The mandate to inspire isn’t going away. How will you conquer it? We have an answer.
To drive event registrations and build a sustainable organization, you have to inspire the base. Wake them up. Shake them around. And get them to act. Now.
But it’s hard to do. We feel your pain. That’s why we write about it so much.
Now, we’ve given you various advice. We’ve told you to market your event by telling a story around the person-to-person interaction. We’ve told you to create excitement and inertia with your registration brochure. We’ve told you to start with why.
We stand behind all of this. Earlier this year, we wrote: “The fact that virtual can’t match human is the meat of your story, and you better tell it in a compelling way.”
And we’ve got a pretty good idea about what the most compelling way is, as of this minute. It’s not a web site. It’s not a printed piece. It’s an app.
“Oh, good. I already have an app,” you say.
No, you don’t. Not the kind we’re talking about.
We’re not talking about a event app that your attendees download on the way to the event (or on-site). We’re talking about an app that drives registration, a next generation, interactive, voice and video-enabled digital publication. We’re talking about an app that generates pre-conference connections and excitement. An app that teases, entices, engages, and flirts with your potential attendees, creating a vibrant experience that leads them to click on “register now.”
We’re talking about an app that helps you do the thing you desperately need to do: inspire people.
A digital publication that comes alive on your iPad can engage in a way that we haven’t seen in decades. In fact, we have to go back to the mid-1990s and the CD-ROM for a comparison. It sounds like old technology now. But let’s look at what it did: CD-ROMs created a sensory experience that engaged viewers and took them on a journey. It was an immersive world, not a flat world. Although the web ultimately replaced CD-ROMs, it never quite filled the niche.
In fact, a bunch of the things that were popular on CD-ROM (especially games) reappeared on iPads once app technology came onto the scene. It’s because there is nothing better out there for engaging users—not even on the web. And PDFs don’t even come close.
Your registration brochure, reimagined as a vibrant, colorful digital publication app can hold video, animations, audio, and slideshows. It can incorporate live twitter feed and be customized with HTML. It can also showcase 3D pictures (vs. flat). Through these mediums, this kind of digital publication app can tell a variety of stories.
- Animations and videos that come alive.
- Interactive articles about what attendees will experience.
- Snippets of keynote speakers giving their presentations.
- Sessions and workshops with one-click download of slides, worksheets, and handouts.
- Tools for users to quickly and easily set up networking opportunities beforehand.
- The ability to entice sponsors and take advertising to the next level
- A hub for discussions, tweets, posts, and images of your event—six months before it even starts!
- 3D images that showcase the venue.
- A quick, easy registration process, right there in the app.
A registration app transforms the user experience from the flat world of “telling,” to the immersive world of “showing.” Instead of just telling people to be there, an app shows them in a very human way why they need to be there.
Why tablet apps?
In case you’re wondering: we’re focusing on apps for the tablet market vs. the smart phone market because the research shows that the smart phone is more for on-the-go use, to quickly check and respond to email, or to glance at headlines or web sites—mostly for quick information. On the other hand, tablets like the iPad are more strategic thinking devices. They engage people for longer periods of time, encouraging them to sit down and enjoy the experience (more like reading a book or a magazine).
The Pre-Conference Party
With an app for your registration brochure, here is a snapshot of how it could work: you promote through social networking, email marketing, text messages, and direct mail effort (an inspirational, well-designed piece), all of which lead people to a cool animation or video on your home page, which links to your app in the app store.
Within two or three years, this will be the main way you promote your event. Everything will be wrapped around your registration app. And by the way, apps aren’t limited to the registration brochure. Create a digital publication for your sponsors brochure and exhibitors brochure, too (imagine the selling opportunity that could create).
Marketing your app drives registration by building excitement; it sets up a pre-conference feeling for the event. It’s almost like your event has already started. In fact, it IS how it starts. You’re not just promoting it six months out: it actually begins six months out. (Perhaps this means you can even start charging more for early registration!) Your web site won’t go away. It will simply become a kind of information hub. But the mobile, immersive experience of the app—that will become the cornerstone of how you inspire.
Get There Before Everyone Else
We’re not jumping on the app soapbox because we like the view. We’re advocating for registration brochure apps because the numbers make sense.
Tablets will overtake desktop computers. They will. Already, we’re seeing about 20 percent of users choose iPad over the computer. In a recent South by Southwest panel discussion (click here to listen), a panelist presented research that showed that when given the choice, people opted to use an iPad app versus the web at a 5:1 rate. Five to one.
With more than 55 million iPads out there (that number is 100 million once you factor in the other tablets), that percentage is only going to grow. By the end of 2012, we expect 35 percent of users to prefer the iPad/tablet to the computer. And by the end of 2013, 50 percent—yes, half of your base—will be on the iPad/tablet.
If apps are where your people are going, it makes sense to meet them where they are—and then to lead them. Remember the adoption of social media? You may have pushed it aside as a fad—but now, you can’t run or promote a event without it. But think about what it felt like to be late to the game. Think about the rush to catch up.
This time, you can be prepared. It’s your chance to be out front, using the technology in the right way.
Be Relevant, or Don’t Bother
In two years from now, this is how the majority of events will be marketed. By making the switch now, you are addressing the current trends and making your members feel very relevant. When members feel relevant, they have a reason to believe that your event is worth their time and money—and they also have a reason to spread the word.
But more than anything, they help people actually come to your table. Because if no one shows up, your event won’t survive.
Drop us a line and tell us what you think about app marketing. Challenge us with a question we don’t know the answer to, or tell us your vision for what you’d like to see an app do. We’d love to chat with you about it.
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