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The Secrets of Conference Finance

By Carla Nagel


Oct 14, 2014 - by Carla Nagel

Neuromarketing in Retail 2014


Last week we finished one of the best conferences we ever organized: Neuromarketing in Retail 2014. Neuromarketing is one of the most relevant topics for shopper marketers these days. The conference is a practical explanation of the latest brain research findings that are most relevant when it is your job to understand consumer buying behavior.

And … the audience loved it (have a look at Twitter – Hashtag #NEURRRO).



Because… A) You did not hear about it
or B) You think € 999 for a conference pass is too expensive

Huge challenge for us to solve these issues for you. And annoying too. Because in fact, it is in our best interest as the association for neuromarketing to share as much as possible and to welcome everyone with a professional interest in neuromarketing and not only those with bigger budgets for education.


Let me reveal the financial secret of the conference industry. Why is a conference so expensive? Above issues (you did not hear, you think it is too expensive) are related. Let me explain why.

1. Marketing budgets are huge. Did you know that of every 999 euro spent on the conference 350 euro goes to marketing? And what is the added value for a participant attending the event? Does he or she cares that we advertised in magazines, put effort in direct marketing and had banners on a wide range of related media?

2. Meetings are risky. I explained how risky meetings are during the closing ceremony of Neuromarketing in Retail 2014. I drafted a (very professional) chart, where the risk of both parties is explained (see below). On the horizontal axis you’ll find the number of days in a one-year campaign for a conference. On the vertical axis the amount of risk. The graph shows the risk for both participant and organizer.


Conferences & risks for organization and participants. Copyright by Carla Nagel :-)

The risk for the organization

365 days before the event, the risk of an organizer is about zero. The organization did not book any speakers, did not put any effort in terms of time by putting the meeting together, did not spend any euro on marketing and there are no contracts to be signed nor paid (or at least you will have good cancellation conditions at this stage). During the year the risk for the organizer increases, and the organizer needs to make an estimate on for instance number of delegates. Result: the participant pays for the open chairs in the room in all cases when the conference is not sold out.

The risk for the participant

For the participant the risk moves in the opposite direction. Signing up to a conference a year ahead seems almost ridiculous. At that point, participants do not know what their agenda will look like, if the topic of the conference is still relevant and they might not even be working for the same company as today.


But it is this gap in risk, combined with the huge marketing budgets, why conferences are expensive. On top of that, there is a misconception that FREE is the only future business model when it comes to information. Yes, I know that “information wants to be free”. But conferences are so much more than information standalone. An event is all about:

  • connecting with like-minded people
  • interacting with speakers and
  • focusing on a single topic, without the daily office disruptions.

And if you ever attended a FREE meeting, you must have realized that somebody is always paying the bill. You probably listened to commercial talks and during breaks consultants are chasing you with their business cards. Yes, it IS a model for conferences, but not the one I prefer for our high-quality meetings.


Thinking this over and we realize that the cooperation between two innovative organizations (POPAI and NMSBA) forces us to rethink the traditional conference model. We would like to start an experiment and if it works, maybe this will become the standard.


Are you disappointed you missed Neuromarketing in Retail? You now have the opportunity to sign up for only 100 Euro per person per day (and yes, all discounts apply, so we REALLY challenged our registration system on this!). From today until the event on October 15-16 2015, we will add 1 euro to the price every day for compensating the decreasing risk of the participant and the increasing risk for the organization. 

Review all prices for all memberships types during the year ».


We apply the same pricing system for our sponsor packages. Platinum sponsor packages start at €1150 (regular price 4800 Euro) and we add 10 euro per day. Gold start at 850 Euro and 8 euro is added every day until the conference, exhibition costs €699 and we will add 7 euro per day, bag inserts, logo sponsors and ad sponsors start at respectively €217,50  €517,50 and  €317,50 and every day the price is raised with 50 cents.

Review all sponsor packages according to the new pricing system »


Especially for those who attended Neuromarketing in Retail last year or last week, we would like to use your recommendation that this event is one of the most valuable events you have ever been to.

Although marketing is your job, I think you agree that in terms of Consumer Experience, marketing has the least value for the participants. And we are eager to reduce our marketing budgets with this new system. This is not possible without your recommendation. So please click one or more buttons below. I think the world should know and understand the black box of conference finance.

Thank you very much! And looking forward to welcome you all next year! Registration starts tomorrow!