Entrepreneurs Conference 2012- 10 Reasons It Went Wrong?

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Entrepreneurs Conference 2012- 10 Reasons It Went Wrong?

Well, how did you find it?

Well I’ve been following the Twitter comments the last few days and decided to collate a few of the many tweets that have been written at #Ents2012. I did this on day and you can see those tweets on this post here. I gave up as after that as it just got worse and worse. I’d left by then.

So I decided to spend a few more minutes thinking of the Entrepreneurs Conference 2012 to prevent others from going through the same level of frustration that I did. I’m not one to be negative- I’m a glass half full sort of guy, and I think I’ve only ever written one blog reflecting on a companies poor service. I don’t tweet and slag people off, and I’m one who has grace for things that fail. I’ve experienced challenges and I know they help shape us. But it does feel that feedback hasn’t been listened to from previous years and friends like Amanda Hill Amanda Hill have also had bad experiences on previous occasions. I hope next time future guests get a chance to read some of the blogs and comments around. But more importantly, perhaps the organisers will take a different approach next time.

But as with all mistakes and failures, here are the lessons we can learn and the 10 Reasons the Entrepreneurs Conference 2012 wasn’t enjoyable for me.

1. Didn’t provide a Programme
The organisers didn’t provide a programme or timings as to when people we’re on. When do you ever go to a conference where they don’t give a programme? Made you wait through all the poor content to get to something you might actually want to hear. This led to a hashtag #publishtheprogramme as people felt they weren’t being treated with respect. I gave the benefit of the doubt in my previous blog post, but I’m pretty sure it was part of their sales strategy to keep people in the room.

2. 10% Content. 90% Sales
People had to sit through so many sales presentations of people trying to sell them content. They had come to learn but ended up being sold to in an oilsnake manner. Give away good content, wow your audience, let them fall in love with you and be moved by what you have to offer and they’ll be happy to buy. You don’t need to do slimy sales.

3. Manipulative Sales Pitches
It felt like people were selling something that wasn’t tangible or true. £3,000 to get a chance to go a training conference that will earn you £50,000 when you deliver three talks. I literally saw hundreds of people in a frenzy being marched to tables to sign up and register to a few days training of hype and emotional manipulation.

4. Some People Paid. Lots Got Free Tickets
Those who paid were pretty angry. Pretty obvious why. Some bought tickets through Groupon. Some registered for free via the site. There were lots of people who paid for seats closer to the stage. I was glad to be seated nearer the back, as it was a shorter walk back out ;)

5. Waste of time
I left after 2 hours, and in that two hours, I laughed in pain a lot. I found it a little funny, and I spent most of it on my phone reading and tweeting. Entertaining people there. If I’d known what the content was going to be, I wouldn’t have gone at all. So much time wasted for so many people.

6. They lured people in with big name speakers.
Bill Clinton is one of the biggest name. And by all accounts he was excellent. As they never stated when he was speaking, people were left hanging on the whole time, wanting a glimpse. They sent misleading information about when he was on, and even sent these tasteless texts as if they were coming from him. I was informed he was on at 1pm today, and I’d wanted to hear him speak. But I couldn’t for the life of me justify subjecting myself to go through that ordeal to hear him speak. And true to form once they’d locked the doors he came out at 3.30pm.

7. Staff weren’t available to complain to
I called to complain and get further information, but there was no response. I asked to speak to a manager and there was no one present. I felt sorry for the customer service staff who were signing people in. They had been given a line to share about not being able to give out programmes as they were subject to change. Yep. That happens sometimes, so publish the changes.

8. There were no good networking opportunities
What an incredible opportunity to connect people who want to create something together around interests. Such a shame that this opportunity was wasted. We need more entrepreneurs doing incredible things and alas we lost this chance.

9. Their social media team couldn’t connect
They retweeted all the positive comments and ignored all the negative ones. Problem was it looked like a joke as the ratio of negative to positive was 10 to 1. Would have been better if they’d put their hands up and said: ‘OK we got it wrong. We’ve listened to your feedback. Next year it will different.’ Instead they sent out misrepresentative positive comments, which gave you a flavour for what they think of receiving feedback.

