Conference Design

The Answer to This Question Can Change the Outcome of Your 2022 Event

20th September 2021

Don Neal, Founder & CEO, 360 Live Media, urges associations to shift their focus back on their core competences, and double down on making them a better experience.

We all know there are several factors you can’t control as we plan for 2022. Travel restrictions, budget reductions, new COVID variants, and local regulations limiting event participation. Stop trying to second guess what the future will hold for anything you can’t control and focus on the one thing you can control…best answered by this question: 

“What is my organization better at than anyone else, and how does our event deliver on that one thing?” This is called your core competence, point of differentiation, or unique selling proposition. 

Here are four examples of core competencies I have seen resident in the hundreds of non-profits, associations, and professional societies that I’ve worked with these past two decades.

  1. Helping to advance an individual’s career better and faster than any other organization can accomplish. 
  2. Facilitating the buying and selling of products and services in a fashion that is more effective than the alternatives.
  3. Providing a sense of belonging and meaning to an individual seeking a community of like-minded people
  4. Unique research, information, or proprietary intellectual property available nowhere else. 

You may “own” one or more of these competencies but, before you stake claim to any of them, be sure to get validation from your members. The truth will set you free.

At this point, it’s important to point out that most events are an amalgamation of features that have been bolted on over the years to an event that started by serving one of these core competencies that your organization excelled at. You were originally like a specialty retailer that was great at one thing that eventually became a department store. And we all know the fate of department stores especially in the U.S. like Sears, K-Mart, J.C. Penny, and Montgomery Ward. Wal-Mart (the world’s largest company) is not a department store but a logistical beast with a competence of unparalleled operational effectiveness that provides merchandise that is in-stock, inexpensive, and convenient. And as Wal-Mart seeks to master digital commerce, Amazon is moving into physical retail. The lines are blurring in retail just as they are for your physical and digital event platform. 

Don Neal is the founder and CEO of 360 Live Media, a leading full-service experience design and marketing agency specializing in virtual and in-person business events, conferences, and trade shows. 

Don has served as the CMO at Marsh & McLennan, as an advertising executive on Madison Avenue, he was the co-founder of Hallmark Cards Loyalty Group, an adjunct graduate marketing professor at Georgetown University, as well as Chairman of the Board of the Catalogue for Philanthropy. 

360 Live Media is part of the SmithBucklin organization, a US-based leading professional services firm serving the association sector. 

So, what does this mean for you? It means you must focus. Focus every aspect of your “physical or digital” delivery on your core competence, and double down on making it a better experience, with less friction, more convenience, and at the best possible cost.

Think like a specialty retailer that is going back to their roots to regain the trust, loyalty, and market share that became diluted by taking their eye off the ball and trying to be good at too many things. 

For example, if you are better at bringing buyers and sellers together in what used to be a massive trade show, consider local pop-up experiences, “digital dating” where both parties can learn more about each other without risk and try mobile marketplaces…essentially a trade show on wheels traveling to member locations with suppliers funding the endeavor. Double down on facilitating buying and selling in a way that no competitor can match. Your members and suppliers will reward you for your focus on servicing their needs better than you ever have.  

If this sounds like it’s out of your wheelhouse, it probably is. Which is why some events will fail and others will be wildly successful regardless of whatever new uncertainly the world delivers us. Remember the words of Darwin…it’s the not the strongest or smartest of the species that survives but the most adaptive to change. 

One thing that is certain is that you can decide what’s next for you and make the changes necessary to survive and thrive. The power of the human mind is to see what’s possible even in a storm of fear, doubt and uncertainty. Your organization is counting on you to lead, to see past the fog, and to decide to create the future that others just can’t see yet.

When you start with what you are already great at, the odds of success go way up.

Start now and good luck. 

Hit enter to search or ESC to close