Threadless.com is a t-shirt design community that has revolutionized how t-shirts are designed and made.  Historically designers would produce a t-shirt and the manufacturers would then market that t-shirt to the audience.  Threadless however have flipped things on their head.  They get the communities to design t-shirts, with those same communities voting on the designs they like the most.  Once the popular designs emerge, and therefore the demand for those shirts emerges, Threadless make and sell them.

It's similar in a way to X Factor and similar talent shows.  Rather than having an A&R man scout talented musicians and then attempt to promote them to an audience, the X Factor gets the audience to do the scouting for them, such that by the time the competition produces a winner the record company are fairly certain that the winner has a huge audience ready and willing to buy their records.

Ok, so how does this relate to event marketing?  Let me explain.  Traditionally event producers put together a schedule, sign up some speakers and then promote the event to their intended audience at a price they think they will pay given the fare on offer.

Lets say instead that we flip this model on its head. 

Step 1

You provide your community with a list of available speakers together with the fees they demand for speaking

Step 2

You ask your community to submit a lineup they would like to see given the prices involved (you can easily provide fixed costs for the venue + venue capacity)

Step 3

You then get your community to vote on each submitted event

By doing this you:

a) get an idea for the kind of events people actually want (ie you take the guess work out of it)
b) have a visible demand that have said they would be willing to buy tickets to this proposed event
c) gain good insight into possible future events around the 'losing' submissions

What are your thoughts?