10. Lack of authenticity
Simple word. It had none. They’ve lost me as a customer for life, and I will be informing everyone I see not to go there however good the speakers. Not out of being malicious, I just don’t want people to waste their precious time.

I’m sure they will be back again, and I’m sure based on previous years experiences of others it will be the same. If you fancy leaving a comment, please do so, drop in Entrepreneurs Conference 2012 and hopefully, perhaps possibly the organisers will listen to the feedback. Organisers, I’d written a blog post that you may enjoy:

The 5 Game Changing Benefits For Businesses Who Know How To Listen

So question for you… How did you find the Entrepreneurs Conference 2012? Do let us know. Naturally the comical comments are the most enjoyable.

  • http://twitter.com/1FourMedia Keith McGuinness

    I was going nuts listening to Marco over lunchtime today but being able to share my frustration on Twitter with others made my day, well that and listening to the mercurial Bill Clinton. I hate to say it but getting the chance to hear him speak for an hour or so was probably worth the rubbish sales pitch earlier. Although I may have felt differently if I’d spent all week at the event and spent £100+ for the pleasure (I got the Groupon discount).

    • http://www.calebstorkey.net Caleb Storkey

      Thanks Keith- yes I’d have loved to hear Clinton. Without doubt the Twitter comments really made me laugh…

  • http://twitter.com/markrayson Mark Rayson

    1- Annoying but somewhat understandable. Just a programme with biographies and what day they are talking on might have been nice, heck I’d have probably paid a couple of quid for it. They tried to create the illusion Clinton could be at any time so make sure you turn up, but everyone knew when the gala dinner was so it was pretty obvious he would be speaking Friday afternoon.

    2- Agree was a little frustrating at times. I didn’t mind those who talked about entrepreneurship for their allotted time then in the last 10 mins tried to sell, but I didn’t appreciate those who used the whole time to demo their products they are trying to sell.
    3- I just took it all with a pinch of salt. “who want’s to earn £100k next month?”, well yeah who doesn’t.
    4- Not overly fussed about this one. When I pay £40 to get a train home I know there are people in the carriage who probably paid £6 for booking early. When I go to the football, I might pay £25 for a seat but the guy a few seats to my left paid £18. It’s unfortunate but the way things work.
    5- Some talks felt like a waste and it was frustrating there wasn’t an opportunity to do much else. How about a designated networking area for people to meet up? I spent a lot of time refreshing #ents2012 to pass some time during sales pitches.
    6- Bill was always going to sell tickets, the others were no where near strong enough to headline. What was annoying was Bear Grylls got the graveyard slot last thing on the Friday night. He was way more worthy of a better spot. Headline Thursday (and tell people he’s speaking Thursday but don’t say a time) or have him before Clinton when the room is packed. There were only a few hundred there for him and it was a shame.8- Agree. As mentioned above a designated area, or what about an announcement promoting a place for people to go at the end of the day. 9- Agree but it’s easy to understand why they would do this.10- I don’t often go to these sort of events, but I managed to just focus on the important talks and zone out from the sales. There were some good things about this event, but the things that weren’t great unfortunately managed to overshadow them. 

    • http://www.calebstorkey.net Caleb Storkey

      Thanks for your detailed response Mark. 

      I agree with you on the Bear Grylls slot. I heard he was brilliant and it’s a shame the numbers didn’t get to hear him. I would have enjoyed hearing him speak…

  • http://twitter.com/Glenda_S Glenda Shawley

    I’m not sure that it is fair to comment so negatively if you only spent two hours at a 4 day conference. I went on two days and got some useful information as well as the chance of a life time to hear Bill Clinton speak. I know they didn’t say precisely when he would be there but it was fairly obvious from the marketing that it would be Friday.

    These events are always full of snake oil salesmen but that is how they are funded. Many of the speakers pay for the privilege of speaking and give a percentage of their sales to the organisers. Given that most of us have never heard of some of them nor have any interest in their topic we would be unlikely to be in the room for them if we were told what the programme was. Having said that I totally agree that I hate not knowing the programme and feel it is insulting to my time. I just go prepared to do some work when the sale pitches start and go for what I can get out of the event.

