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A digital helping hand

The prospect of producing an informative, insightful conference programme can be a daunting one for PCOs. Your audience is pressing pause on their busy schedules to attend, learn and to share knowledge at your event, and they understandably expect to be rewarded for their time. 

Wouldn’t it be great if you could create an event secure in the knowledge that your conference agenda is exactly what your audience hopes to hear, rather than programming the content according to what you believe would appeal to them the most? It is increasingly simple to research your audience first and create your plenary and breakout sessions according to their interests. 

Firstly, ask yourself how much you know about your audience. No need for guesswork – well, perhaps once…

While you may be dependent on your own expertise as a professional planner for the inaugural edition of your conference, the work for future growth begins here. Careful preparation and a data capture system ensures it will be the
only time you’ll have to do things this way. Use the first edition of your show to identify and define your audience as best you can.

With your first event, a good software partner can support your planning. Match a carefully considered and targeted marketing plan with a comprehensive pre-event registration function on your website, and you can still ensure you’re not relying entirely on guesswork. Data taken from pre-registration and other readily available digital profiles will help you to create a conference programme that caters to their specific interests rather than being generic. A good software partner may even enable you to pull data from social media profiles if the delegates provide consent.  

Once the inaugural event is underway, start tracking your delegate’s interests via interactions and capturing where they go online and – if possible – at the event itself. Make sure you are able to categorise this activity in a clearly defined and codified way, such as subject areas or product categories.

It is unlikely that a single linear programme will cater for every individual delegate’s interests, unless the scope of your conference is very narrow. So, take the data you have collected and with a good software partner, build a programme that appeals to the typical delegate while making allowances for those who may not conform to this. Select a venue carefully and use the space available to enable you to introduce alternative elements.

A good technology partner will enable you not only to revise and optimise the content of your event, but to grow your business. By reviewing data, you may detect
the need for a secondary conference programme, one which may
demand a separate or co-located event. Observe and define your audience and their requirements,
and you may find that subsequent editions end up yielding a brand-
new event even your audience didn’t know it wanted. One show may become two or more, and you already know the delegates who would like to attend.

By understanding your audience you not only have a better chance of them returning, but of helping to plan for your future event strategy. 

Do yourself a favour and take some of the guesswork out of the equation.