As a SaaS start up of a certain size, the discussion of a user conference inevitably arose last January during our event calendar planning. While there are obvious benefits to a first-time conference — knowledge-sharing between customers, relationship building, ability for prospects to engage with happy clients — the amount of time and resources required to build a valuable event is no small undertaking.
We started our conference planning with one goal in mind: make our customers better marketers. We wanted to create an experience that would build a customer community through expert thought leadership keynotes, valuable hands-on training, and networking.
It’s been about four weeks since our conference ended and I’m happy to share that the Call Intelligence Summit was a success for our customers and our team. If you’re considering launching a user conference, check out my seven takeaways that will help make your event a success.
1. Identify the customers you want to attend and build the content around them.
At Invoca, we have a broad range of customers who each have unique use cases and needs for our platform. We took the time to identify our key categories and built the content around each type so every attendee would experience valuable, relevant content throughout the show.
2. Set the audience size and event format as early as possible.
This was a valuable lesson we learned the hard way. There are infinite ways to create an event for your customers. Is this an intimate executive outing or a chance to broadcast your message to everyone in the known marketing universe? When it’s your first conference, it can be anything you want it to be! And just because you choose one format doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate other elements under the overarching theme.
3. Plan the goal for attendance ratios.
Identify the number of customers, prospects, partners, analysts, and employees necessary to create the ideal mix of attendees. We find it’s important to have enough team members at the event so that attendees can easily interact with the team to learn more, ask questions, and feel a more personal connection with our company.
4. Create flexible outreach strategies for each customer and prospect type.
Now that you’ve identified who you’d like to attend, the next step is to get them to RSVP. A long term customer based a half hour away is different from a mid-funnel prospect based in New York. But just because they have different interests and engagement needs doesn’t mean you need to reinvent the wheel for each type of communication. Create a timeline of communications for each attendee type and a matrix of content that would be most compelling for each step.
5. Identify what roadmap features you want to highlight for your customers.
Your captive audience doesn’t want to spend three days being hammered with sales pitches. Instead, choose key pieces of the product that you think customers would benefit from learning about. Illustrate it in a way that allows marketers to picture how the tool would improve their daily life.
6. Create a plan to utilize content after the show.
All of that great content from the event can live on long after the last attendees has walked out the door. Repurpose all the great content you’ve created for the show. Turn breakout topics into printed case studies, take keynote content for an infographic, and you can even update your event site to include videos and photos. Don’t let your hard work go to waste!
7. Evaluate the performance of the event.
Give the team a few days to recover from the event but debrief with key stakeholders as soon as possible. Different groups in your organization will have different objectives to review (for example, your CMO probably doesn’t need your note that the chimes used to move folks in after the break need to be louder) so set up time with all stakeholders to share their valuable feedback. This feedback is valuable to making the next event even better!
Planning and executing Invoca’s first-ever Call Intelligence Summit was a very rewarding experience. We’ve learned a lot and can’t wait to put on another great show next year!