I live in a charming Cleveland suburb with about 22,000 others. It's a friendly place with great schools, family appeal and a vibrant downtown. Strolling the parks, I've noticed lots of folks with pets, too.
There's one veterinarian who's ruled supreme in our suburb for decades. Then, in 2011, a new vet set up shop right across the street. The seasoned vet operates from a quaint white brick house with black shutters and gingerbread appointments. He's earned a loyal following through the years. The new vet built a stunning, more modern structure with clean lines and easy access. These "dueling vets" have prompted lots of buzz among the villagers. Rumor has it both are engaged in a heated competition to win over pet owners in this suburb.
The vet story continues to unfold with no clear winner in sight, yet - but let's dig into a few takeaways for event organizers from this tale:
First Impressions: Are You Cloaked in 21st Century Attire?
At first glance, one might assume the vet with the more modern look and feel is more current (even cutting edge) in his practice. As you might expect, the vet with the more modern structure has a stronger web and social media presence, too. Now, look at your conference's "curb appeal." Does your conference website, registration, agenda, speakers, etc. look modern and up-to-date? Or are you trotting out the same "attire" year after year? If you're looking to engage and grow Next Gen crowds, first impressions are important.
PS: Delivering on that first impression promise is even more important.
Segmentation: Whom Do You Serve?
Have you clearly identified your conference target market? Or are you still trying to be all things to all people? Back to the vet story - I wonder how things might play out differently if one vet narrowed his scope. What if one vet focused solely on dog owners? Or cat owners?
Differentiation: What Makes You Special?
Our hometown vets offer identical services. At first glance, their expertise and staffing appear to be very similar, too. What would prompt someone to choose one over the other? Turning this back to events, what are you offering at your conference that can't be found anywhere else? What's driving your audience to choose YOU over other options?
Location, Location, Location
Both vets are located on the south side of town. I can't help but wonder why one didn't choose to set-up shop on the north side. Flipping this back to events, co-location is a strategy that's driving results for some event organizers. Still, if there's a show happening on the east coast, I would imagine there's a sizeable group on the west coast that isn't being served.
This "Tale of Two Vets" reminded me of a past Cvent post I wrote about Co-opetition. As you work on building your own conference audience, don't overlook the possibility of a little friendly co-opetition. Once upon a time, the lines between friend and foe were more clearly drawn. Today, those lines are blurring.
Imagine if these two vets put down their battle gear for a moment and met over coffee to explore how they might work together to better serve the community.
For while they battle, there's likely a smart third vet exploring that very strategy.
(photo by Shavar Ross via Flickr)