How to engage reluctant event attendees

By Kit Watts

2 mins

Strategies to motivate and involve your event attendees.

According to David Allison, Founder of Valuegraphics, “All we have to do to change the world is change the way we look at the world.”

Assuming you’re in the business of changing the world – and show me an event planner or director who isn’t, at least on some level – then David Allison has the insights you need.

After compiling over 600,000 surveys from around the world (YES, that’s a staggering number), David and his team know what we all care about.

Not only that, but they also know why we care about the things we care about.

That means you, me, our co-workers, contractors, suppliers, partners and our event attendees.

It turns out there are precisely 56 values that drive human behavior and there are currently 7.9 billion people on our planet. Every one of us has these 56 values in common but in different measure.

How we show up in the world

Some of those values are more important to me. Others are more important to you. It doesn’t matter how old we are, where we live, what colour our skin is or what sex we identify as. It’s our values that dictate why we do what we do and, importantly, how we show up in the world. To understand how these values work in practice, read Three People in an Alley at Midnight, an excerpt from David’s upcoming book.

That means there’s one guaranteed way to fail: make assumptions and plans based on demographic data alone. If we choose to identify or define our attendees by their sex, race, gender, age, marital status – the list goes on – then our decisions will be based on ‘groups’ who only ever agree 10 per cent of the time.

That means 90 per cent of our data, and our resulting decisions, are wrong. It also means that for every dollar, pound, euro or bitcoin we invest, we waste 90 per cent.

Lesson no. 1 – demographics are useful for telling you WHAT people are, not WHO they are. Combine them with Valuegraphics to describe the whole picture.

Who are The Reluctants?

Apparently there are three kinds of attendees who are important to event planners right now. David’s team has labelled two of these kinds of people “The Reluctants”.

As the name suggests, they’re not keen to step back into the room and participate in live, face to face events. However, the Valuegraphics research reveals that some of them can be persuaded to change their minds and show up, but we need to communicate with them in a very particular way. Perhaps even more importantly, the other type of reluctants will never show up; they never wanted to show up. Currently the pandemic is their excuse but, take that away, and you’ll find they have another reason not to come.

This is important because we now know where to target our marketing efforts and resources: on the ‘nudge-able’ reluctants. And those who are never going to show, and never did want to show, THEY become our core digital audience.

If any of these delicious findings have whetted your appetite, great! That’s our intention. As a result of working with David, IMEX no longer collects ‘age’ data. You, too, might start here and see where it takes you.

Let’s end demographic discrimination, for good!

David shared his Valuegraphics knowledge with us at IMEX America. 

Education spotlight: Supercharging engagement with Valuegraphics - in conversation with David Allison

Join the discussion on motivating attendees at IMEX

About the author

Before Kit became an IMEX employee in 2016, she was one of our PR consultants, so has been with us for 20 years.

Kit Watts

Communications Strategist