How to Save a Dying Event: The Event Mechanic! Checklist for Turning it Around

Pulling an event out of a death spiral is extremely difficult, requiring a full commitment that many times will fail. If you are determined to try, here’s what I would recommend:

1) If the problem is poor attendance, identify your previous ‘best’ customers and do everything possible to speak with them. After you’ve engaged with a number, the reasons for the downturn should become evident. Do everything you can to solve the problems they’ve identified and be open and transparent that you are taking those steps.

2) If the problem is with the event’s content, hire an industry expert to create new, timely, and relevant content and activities for your event. As above, ensure that you be open and transparent the actions you are taking.

3) Have an expert look at your marketing plan, together with the marketing analytics that measure your plan’s effectiveness, to get their assessment as to what you should add, subtract, or change. Also, be certain that you are targeting the right people in the market and have a genuine way of persuading them to attend your event. Communicate to your sponsors that you’re doing this analysis.

4) Understand the metrics that your exhibitors are using to determine the success of your show and ensure any changes being made are focused on delivering results that will be captured by those metrics. Again, be proactive about sharing these efforts with your exhibitors. 

5) Get personally involved in the event, and make sure the members of your staff are known by and accessible to attendees, speakers, and exhibitors. The days of running a show from the show office are over. Stamp your own personality on this effort.

6) Understand and engage with your sales staff regarding their selling efforts. Are they highlighting the key unique features of your event? Has their feedback from dealing with customer needs been incorporated into the new plan?

This is just a short list of the key steps I would take. Another consideration should be whether to change the name of an event to highlight its new and improved features. This should be done if the existing name is more strongly associated with negative rather than positive attributes in the minds of the key constituencies in the market.
The work to revive a struggling event is significant. Be intentional and all in with your actions, and you may be pleasantly surprised, both by what you learn and what you can use for your other, healthier events. Good Luck!

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