Ed Bernacki Conference results: by default or by design?

Would you provide a money back guarantee for your conference?


August 20, 2007

By Ed Bernacki

Here is a crazy idea for your conference: guarantee people will leave with ideas worth more than the cost of registration. Imagine a conference with a financial guarantee. Imagine this conference opening:

"Welcome. You have given us $1000 to attend this conference. We want to give you $1000 worth of results or more.

"We know that most people come to these events, take notes and never look at them again. Let's think about what we should record at conferences. The secret is putting a dollar value on these results. It's arbitrary, and yet the dollars count. Consider:

Record Ideas and insights: the 'aha' moments
"The most value comes from ideas that you see as useful. Some are hot while some may seem loony. Ideas are the highest value as they involve many actions: $100.

Record questions as they are a future conversation or an idea deferred
"The best questions are like an 'idea deferred' if you think about it back at work. They offer potential value. Add $25 per question.

Record quotes references, memories
"A 'quote' can be something you hear or read, or a reference to a book or website: add $20. 

Record actions: what can you do?
"Actions are simple: read this, call them, or review something. Make them tangible and practical. Add $20, perhaps $50 if it’s big. 

Remember the people you want to follow up with
Who are they? What is the context of your conversation? Add $20.

"By the end of this conference you need to add up the value you get from this conference. For example, imagine this result:

1.           Ideas - I found 6 ideas: $600

2.           Questions - I have 8 questions I want to consider later: $200

3.           Quotes - I captured 2 quotes and two books I want to read: $80

4.           Actions - I find 5 immediate actions I can take - $100

5.           Contacts: I have 4 business cards of people I want to follow up with: $80

"If you can't come up with $1000 worth of value, our staff will help you squeeze out some extra ideas. If we really can't find enough value, we will refund the difference between what you paid and what you got back."

Would your conferences make a financial promise like this?
If you were accountable for the value people got from an event, how would this impact on the design of the conference?
--Would the relationship and involvement with speakers change?
--Would the learning objectives change to reflect this accountability?
--Would you pay more attention to what people record and how they record it?
--Would you open and close your conferences differently?

It may be a loony idea. How would your participants feel if they left your event knowing that they captured enough value to justify the cost of attending? Would they come back next year? You bet.

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