In my conversations with technology and service providers here at Gartner, it’s clear that user conferences are a critical element of their marketing planning. However, many product marketers are unsure of how to best leverage the conference to ensure that the attendees find value while still driving demand for the business.
User conferences involve staff commitment and time from across the organization and can be time consuming to execute. Team members are usually pulled in from across the organization and have “day jobs” to attend to as well. This can stretch the team’s bandwidth as the event nears. However, technology buyers tell us that user groups and events make them feel valued by the provider and peer interactions are influential when making purchase decisions. As you distribute responsibilities and approach your user conference objectives, you’ll want to maximize the time invested in planning and execution.
A successful customer user conference maximizes investment and drives value before, during and after the event. Many clients tell us that their follow up strategy after the event consists of outbound calling or email follow up to the attendees that were present at the event. This presents a missed opportunity to take advantage of the content created to support the event (visuals, presentations, customer presence) by repurposing it for future overall demand-generation programs, customer reference libraries and sales enablement tools.
Leveraging the content created for the conference in future campaigns and content creation is a great way to ensure that you’re getting the full value of the time invested in the event. For example, consider the client that hired a visual note taker to showcase their keynotes and breakout sessions. While attendees took photos of these graphic representations of the sessions and shared them on social media during the event, the conference host leveraged these after the event by using them as header images in relevant email campaigns and blog posts, in addition to using them as the visual backdrop for the customer testimonial videos. These customer testimonial videos are another example of maximizing your investment. Technology buyers indicate their peers are a primary source when making buying decisions. Branded case studies and testimonials are high value content for your prospects. Prior to the event, engage with your customer speakers and arrange to capture video of their sessions or record an interview with them, to use in future marketing and reference programs.
These are just a few examples of how you can deliver a valuable conference to your customer base while also driving business growth. If you are a Gartner client, I’m happy to have a conversation about additional ways to prepare and maximize the investment in your user conference. Alternatively, you can you read recent research we’ve published on generating customer engagement before, during and after your user conference.