Don't stuff your message in a box. Give your content some breathing room. When planning our events, this is what we ask ourselves:
What is the next big thing we can bring to our event?
- How can we innovate?
- What awesome speaker can we attract?
- What great band can we entice to play during our attendee party?
Sometimes we sweep the basics under the rug and when things go south, we ask afterwards what went wrong – did we:
- Introduce a technology that was before it’s time?
- Not prepare our speakers enough?
- Choose lousy entertainment?
We’re reminded in almost every article and case study that what attendees care most about is the content; it’s the number one reason they choose one event over a similar one that’s happening in the same month or quarter.
We know that content and educational sessions matter. We might package the message differently, find some pithy comment or buzzword to capture the essence of the meaning, but it all comes down to content—and how our message is delivered across all the tracks and sessions, hands-on labs, breakouts and meetings; how it’s marketed, delivered and shared to your audience.
What we often miss in search of the perfect content and marketing is what happens behind the scenes to give our message its wings, or, if we fall short, our penguin feet. Our industry now has tools to help us organize our content solving a pain point we feel every year when trying to wrangle the speakers into giving up the goods. Our challenge is getting the message to market sooner than everyone else. Because if we don’t, we risk attendees seeing the content from a competing event and heading there instead.
So the question is: how do YOU do that?
There’s a couple options – we’ve done both. You can harass your web developer after your speaker wrangling session concludes and ask them to update the appropriate pages. You can continue to harass your techie when you find misspelled words, when an update is made to each of the sessions and when a speaker cancels. You can keep doing this until the event. It’s painful, it’s dreadfully slow, and we don’t recommend it. Lots of sleepless nights, mounting frustration and rescue from impending failure of meeting critical deadlines around every corner. Not to mention that come event time, you get to do this all over again with your digital signage vendor. They like spreadsheets as much as your web developer.
The alternative is in your integration. We’ve written about it before from a different perspective. It’s all in the API (Application Programming Interface is the fancy name). Basically, an API is a tool’s ability to send content through to your event website. Remember that example where you had to ask your techie to make even the smallest changes? Well with an API, you can make the change yourself in the right tool and it automatically updates on your website … like magic. If your event content management tool is a closed system (meaning it’s not integrated with other event technologies, such as mobile applications, digital signage, registration systems, etc.) you’re out of luck.
Hopefully you didn’t sign that multi-year contract. If you didn’t, consider asking these questions when shopping for your potential content management provider.
- Does your tool have an open API?
- Does it cost any extra?
- Who have you integrated with? (If they’ve previously integrated, they shouldn’t charge additional fees to you. In fact, previous integrations have been paid for by previous events. Your provider shouldn’t gouge you with a choice of work already completed as if it needs to be done again.)
- What type of API do you have? (This can get complicated, but in short, REST is newer and more flexible than SOAP). Hopefully, your vendor has REST or good reason why their API is SOAP.
- Does the API allow data to be pushed from the tool to other systems and receive results? Such as:
- Attendee surveys from the evaluations originally created
- Attendee selection of the sessions
These basic questions will go a long way in finding the best content management tool for your event and help you save up to 65% of your administrative time while bringing your message to market at least 25% quicker. That means increased revenue to you and the opportunity to spend more time on event planning’s best practices vs. those tedious tasks of updating spreadsheets and managing your email!
Choosing the right tool to help you with these issues won’t be the panacea to all your content problems, but it’s darn close and goes a long way to ensuring a solid foundation to building next year’s successful event.
Want more helpful event management content like this? Get download free eBook, The Ultimate Guide to Conference Planning!