile app for convenience during the event, for example, but printed proceedings to pore over at home, to read deeply and truly comprehend.
If you introduce a mobile event app, some of your attendees will download it right away, consuming all of the content through the app and never giving your printed proceedings a second thought. Millennials tend to fall into this group, though many gen-Xers and even some boomers will also gravitate towards the app.
When it comes time to order your printed proceedings, therefore, you won’t need quite as many, because once attendees have determined how they prefer to consume your event content, they tend to stay the course.
When you work with a single provider for your printed materials and your mobile event app, you can use this knowledge to your advantage. Without the burden of sending your content to two vendors and keeping both on schedule, for example, you can rest assured that all of your content will be ready when you need it.
If you suspect your membership will embrace the app as the sole means of accessing content, mention in a few of your event communications that fewer printed programs will be available this year and use the opportunity to reduce your print quantities. If that seems too risky, conduct a survey prior to your next event to gauge your members’ interest in mobile apps. Ask whether they would consider forgoing the printed program and using the app exclusively to access content.
It may some educated guessing to get the numbers right, but one thing is clear: Working with a single vendor for your printed program and mobile app can help you strike the right balance between information and overload and scarcity.