Rich Westerfield posted recently about how you might use a pay what you feel model for meetings. He raises this point:
But we’re forgetting something: cash flow. We often need that early registration cash flow to fund the final mailings and pay for some of the onsite work. For many small and some mid-sized events, B/E doesn’t happen until the final couple of weeks when 50% or so of registrations are in.
I think this misses a point about some new models for meetings that are currently evolving: they don’t use traditional marketing. They can’t afford it. These new meeting models focus on word of mouth, attracting opinion setters as early registrants and using lots of social tech (blogs, wikis, etc.). I doubt that the BlogHer conference has done or ever will use a mass paper mailing to attract participants.
You can’t just blow-up one aspect of a meeting and expect to have the rest of it be business as usual. The entire enterprise has to be re-concieved.
Doc Searls has a good article on unconferences, which is a new way of holding meetings and letting the participants drive the content of the event.
I just did a presentation for the KCSAE yesterday and unconferencing was one of the topics I covered. I think there is a lot of potential in this model for associations and I’ll be writing more about it in the near future.
I’m not trying to pick on Rich with this post, he is a constant source of new ideas for meeting marketing. His post just triggered something for me that I wanted to write about. Thanks, Rich!