What makes an event sticky?

What makes an event sticky?
Stickiness is a term which refers to the resonance of an event or learning experience on a person. So, how do we make our events sticky? The good kind of sticky that has content being shared, actionable takeaways acted upon and guests booking their ticket for the following year is what we want to talk about.

It has to elicit an emotional response. This can be from stories from the stage where your speakers are able to connect their experience to the humans in the audience. This is of course not what happens with every speaker, so let’s look at the type of speakers that can ignite this. There are the athletes and coaches, those who have trained every day, faced adversity, and who occasionally have pulled it off and won, and are able to articulate their story in a way that resonates with the audience. Michael “Pinball” Clemons, Mark Tewksbury, Catriona LeMay-Doan and Peyton Manning have all been able to do this time and again. Sticky motivation.

Then there are the “no-bullsh*t” speakers – those that lay it on the line and make us look at things head on. Scott Stratten, Seth Godin, and the down-to-earth folks like Dave Grohl, astronaut and husband of former Congresswoman Gabriella Giffords, Mark Edward Kelly and Aron Ralston (the real man of 127 hours) who tell their stories in ways that are so raw and real you can’t help but pay attention and figure out how you can apply one or two of their ideas to your own life. Sticky inspiration.

Build your brand

Use strong imagery. The initial website visit to the on-site experience will build your brand, and evocative images that tell your story throughout will enhance this. These images can come from what you create, but will also come from the social media images your participants share – so make sure you are providing backgrounds, presentations, and experiences that are share-worthy! Creating social walls that celebrate what is being shared can also encourage more sharing. Sticky spreads!

Positive surprise always ups the game in an event setting. The first gasp of delight, the mobile devices raised for photos, the smiles ear-to-ear awaken the brain and open it to learning, and more importantly to contextualizing the information for later retrieval and use. This can be done with a combination of visuals, lighting, seating styles, room selection, performance or music, scent or texture or any combination which has both appeal and is yes – surprising. Sticky learning.

Education experiences

Curiosity is the most natural human instinct and one we often forget or don’t make the time for as meeting and event professionals. We are so busy trying to create the “perfect” experience we forget to allow time for exploration, reflection, and giving participants a chance to unravel what is happening and reform it in the way that suits their needs. If we are truly embracing the concepts of life-long learning and active participation, allow space and encourage an attitude of openness, and allow the naturally curious to be active. Sticky takeaways.

We most often want to return because of the connections we make at an event. These connections are strong because we are already meeting over a shared purpose – a personal or professional journey. As we continue to design meeting and event spaces to encourage serendipitous meetings, to incite conversation, to allow for exploration of topics and to share moments with smiles, or tears, hugs or high-fives, we will continue to create the kind of event where your marketing becomes a personal outreach to those who already have a strong desire to return. Sticky events!

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