Point coins

I’m under incredible pressure to increase our conference ticket prices.

When I think about ‘value’, I think way past ticket price – I think about the day you take out of your working week, I think about your travel, and I think about the mental investment you make. Your investment is more than the price of entry, yet the ticket price is important – to you, to your manager, and perhaps to you (if you are paying for your own ticket).

Intranet Now was founded in 2014 to serve the intranet community (however you might define it).

Brian and I are always considering the value of the day – we want what we offer to be relevant and useful to you and directly influence your approach to intranets within the wider workplace.

But there’s another ‘value’ that I’ve been forced to confront and I’m not comfortable doing so. Your value.

The first thing the majority of potential sponsors have asked me is, who’s coming?

‘Who’s coming’  is a loaded question. In the first year, I just flatly said ‘I have no idea, we only started selling tickets yesterday’ – I was kinda freaked out that marketing managers wanted me to predict exactly who would come to our first event.

I’ve got better at answering this question, because we now have two years worth of participant information, and so I can tell potential sponsors which companies have been represented. You’ll note that I don’t give out names or email addresses. Just job titles and companies.

What I’ve learnt is that potential sponsors judge the value of our conference on the value of the attendees. Specifically, they want decision makers in the room. Ideally, they’d like CEOs and CIOs of national companies. If not C-Suite members, then Senior Communication Managers / Directors or IT Managers.

If you’re a comms channel manager or intranet manager (as I have been in my career) then your participation in the conference is deemed less valuable.

My job, when speaking with potential sponsors, has been to ‘sell’ you as much as the marketing potential of the conference. This has not sat right with me.

I did hit on a great phrase the other week that made me feel a little better. When explaining who I imagined would make up the audience, I had to admit that I did not expect Multinational CIOs. I said that I expected people from Comms, HR, KM and Info Man backgrounds, and intranet managers and digital team members from every level. I went on to say that Senior Comms Managers would not make intranet platform or agency decisions without consulting their intranet manager. Even if IT has the budget and remit to improve or replace the intranet, it’s the intranet manager who has to translate the IT-speak into Business-speak. The intranet manager builds bridges between so many silos – the intranet manager has to be the trusted advisor to senior managers and budget holders.

And this is why I’m under pressure to increase ticket prices – if we double our prices, we’ll ‘naturally’ exclude intranet managers and comms / HR people from small organisations. If we triple our prices, we’ll naturally position ourselves as a ‘serious’ event for ‘serious decision makers’.

I’ve told potential sponsors that the Intranet Now conference will only exist if companies think it’s useful. Intranet Now does not have to be a success. We absolutely rely on sponsors – we cannot, cannot, put on such a large, swish event on ticket prices alone. Not without charging you, the community member a rather more ‘serious’ amount. While Intranet Now must become financially sustainable, Brian and I strongly believe that it must serve the intranet community and so we mean to keep our ticket prices low.

So here’s the ‘call to action’ – get involved: Your participation validates our event, and demonstrates the networking, community, and educational value of our conference. Consider bringing a colleague – to get the maximum out of the day you’ll want to talk with other participants, but when it comes to putting ideas into action, there’s something amazing about having a colleague to digest points and make concrete plans with.

Your involvement strengthens the community – think about the last time you met someone with a similar role to yourself. When was the last time someone discussed the complexities of digital comms and the vagaries of stakeholder requirements? When was the last time you had coffee with someone a little more experienced than yourself?

Your involvement creates the learning on the day – we have a fantastic line up of speakers, but we need more in-house practitioners who can share their ‘how we did this’ story. We’re looking for organisations that are using their intranet create and support business impact – change initiatives, marketing pivots, employee engagement programmes. If you’re involved with the intranet in some way, you’re probably involved with a whole range of business matters. Share your top tips, your good practices, and your outcomes in a short ‘lightning talk’. Just 7 minutes on stage!

Intranet Now is on the 30th September 2016 it is the only independent UK conference created by and run for intranet and comms professionals.

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