And, from discussions I’ve had recently, many of you are probably thinking what about your journey – what is your next role??
Lifecycles in events
Everything in life has a lifespan. It is the same for your events. We are all trying to increase the profile or scale of our events, and it is often difficult to know if we are trending in the right direction.
EventBrite’s 2019 industry survey found the #1 challenge facing event professionals is finding growth for their events. And many of the event people I speak with are also working out what their own growth path looks like, where their next opportunity will be. So here are a few recognised models that may guide you onto the right path. Of course, there is no one roadmap to success, or we would all be taking it, but there are some frameworks we can follow as you navigate your way. The 3 models below focus on your events, but you may choose to substitute ‘event’ for ‘my role’ (so you can use these models for your benefit as well).1. Growth Curves – knowing how to grow
We are all seeking rapid success, immediately when we start, or for that breakthrough moment where our event will become ‘the place to be’. We hope to be an overnight success, but the reality is – as it is in most areas of life – that things take time.
We expect growth to be in line with time, or the effort we put in. Again the reality is most often a different story. Most events have started small and followed an incremental growth path.
You may wish to consider this in the conte
Our most famous events have started with a small group of likeminded people, and grown over time. The 177 runners in the original New York Marathon. Only 1,500 came to Glastonbury in 1970. The same year 145 people attended ComicCon. They now get 145,000. The early adopters were eventually joined by the masses and we have what we have today.
Recent global success story parkrun had 11 participants at the first event.
TED Talks just 500 attendees.
We need to be aware that our expectations probably won’t match the reality. This gap between where we are at, and where we expect to be, can be very demotivating. So hang in there, and, have a plan for where you want to go.
Evolution and nature show us that ‘breakthrough moments’ are a relatively small mom
The famous TED Talk conferences only became famous after many years of trying. The second conference was held 6 years after the first, and it wasn’t until years later that the breakthrough growth moment occurred. TED “used to be 800 people getting together once a year; now it’s about a million people a day watching TED Talks online”.
TED reached its billionth video view 5 years ago, but it had taken some strategic shifts to enable that growth. It was only once the event model was flipped to a more ‘shareable’ one that the ‘Ideas worth spreading’ received exponential growth. The tipping point was the when the pool of content that had been developed was freely shared online with the world. The exponential growth was enabled by the decision to make the ideas truly shareable.
Importantly, what TED did, was identify the need for change, to evolve, to grow.
2. Where are you going?
Three things may happen with your events lifecycle, it may grow, stagnate, or it may die. And if it is growing, there are two likely paths it may take, exponential growth, or incremental growth.
The Exponential curve (also known as a J-curve) occurs when there is no limit to population size (or market opportunity). The Logistic curve (also known as an S-curve) shows the effect of a limiting factor (in this case the available market for your event).
The J & S Growth Curves
J curves and S curves are two modes of measuring population (or event) growth.
Womens’ only events, Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathons, Colour Run, Tough Mudder and Spartan all opened up new grow
How can you jump the J curve?? What is the next phase? The next market??
Analysis and strategy is essential for the next phase of your growth. Looking at where your event is at in its lifecycle, and, the capacity of that market is critical. The smart people I’ve worked with all recognised this is the path to a productive event lifecycle.
The rugby sevens concept gave rugby the opportunity for global growth in new (and existing) markets. And
And for you – look at where you are at within your current organisation, is there something you need to do to jump onto the next phase of growth? Picking the next best wave to carry you forward in your journey.
3. Why aren’t you growing?
Sometimes we need a reality check. To check whether we are on the right path.
So often in events, we repeat what we did last time, and it is natural given we are looking for efficiencies, to use our learning’s, and to lessen risks. But we should check what we are doing, seeing if it is still giving us the desired results.
The Law of Diminishing Returns
This Law means that we reach a point with our efforts, or our entire events, where the level of benefits
Admittedly our human wiring for loss aversion (we fear losing more than we desire gains), coupled with a reluctance to give up something we’ve invested ourselves in – the sunk costs – means this can make these discussions more difficult to make. But we need to be aware of what is going on.
Likewise from your personal perspective, there is the usual pattern that your role on an event is exciting in year 1, a chance to make things great in year 2, but starts to reduce in years 3 and 4. This isn’t always the case, perhaps check if you’re in a state of diminishing returns within your role. If there is, having a chat to your manager about your next phase may make a big difference.
4. The reality is
I work with event teams to help design events, but what I’ve also found is that the most significant demand is in the redesign of events. And I think this is a case of many events reaching a mature state, of us realising there needs to be a new way of working, to navigate our way towards growth.
THE REAL JOURNEY
So often events lifecycles and our own lives take on a seemingly random path. We are all working out where we are going on our journey, both with our events and for ourselves. But despite the 2 steps forward, 3 sideways and 2 back scenarios that we seem to encounter, the paths we take will often follow these models. So I hope they may help guide you in your next phase of growth.
If I can help with that, please let me know.
And… a good friend reminded me recently if you don’t ask, it doesn’t happen. So please, can I ask you to share this with anyone you think may find this valuable? And if you do, thank you!
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