According to the renowned American psychologist Abraham Maslow, we all have a series of basic needs that must be fulfilled before we can evolve and progress. So food, drink and shelter are required before we can explore higher pursuits such as friendship and love.
Event attendees are only human, so Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs may have more in common with the successful outcome of an event than one may think. By identifying these needs and then meeting or surpassing them, we can drive brand interaction and engagement like never before.
I’ve developed the FreemanXP version of Maslow for marketers, which identifies the five key attendee needs: Guidance is crucial so they can find their way around and value has to be established to ensure it’s worthwhile attending. Only then will they open up, connect with those around them and begin networking. Now we can start to enjoy the experience, to play with all those amazing brands. Finally there’s the need to evolve outside of the conference hall, to grow the business beyond the event.
Let’s take a look at these five needs in more detail, with a few examples from this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC).
Guidance. The key to attendee enjoyment is knowing where to go and how to get there. It is the foundation stone of any successful event. With proper guidance attendees are more confident, assured and inspired, rather than lost or frustrated that they might be missing something. As seen recently at the MWC, smartphone apps and interactive maps can be useful navigational tools—plus traditional face-to-face support, innovative signposting and use of color, too.
Value is a critical need, but too often overlooked. When designing an event it is important to focus on what is valuable for the attendee and not confuse it with what the organizer of the event believes to be valuable. This can sometimes be hard to define as it depends on the individual opinions of attendees, but we should strive to create experiences that are relevant, sharable and have real insight. “Intel: Experience What’s Inside” certainly provided the “wow” factor and added value at MWC.
Connect. Maslow identifies the need for human interaction. To connect on a personal level and become part of a community is inherent in us all, in business as in everything else. No event can be successful without providing great opportunities to connect—try using social media to host meetings, audience-generated discussions and celebrity interviews…basically anything that provides a relaxed atmosphere to encourage participation. Microsoft created just that with their warm and inviting Upper Lounge at MWC, likewise Samsung, with a dedicated zone for press and partners to mix.
Play. Your attendees know where they are going. They’re convinced of the value in being there and they’re relaxed and networking. That is the perfect mindset to interact with brands and each other. So this is where the fun starts. Time to introduce content in more entertaining and unique ways, to drive appreciation of the brand and create conversations that will last long after the event is over.
Grow. The whole point of attending an event is to grow professionally, to evolve business. If a brand connects with a customer at an event, it must continue the conversation afterward. The event itself also needs to grow and flourish. If organizers package content to make it more digestible and portable, it’s easier to share. This helps promote it, fueling growth in the future. Attendees will return year after year, sponsorship is attracted and more brands want to be involved.
Niru Desai, VP, Strategy EMEA for FXP, seamlessly balances industry knowledge with deep client insights, resulting in a crystal clear audience snapshot with specific points of differentiation.