Best Ways to Test New Ideas and Measure Effectiveness
So you’ve decided that it’s time to make a few changes. It’s time to liven things up. Sometimes you have to keep things fresh. How do you test new ideas at your event? How do you ensure that you aren’t alienating your key audience members and how do you make sure you don’t lose them, but rather, keep them wanting more and coming back with all of their friends? The key here is making your attendees part of the change and decision-making process. Here are some tips and tricks on how to test new ideas at your events without losing you audience, but rather, by empowering them to share with you what works for them and what they want from you.
Survey Your Audience. But, Beware…It Takes Time
Making changes to a longstanding event takes time. Sometimes it even takes years. One way to test your changes, without actually having to make changes is to survey your audience. Think about some changes you want to make, changes that might work, changes that would be interesting and ask your attendees their thoughts. At the end of your current year’s event, ask them if they would enjoy the new changes if they were made to the next year’s event. Ask them what changes they would love to see. Give them the chance to let their imaginations run wild and offer options that you may have not thought of. Allowing your audience to become part of the changes you want to make gives them a chance to feel heard and part of the decision-making process rather than feel like an alienated afterthought.
You can also survey your audience throughout the year as you develop new ideas and changes you want to make. Quick, 3-question surveys sent to your key audience demographic on changes that your organization may want to implement throughout the year can provide feedback and new perspectives that can help your organization determine the changes that may be ideal or things that should fall to the wayside.
Hold More Frequent Events
Another way to test new event formats without risking your audience is to hold smaller, more frequent events throughout the year. Say you’re interested in holding an event that is solely panel-focused but you’ve never done anything like that before. Create the event on a smaller scale, include 2-3 panels during an after work reception or on a weekend, invite key audience members and collect their feedback. You can also make the event free, by making them free to attend you, in essence, create a focus group event at which you can test your changes and gain feedback. Use this feedback to determine what might work or not work at your other yearly events and to show you how new structures will land with your audience. Again, you’re inviting your attendees to be part of the decision-making process and measuring how effective changes might be before larger scale implementation.
Ultimately, the decision about making changes to your event is up to your organization. Key things to remember are to keep your key audience members apprised of changes that you might make and things you’re working on. Bring them into the process and make sure they know their opinion matters to your organization. Start small. Not everything needs to change at once, risking the alienation or loss of your audience. Make little changes and see how those develop over time. Survey your audience. Ask them what they think worked well or not so well. Ask them what improvements and changes they want to see. Everyone has an opinion, make sure they know you want theirs! There’s no better way to test the effectiveness of changes you’ve made than hearing opinions from the source of your business.