Some wise person once said, “An unmet expectation is a premeditated resentment.” How simple … how true!
So here’s the thing. People who have unrealistic expectations are generally disappointed. Think about a birthday or Christmas where you did the old Wish Upon a Star routine, hoping against hope you’d get … a diamond that could compete with the Koh-i-noor … three dozen long-stemmed red roses … a new iAnything … state-of-the-art chainsaw … and were crushed to receive … um … er … a brand new dishwasher. OK, so you needed one — the old one was on its last legs. But that’s not the point is it? How could they not have KNOWN? But few people are telepathic — at least not the ones known to the Showmanator — and if you don’t tell people what you want, you are generally staring disappointment right in the eyes.
Whether it’s selecting a gift or rolling out a new piece of technology, understanding and managing people’s expectations is as critical to success as Tonto was to The Lone Ranger. In other words find out what people want and give it to them… or tell them the great reasons why you can’t. Doesn’t make much difference as long as they know which it is!
In the events world, there are so many people with expectations. Event producers looking for ways to work smarter and build value into their events. Exhibitor and sponsors who need tangible leads to justify their presence. Delegates who expect to find the info and meet the people they have been led to believe they will.
Technology can certainly help. The sophistication of functionality that can be built into event-specific apps like ShowGizmo is growing almost by the minute and definitely beginning to change the way people connect and transact. The rate at which people are migrating to smartphones is breathtaking. In our own home base (New Zealand) for example, last year only 13% of the population had smartphones. This year, the figure is 44%! The story’s the same around the globe; people love smartphones!
However, the fact remains that currently smartphones are not ubiquitous. Penetration varies from market to market. Across the African continent it’s only about 5%, whereas South Africa alone is much higher at 15% and projected to grow to as much as 80% within the next couple of years. Over 50% of mobile subscriptions in the estimated are for smartphones (about 44% across Western Europe). Hi-tech event audiences are more likely to be early adopters with high numbers of smartphone users, but the average at events is still running about somewhere around the 30% mark.
Measuring success and therefore ROI has to be based on the proportion of those who conceivably COULD use your event app, who actually do. It’s then a question of deciding what success looks like — 50% of these? 80%? 90%? — and then what you’re going to do to achieve this. Also, how you’re going to build uptake year-on-year as penetration grows. In other words, how do you incentivize your audiences to get their phones out of their pockets at events to do more than fill a bit of time playing Angry Birds?
If you don’t have a mobile strategy that is based on realistic expectations, supported by a tactical plan to achieve them, you are likely to feel shortchanged when you review your event statistics. Not only that, disappointment will stalk your exhibition halls like the proverbial spectre at the feast as participants fail to understand the benefits you’re offering because you haven’t told them what they are.
Suppliers of technology should be entirely transparent about what’s possible and share their knowledge and understanding of the tactics that drive engagement. This isn’t always the case and the moral to many producer stories we’ve heard is caveat emptor — buyer beware! The Showmanator strongly urges buyers of technology to look closely at the support and assistance that comes with the package before settling on any suppliers. It still comes back to that lovely misconception — build it and they will come. Let’s add a new spin — build it, promote the hell out of it and a proportion of them will come! If anyone tells you differently, run for the hills.