The 6 Rs – Part 1: Is Your Annual Event Growing By At Least 15% A Year?
Why 15%? The better question is: Why not?
Why not set the bar a little higher? Why not do what it takes to raise the stakes and go big? Michael Douglas famously said in the 1987 film Wall Street that “greed is good.” That’s so 1980s.
While greed is bad, “growth is good.” Good because growth gives you options—options to invest in new ways to serve your members, strengthen your reserves, better advocate on behalf of your industry, fund better benefits to retain your best employees, attract great new talent, and demonstrate that, as a leader, you are a builder, not simply a steward.
Now the question becomes: What should we focus on growing?
Let me suggest that you focus on growing each one of the 6 Rs. These 6 Rs are the construct we use to define success and prioritize organizational goals for our clients and our own company.
Here they are:
Welcome to our first series on how the 6 Rs can help you grow your annual event portfolio. This week, I’ll set the stage with Relevance—the R most critical to the success of your organization and foundational to the growth of the other Rs. Over the next few weeks, I’ll dive into each of the other 5 Rs with you.
Spoiler alert: These 6 Rs will all seem obvious to you after you finish this series. Just remember that you probably haven’t been explicitly using them to drive and measure growth. And if you’ll start using them this way, I promise it will change what you invest in, how you measure growth, and how your team designs and executes your event portfolio.
Relevance. Does anything else really matter if you’re not relevant and, more importantly, relevant to those who matter to you? Relevance is about showing me the money, showing me why I should care, WIFM (what’s in it for me?). It’s “Do you know who I am?” “Do you get me?” and “Do you remember me?” Unlike in the days of mass production, mass consumption and mass marketing, today, one size fits one.
Unfortunately, events are built for scale and mass audiences; they’re not designed to be curated experiences delivering individual relevance. So, are you relevant to those who matter most to you? Here are a few questions to help you figure out if you’re on the right track.
- Do you have a data-driven audience segmentation approach that drives the design, marketing, pricing, programming and engagement experience at your annual event?
- Do you have a member intimacy strategy that creates stickiness, purpose and engagement with your organization?
- Can you anticipate the needs and deliver a customized experience for first timers, loyalists, emerging professionals and the many other important membership groups who would benefit if you were more relevant to them?
Individual relevance is the most important driver of event success.
Typically, there are 4–6 cohorts of your total audience who represent 80% of your event audience. Know who they are, what they care about, where they’re from and what they want from you. I guarantee you will begin to plan and execute your event differently.
Now, start thinking about how you can focus on Relevance to begin to move in the direction of 15% growth. It’s not only possible, but it’s sustainable, too. We work with an organization that has grown their attendance 160% and their sponsorship revenue by 4,000% (no, that’s not a typo) over the past six years. And they are not alone, we have a long list of association clients that are achieving this level of growth.
Tune in next Monday for the next part of this series on the 6 Rs of association growth.
P.S. Thought you’d like to know that I always try to follow a framework when writing these blogs around the what—so what—now what construct. I introduce an idea (what), explain why it matters (so what) and hope that if you’re interested in the now what, you’ll drop us a note to find out how to put these ideas into action.