    It is fairly obvious when high volumes of free tickets are available that we are going to be sold to, what surprises me is how many people buy repeatedly! I went to the Gala dinner and there were some very satisfied customers of some of the speakers there. It may not be for you but it is for some people. I would just suggest that if an event is free for many people you may want to think twice about signing up in the future.

    I don’t think we can expect BlakPearl to change their format anytime soon unless the sales don’t stack up. However I hope that they will think about creating more networking opportunities as suggested.

    • http://www.calebstorkey.net Caleb Storkey

      Hi Glenda. Fair comment. I recognise that my direct experience of the event was  limited, although my conclusions came from both my own (very long) 2 hours experience and seeing the ongoing experiences of others through tweets and following the hashtag. However, I do know that people enjoyed some of the speakers, and everyone seemed to love Clinton. 

      I agree when there are free tickets you can expect a different type of content- my biggest criticism would be around the lack of programme.

      It’s a shame BlakPearl go with this format. I’m sure there would be ways to get the numbers to stack up, yet still have incredible content, without the ongoing sales pitches. They may have lasted till now, but I don’t think this approach will work much longer when they are competing with so many other conferences who are willing to put together good content. 

      Thanks for your comments and your reflections ;)

  • Ariel Katz

    Thanks for your post.  I wanted to write up something about the event but I stayed all four days and am too burnt out from all the hard sell, so I am relieved that you left after 2 hours and had enough strength left to write about it.  You missed the point about the valuable “Entrepreneurs toolkit” we were promised would differentiate the payers from the free ticket holders.  The bag with a few of items for the recycling bin was a huge insult as well as bait and switch.  I actually was drawn by this promise.  I figured for the £17 groupon ticket I was getting something even if the conference wasn’t up to much, which I surmised it wouldn’t be from some internet research.  I stuck the majority of the conference out – I had already taken the days off work and decided to look at it as an ethnographic study.  I wish I understood how to use twitter and could entertain myself with the tweets, but I only managed to get the cleaned up ones from the organisers!  The funniest thing was on the first day they were projecting the tweets live in the corridor! That was lots of fun to see, but by the second day they got smart and just projected the previous day’s sanitized tweets.  The whole thing was an experience I will NEVER FORGET!  But when I tried to do the SECRETS that they told us on the internet to make my millions, the links didn’t work :-( surprise surprise).  Well I have committed to making a change in my life, to set goals, be laser focused and have a huge WHY motivating me.  I have a lot of money to earn back after 4 days of not working. 

  • Raymond Aaron

    Hello.  My name is Raymond Aaron.  I was the Master of Ceremonies for the event.  I do admit that there were some flaws, but folks, this was a giant event and there may have been some flaws. But the promoter Vishal is a young man of only 25 years and I say CHEERS to him for pulling off such a huge event.  He will learn his lessons and get better.

    • http://www.calebstorkey.net Caleb Storkey

      Thanks for your reply Raymond.

      Vishal did indeed gather lots of people to the event and enabled lots of great speakers. That is no easy task and will have required a huge amount of energy and time, which is all the more admirable based on his age in doing this.

      He should be very proud of that achievement, and as you say, I’m sure he will learn and grow through the experiences.

      I hope this event changes shape to give more to its attendees and Vishal brings people with him in that direction. If it does, I’m sure it will be a resounding long term success, and I wish him all the very best with it.

      Thanks again for your comment.

    • http://twitter.com/nhamptonstudent Northampton Student

       Thanks for taking the time to Reply Raymond, I saw at times for you it was a bit tough on stage but you handled it very well and with good humour.

      I was at Vishal’s Business 2012 and I know they can create an outstanding event, this has a way to go but I think there is a great chance to build this (#ents2013) into a great brand shaped by the customers (us) with the leverage of Vishal etc.

      There were some stand out presentations and some who frankly were embarrassing, but, you only learn from getting stuff wrong at times :)

      All in all – a great effort and result.

  • entrepreneurs2012

    As a former employee I could give you more than 10 reasons as to why it went wrong, even though there was massive potential for it to be an absolutely amazing event. There is a lot to be said for corporate greed.