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How Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Can Fuel Event Personalisation

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Niru Desai
Niru Desai

Vice President, Strategy, FreemanXP EMEA

Freeman XP

The art of anticipating delegates’ individual needs

In our day and age, consuming personalised content has become the norm, so much so that delegates similarly expect the event experience to be tailored according to their individual wants and needs. This begins from the moment they step into a space, and will determine the value that they take away from an event once it ends.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is an interesting reference point to use when it comes to personalising an event. The five stages of the model represent the different stages an attendee typically goes through over the course of an event, and highlights the various opportunities we, as event organisers, have to provide them with relevant, personalised content and experiences. 

Pioneering Personalisation from the Get Go

The first level of the hierarchy relates to attendees’ initial point of contact with a brand experience. It’s important that organisers get this stage right, as it will set up the rest of the experience, and determine how the individual perceives and enjoys the event.

We need to anticipate delegate needs before they even set foot into the event space. Avoid a broad sweeping approach, by simply directing all delegates to a generic registration desk with lanyards, or by expecting them to follow signage that points to the main event area.

Opt for tailored instructions instead. Ask each individual for information such as their job title, employer, and country of origin, so that you can provide information about sessions or showcases that might be of particular relevance to them. Delegate bags should reflect this information, too. Imagine having a currency converter in delegate bags for international attendees, or a quirky souvenir of the event’s host city. It’s these simple actions that will set the attendee up for their day ahead.  

As humans, our basic needs, such as food, water, and sleep, may be the same, yet elsewhere we couldn’t be more unique.

Niru Desai

VP, Strategy International, FreemanXP

Changing up the Value Proposition

The hierarchy’s value stage points to the fact that each individual attendee will value the many elements that make up a brand experience in unique ways. Someone may see the cost of the event in terms of whether the event was a valuable use of their time. For others, the quality of the speaker sessions will be considered more valuable.

This means it’s important that event organisers develop a deep understanding of what it is that their delegates consider to be valuable, and target these values accordingly. This could be achieved by identifying an event’s key USPs and creating content around them – whether it be whitepapers, pocket-size booklets or social posts that highlight each of these individually. These can then be shared with delegates based on their response to simple questions such as: “What are you looking to get out of this event?” either on-site or during the pre-registration process. 

The New Networking

Stage three is all about human connections, which points to the need for networking opportunities at events. We humans thrive on face-to-face communication, particularly as we become more digitised, and things like social media and Google Hangouts come to replace it.

Rather than generic post-event drinks (although these are important too), consider who your attendees are – their age and cultural background are a good place to start – and what they find valuable. Be sure to offer a range of alternatives accordingly, such as one-to-one meetings for those keen to do business, topical roundtable discussions or even things like live, online polls for attendees who might prefer engaging in discussion via digital means. 

Making It Fun

Attendees reach the next step only when they feel completely comfortable in their environment, and this will depend on how well the first three stages met their individual needs. Only once they are confident and at ease will they open up and share their thoughts and learnings with others.

Fun means different things to different people, so it’s important to curate these activities accordingly. Look at cultural differences – Americans can be quite confident and outgoing, meanwhile Brits less so. Also consider the event’s sector focus – IT professionals, for example, can be more introverted when compared to sales or advertising executives. 

The Event Takeaways

The final growth piece will come together at the end, and is all about the learnings of the event, and whether attendees felt it was relevant to them. It ties in with the bigger "Why did I come?" and "Was it worth it?" style questions.

When event content is relevant to attendees and packaged up in exciting and interesting ways, they’ll be more likely to take it away and share it with others on both a personal and professional level. More general information that doesn’t resonate with delegates is less likely to be remembered and shared, which highlights the need for personalised content.

The key to all of this is knowing your audience – look at pre-registration data and feedback from previous, similar events, and employ things like second screen technology to understand what your delegates want in real time. As humans, our basic needs, such as food, water, and sleep may be the same, yet elsewhere we couldn’t be more unique. Let’s use this to our advantage, and focus our efforts on developing a personalised approach to the brand experiences we create. The more personal and unique the event, the more likely it is that each and every attendee will feel as though they have been well cared for and their needs met. In turn, they’ll be more likely to display those desired behaviours and actions that will enable the event organiser to achieve their brand experience goals. 

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