Do your long-time attendees feel like first dates?

Steve Yastrow makes an interesting analogy on the TomPeters blog:

In the 2004 movie, 50 First Dates, Henry (Adam Sandler) and Lucy (Drew Barrymore) meet, have a great first date, and plan to see each other again. But the next day Lucy acts like she doesn't know Henry. Lucy has a short-term memory loss problem, so each day is a new "first date," in which Henry has to attempt to rekindle the relationship.

Most people think of 50 First Dates as a romantic comedy. Not me. I think it is a business movie. Isn't this what it is like to do business with most companies?

And, I would add, isn't this like registering for all too many conferences? You get the generic brochure, the generic Web portal, etc. -- where's the appreciation for your loyal attendance all these years? Where's the attention paid to your needs and wants? If you ever needed a prod to get started in segmenting your prospective attendee base to personalize your offerings, especially to your returning attendees and your first-timers, consider yourself prodded.

First dates are hard enough the first time you have them. To have to go through it year after year just makes you feel like the sponsoring organization just doesn't care. And I'm pretty sure that's not the message you want to send.

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