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When and How to Host Your First User Conference with Qualia

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When and How to Host Your First User Conference with Qualia

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When and How to Host  Your First User Conference with Qualia
When and How to Host  Your First User Conference with Qualia
When and How to Host  Your First User Conference with Qualia
When and How to Host  Your First User Conference with Qualia
When and How to Host  Your First User Conference with Qualia
When and How to Host  Your First User Conference with Qualia
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Editor's Notes

  1. Many will start with “how” and “when”. In reality though, you need to first understand “why” you even want to host a conference. That will drive every decision you make.
  2. Notes: Introduce the concept of a user conference. For B2B marketers – Getting your users together to: Fostering customer relationships and brand loyalty, and web of relationships. Engage deeply on the product, get feedback, exeuctive meetings, upsells, partner ecosystems. Requires Careful timing and planning and looking around corners. Benefits: Touch points , alignment, content generation. Realize that the event is so much more than the day of, it’s about the months leading up to it and the months after. If you remember one thing: But most importantly, remember, it’s not about you. It’s about them. Your conference can become a self perpeturating platform with momentum of its own. Think about SaaStr, Dreamforce, etc. It’s hard to imagine, they can become brands. “What’s the most important part of a joke? ~Steve Martin”
  3. Identifying the Right Time for Your First User Conference “Catching a Wave” (Anecdote if anyone has kids and putting them to bed. Too early, crash. Too late, crash) Customer Base Analysis Evaluate your customer base's size, diversity, and engagement level. Identify key segments or groups that are actively using your product or services. Consider feedback, usage patterns, and customer success stories. Product Maturity and Innovation Assess your product's maturity and the availability of new features or updates. Aim for a point where your product offers significant value to users, warranting a dedicated event. (We held off for a few 3 years. It turned out to work out for us) Industry Trends and Competitor Analysis Research industry trends and competitive landscape to spot gaps in conference offerings. Look for opportunities to differentiate your conference by addressing unique pain points or showcasing innovations. High end was missing. So we avoid standard conference spaces. Van Zandt, ACL The bigger you get though the more you’re constained. We modified this year for a Leaders Lab and a Workshop. Time of year matters. Does your industry have lots of other events? You want to avoid competing if possible since they can be your biggest supporters (i.e. associations) Timing may not always be intuitively right, and perhaps there are lighter weight ways to go: Testing Smaller events. Events at other industry events. (Alta one event we hosted) Luck First one was Jan 2020. I’d never recommend a Jan event… tough for holidays cause that’s when the heat is on. But it worked out for us b/c covid would have had it canceled.
  4. Planning a Successful User Conference There are a lot of shiney objects. A lot of people will have opinions. Remember, it’s about your audience. You’re putting on an educational show. Define Clear Objectives Outline specific goals, such as strengthening customer relationships, educating users, and generating leads (net new? Upsell? bd ?). Take the time to write a foundational brief. This will anchor your team. In it, include your theme, your goals, your key stakeholders. This will help rally your team. It’s your Event Constitution. Budgeting and Resources Estimate costs for venue, logistics, marketing, speakers, and materials. Allocate resources based on the event's scale and your company's financial capacity. Team- internal and external resources It’s easy enough if you determine how much you’re willing to spend per head $1000/head is a benchmark. Some going lower/higher. Determine what’s important: We’ve spent lots on speakers in the past, but our research shows that that’s not actually whats drawing our users in. For free online it was, but most aren’t getting on a plane for that. So if you’re on a budget, don’t worry. Allocate elsewhere. (Show chart of value of online v in person for fores- in person about the networking and learning) Virtual -- more value on Famous Speaker (50% v 10%) and “thought leadership” (87% v 55%) In person - more value on Qualia product experts (55% v 20%) and networking (68% v 50%) Event Format and Content Pizza in Dallas story. We went for thought leadrship and in pre conference planning kept getting pushback that people wanted training. Decide on conference duration, format (virtual, hybrid, or in-person), and session types (keynotes, workshops, panels). We opted for creating a variety to meet various learning styles. Key here is knowing who’s attending. Develop a compelling agenda that balances educational sessions, networking opportunities, and entertainment. Collaborate / Innovate / Operate. Now, we sprinkle operate throughout.
  5. Executing a Successful User Conference is About Getting the Most Impact the Most Efficiently Appoint captains of areas DG Content team - Speakers Sponsors Marketing and Promotion Develop a multi-channel marketing strategy to create buzz and attract attendees. Leverage social media, email campaigns, and partnerships to reach your target audience. Seamless Logistics Campaigns: Curate Engaging Content, Speakers and Experiences. Use as an anchor to build an integrated campaign around. It will feed your engine of integrated marketing for the months before and after. Pull from your community - make them part of the experience. Curate a mix of industry experts, company leaders, and customer advocates as speakers. Craft engaging and valuable content that addresses user pain points and offers actionable insights. Host content brainstorms to get folks heard and gather the goals, themes, etc. Experiences Ways to engage. Activate advocates. Lego activations. Ongoing Communications - it’s logistics Coordinate event logistics, including venue selection, catering, technology setup, and registration. Ensure a smooth attendee experience with clear communication and accessible resources. This goes for internal teams, external guests, vendors, etc. You’re building momentum: Send update emails and notices even to those that purchased Treat your vendors REALLY well Game prep and Day of Dry runs matter, make everyone do it. Have an agile master of ceremonies (first year our keynote showed late, I got on stage and killed time and no one knew)
  6. Post-Conference Follow-Up and Evaluation Gather Feedback Send post-event surveys to attendees for insights on what worked well and areas for improvement. Use feedback to refine future user conferences and enhance attendee satisfaction. We like to ask: How likely are you to attend again Ways to improve Analyze Results Measure the success of your user conference against predefined objectives. Track metrics like attendance, lead generation, customer engagement, and post-event sales. Upsell, dashboards, costs, allocation of budget. Total existing and potential pipeline in attendance Continuation and Future Planning Determine whether the event was successful enough to warrant future conferences. Plan ahead for subsequent conferences by incorporating lessons learned and adapting to evolving customer needs. Good spaces book up quickly. Decide if you’ll move around cities or host in the same location. Make the results easy to find. Your future self will thank you.
  7. Year 1 you prove you can do it. People will be skeptical. Year 2 you’ll get some repeat folks and start to build a following. You now have a track record. Year 3 an ecosystem will develop if you’ve done it well where you start to switch from organizing everything to being a platform to provide opportunities for others to do side pocket experiences.
  8. It’s about your audience: Identifying the Right Time for Your First User Conference Establish focus Include your stakeholders Planning a Successful User Conference Get the most out of your event Your logistics will help you get more impact and be more efficient Executing a Successful User Conference Go into your event with an eye towards the next one Post-Conference Follow-Up and Evaluation