Industry Conference Success Ratio

We have traveled to numerous communications conferences over the years and have observed both the good and the badly managed. Given the recent economic downturn it will be interesting to observe what happens to the main conferences scheduled for 2009. There will no doubt be increasing pressure on you to ensure you are attending only those top profile, high quality events. In that light we’ve gone out of our way to establish a measure of conference success.

It’s just math

Our observations in the field lead us to believe that there is a measure that you can apply to a conference that determines how effective it was at reaching its target audience. Our ratio is determined from observations you can make at the conference.

                                     Number of Geeks
Conference Ratio (Attendee Proxy) =  ---------------  x Domestic Usability Index of Chotzkes
                                     Number of Suits

Watch for the signs

So to be on top of your observations you need to know what to look out for;

  1. Suits will wear matching jackets and pants, have expensive wrist watches and constantly be poking stuff into their blackberries. They will hover around the bar consuming expensive imported drink.
  2. Geeks will look a bit more disheveled, and may be carrying on about complex technical concepts with all who will listen.  They will congregate around the complimentary food table picking off the best stuff.
  3. Chotzkes are the handouts that the companies dispense within the trade show area. The usability index of any chotzke is directly related to its ability to perform some useful purpose other than to collect dust.
In order to have a scientifically correct sample you must collect at least twenty chotzkes to be statistically valid and a simple average will suffice for the index. The usability index is measured out of 1 (one) as noted in the table below:

Chotzke Domestic Usability Index

Example of various different chotzkes Index
Pure dust collecting item, plastic bag 0.0
Something you'd be embarassed to carry to a business meeting 0.1
Another pen, yo-yo, fuzzy animal, coffee cup 0.2
Cheaply made corporate t-shirt, baseball hat 0.3
Interesting key ring, pocket protector 0.4
Leather business card holder 0.5
Witty t-shirt 0.6
Quality corporate golf shirt 0.7
Great golf balls 0.8
Cross pen, Victorinox knife 0.9
Blackberry, MP3 player, Basketball tickets 1.0

Scoring the conference

A perfect conference will score a one (1) and have a good balance between suits and geeks and reasonably good chotzkes. A higher proportion of geeks will ensure that the social events are a lot more fun.

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