Keep your tension steady

August 8, 2008   |   AUTHOR: Julius Solaris   |   POSTED IN: event planning 2.0

This post suggests how to manage positive tension in longer events. It is based on Everett Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovation.

If you ever attended a marketing class, course, degree you probably heard of Everett Rogers and his book “Diffusion of Innovations”. He synthesized very well the level of adoption of new products and categorized the adopters in groups. You can see the graph resulting below:

Source: Wikipedia

It is pretty straightforward and gives you great insights about who you will probably deal with at your next event.

Applying Rogers’ Bell Curve to Events

Events are by definition a new product. Although you may have a recurring events, the intangible, co-productive component of the service will make every event unique and thus new to the perception of the customer.

This model applies to events that last over time (4 days+), although you can definitely apply the same model to say registration process at a given event.

Tension

The element I want you to focus on is tension. Positive tension is key to successful events. Call it passion, motivation, teamwork, drive.

Think about the events you attended in the past. Could you feel the staff particularly helpful, aware of what to do, experienced and collaborative. This is the customer perception of tension.

What usually happens with tension

The image below shows the level of tension and its behavior during the planning and execution of an event, next to the Rogers’ graph.

If we look at the Planning section of the graph, it will be easy to note how the level of positive tension tends to increase, reaching its peak at the beginning of an event.

After the peak, the level of motivation starts a steep descent. This is due to several factors coming in. The staff is tired of repeating the same processes everyday and the overall motivation organically drops.

There are two issues with that

– The level of satisfaction is profoundly linked with the above. Therefore the less motivation, the less the customer satisfaction.

– Only Innovators and Early Adopters will experience your peak. This means you performed at your best with only 15% (and possibly 2.5%) of your customer base.

With goods and tangible products you can afford to address your efforts only to these people. They will talk positively about your product and serve as hooks for the Early Majority, Late Majority and Laggards.

This scenario does not apply to events

Events as intangible services do not stay the same over time.

In cheap words, you need to keep it up all the way to the end.

You cannot afford to miss out on the 75% of your customer base. You need to show them a great level of performance.

A new model

Here is how it should look like:

As an event manager you need to make sure the positive tension of the team stays at the same level for the whole event. It doesn’t matter whether you are managing a 3 months display or a 4 days exhibition. The customer paid for that and expects to get what was promised and possibly more than that.

If you allow the tension to drop, it will be like selling perfectly working Iphones to 15% of your customers and models with cracked screens to the rest.

How to keep the tension steady

Design shorter shifts.

Work carefully during planning and make sure everyone (this includes you) knows what to do if things go wrong.

Do not stress staff too much during the first part of your event. Do not apply pressure and don’t get overwhelmed by the need to succeed.

Stimulate your staff when they do not expect it. If the staff is responding to a large number of customers do not apply pressure during these moments. Observe and evaluate, only after suggest improvements.

Treat every customer with the same level of service.

  • Vern M.

    Keeping up that level of positive tension throughout the entirety of an event is a laudable goal, certainly, but in general probably a really difficult thing to accomplish unless that idea was put forth even before the planning stage. Thusly, your tips about how to keep the tension steady above, would definitely apply to the planning and pre-planning phases of the event; doing so would go a long way towards preventing burnout.

    After the event is over and tension is still high, make sure to follow up with customers from each subset of “innovators” with a customer satisfaction survey to see what their perceptions of the tension, intensity, and value were. That way you can tell what it felt like for someone who was supposed to be the focus of those emotions and if the job was done or not.

  • http://www.eventmanagerblog.com tojulius

    True and agreeable.

    Thanks for the comment

    Julius

  • Vern M.

    Keeping up that level of positive tension throughout the entirety of an event is a laudable goal, certainly, but in general probably a really difficult thing to accomplish unless that idea was put forth even before the planning stage. Thusly, your tips about how to keep the tension steady above, would definitely apply to the planning and pre-planning phases of the event; doing so would go a long way towards preventing burnout.

    After the event is over and tension is still high, make sure to follow up with customers from each subset of “innovators” with a customer satisfaction survey to see what their perceptions of the tension, intensity, and value were. That way you can tell what it felt like for someone who was supposed to be the focus of those emotions and if the job was done or not.

  • http://www.eventmanagerblog.com tojulius

    True and agreeable.

    Thanks for the comment

    Julius