Ultimately, there are 2 massive variables that will decide whether people will come to your event.
1. The aspiration you offer – your event must be aspirational to people, and…
2. The support you provide – people must feel capable of achieving that aspiration.
I see this as the primary design challenge for event providers. As getting these 2 things right will determine whether people will come to your event, or not.
Providing a ‘Channel of Aspiration’
Events must be aspirational, in some way. After all, ‘an event’ by definition must stand out from everyday life. So we must offer something different. What people can do, what they will feel, and who they will be with.
An ‘event’ should, of course, stand out from everyday life –
or its not really ‘an event’ is it!?
However, if this aspiration is perceived as out of reach, too difficult and unobtainable, then people simply will not come to your event.
I call this a ‘Channel of Aspiration’ in events.
It is where the ‘Goldilocks Rule’ comes in. This is the term Behavioral psychologists use which states that us humans experience peak motivation when working on tasks that are right on the edge of our current abilities. Not too hard…, but, not too easy.
You know the Goldilocks story – ‘not too much, not too little, just right’. And it’s the same in events.
It’s when the right amount of aspiration is presented to us. Just enough that we feel we can achieve it, and not too much that we don’t pursue it.
So how do we provide a ‘channel of aspiration’?
We’ve seen this applied to great success in marathon and triathlon events, where the aspiration of completion is a great motivator. But a full marathon isn’t in everyone’s capability. So to ensure a channel of aspiration is provided, organiSers support participants to achieve the aspiration. This comes in the form of information, training programs, group support, motivational messages. And/or, if that’s not enough to increase your capability, they offer shorter distances, where the aspiration is better matched to your ability.
I used the example of Ironman and the sport of triathlon in my book, where being an ‘IRONMAN’ is a great aspiration to many. But for many, the pathway starts at a ‘Come and Tri’, a shorter, more achievable entry point on the path to a longer triathlon. And then, maybe a ‘Half’, or the full Ironman. And then once you have become an IRONMAN, the aspiration points you towards Hawaii, to qualify for the right to take on the famous Kona IRONMAN!
So what about other events?
A fan engagement pathway…
It’s not just on the fields, but sports events can provide a channel of aspiration off the field also.
Spectators can be transformed into fans, then members and even ‘mega fans’ simply by showing them the aspirational opportunities. By showcasing the benefits of being a member. Offering things like being ‘inside the inner sanctum’, this can spark the aspiration.
So we are best to showcase and celebrate what being member looks like, what aspirational benefits there are. And then… we give them the capability to step up, to sign up. Sometimes simply providing information on how to take a step along the fan pathway may be enough. Sometimes we just need to present the aspiration, and then provide the means. We often provide the aspiration in sport, but forget to provide the capability!
Sometimes all we need to do is plant the seed and then water the aspiration.
A fundraisers channel of aspiration
We often ask people to step up and raise funds in events. But sometimes we don’t give enough of the aspiration, or, support the capability. By providing fundraisers with a goal, a target, and a purpose that resonates, we can connect with their aspiration. And then, once that is ignited we must fan the flame by providing the tools, the tips, and the support to give the means to support the motivation.
What can you do now?
We can think about what the aspiration your event provides to your market segments. The overarching reason why people come, and the specific aspirations. What is their motivation? What needs, wants, desires does it fulfil? What does it allow them to do? To think and feel?
We can also at the same time make sure we provide, and promote, how your event will help them achieve this aspiration. How your event can give them the ability to do these things, to see what only your event can provide them.
It is all in the ‘Experience Design’, allowing your audience to ‘do more’, ‘feel more’, ‘belong more’, or even to ‘be more’.
The important thing is to provide the aspiration, and the ability. But only just.
If you need some help – just let me know.
If you would like to apply this with your events, please just touch base!