Creating a great event is like creating a great product. You need to have empathy for your user (attendee) and create delightful experiences that satisfy needs and make them come back for more.
Companies innately “get this.” It’s not surprising that some of the best product companies also produce great events. Two companies that come to mind are Apple and Salesforce. Let’s consider ten similarities between product managers and event managers.
1) Your job is defined by one thing.
Product managers are defined by their products. Event managers are defined by their events. I used plurals there, but more often than not, it’s singular: a product manager handles a product and an event manager handles an event. Most other jobs lack this singular focus.
2) Determining “market fit” is critical.
Before designing a product, a product manager needs to build the business case around market fit: will there be people willing to write a check for my product – and if so, how many are there and what’s the average selling price? Event managers need to follow a similar exercise, to determine whether people will attend the event and (in some cases) whether companies will pay for sponsorship.
3) Your work is determined and defined by a schedule.
Image source: User sadiediane on flickr.
Yes, we all tend to work from a schedule. But product managers and event managers run against a schedule 12 months out of the year. For products, the schedule is built around the current release. For events, it’s built around the current event. After those “ship,” a new schedule is built for the next release or for next year’s event.
4) You apply feedback to make the next one better.
Effective product and event managers identify lessons learned and apply those lessons to make the next release or the next event even better.
5) Empathy for the user is a requirement.
Product managers need to put themselves in the shoes of their target customer. Event managers need to do the same with their target attendees. Without a sufficient amount of empathy, great products and great events will be merely good.
6) You need good marketing to succeed.
Image source: Boston Public Library on flickr.
A product never achieves greatness until it’s adopted by the market. An event can’t be great if no one attends. In both cases, marketing is needed to drive awareness and adoption. Without marketing, products may cease to have customers and events may cease to have attendees and sponsors.
7) You have a job that never ends.
I marvel at 24 hour news networks like CNN. Yes, I know that not all programming is truly “live,” but still, there’s programming around the clock. It’s similar for product managers and event managers: rarely is there downtime, because you’re always on to the next release or the next event.
8) The focus of your job is experiential.
So there’s my fancy term for this post, experiential. For events, this is obvious. And it’s true for products: craft a great user experience and you create great products (and events).
9) You’re required to lead multi-disciplinary teams across the finish line.
Image source: User farmerdave8n on flickr.
Product managers and event managers need to lead. You’ll work with people across numerous functions and assorted personalities. In the end, you have a single goal: bring the team across the finish line to a great product release or event.
10) You need to make an impact to achieve customer loyalty.
Want customers to renew their SaaS subscription or purchase your next device? Want attendees to return to your event next year? It’s simple: satisfy their needs and make an impact.
It’s good to see that ’empathy’ made it on the list of skills & characteristics required in event management and product development. To me, having the ability to be empathetic, is one of the key skills leaders in any field need to have in order to be successful.
Founder of the Corporate Event Management Blog
Simone: agreed. I did a related post about applying design thinking to meetings and events: https://allvirtual.me/2013/02/11/design-thinking-for-meetings-and-events/ – one of the foundations for design thinking is empathy for the customer.
I will take a look. I have recently attended an event on empathy in business, and related the idea of empathy to event management: http://www.monaseventdosanddonts.com/empathy-in-event-management/
Would be interested in your assessment!