There’s nothing quite like the rush of energy you get from hosting a live event. We just came back from Quick Base EMPOWER18, our annual user conference in Austin, which included 750+ customers and partner attendees. Everyone is super fired up, but especially our customers.
I wanted to share an inside look at how we crafted such a memorable experience for customers at our conference.
I like to think of a customer community as a virtual hotel or even a virtual restaurant, where the experience and enjoyment of our customers is paramount. When you understand this central concept, you can unleash the tactics you need to be a hospitality-minded and customer-obsessed advocacy pro.
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Read on to learn my top 6 tips for serving up tasty events. Bon appetit!
1) Nurture your advocates continuously—not just before big events
The key thing to understand is that relationships matter more than anything else. Our customer community, Quick Base Heroes, allows us to directly listen, engage, and reward customers for deepening their relationship with us. Having a tool like Influitive to collect and manage that customer data is vital.
A peek inside Quick Base Heroes
Our continual strategy of engaging our advocates formed the foundation for an unforgettable event. When advocates have a history of engagement with your brand, employees, and customers, they will be primed to bring their energy and enthusiasm to your live event.
With this foundation in place, you can use your event to bring these relationships to the next level. Online engagement is great, but nothing compares to the deep and trusting relationships that are formed when you can have amazing conversations in-person.
2) Make their conference experience memorable with personal touches
As an advocate marketer, you are the concierge and maître d’ of the conference. So it’s your job to know everyone’s story and help serve them accordingly. You can offer suggestions of fun things to do in the conference’s host city, through themed challenges to get them excited before the event.
We designed a whole Experience in our community that was designed to drive pre-conference engagement.
This Experience featured tons of fun challenges, including:
Quizzes about the city of Austin
Local food recommendations
Sneak peaks behind the scenes of conference planning
Opportunities for curated introductions to other advocates
The “Road to Austin” pre-conference Experience
I’d also meet with advocates one-on-one during the conference to do deep dives into their challenges, and brainstorm how to solve them. I’d also broker connections at the social parties at night, and make sure they know the best place for a BBQ dinner out on the town (La BBQ in case you were wondering).
Another thing you can do to make your customers feel welcome is to study up on them before meeting with them. That way, you can start off the conversation with a reference to something they wrote on LinkedIn, or a hobby you noticed from their social media. This personalized touch makes people feel special, and helps spark a genuine connection right away.
Only the best BBQ in Austin for our advocates
3) Listen deeply so you can build bridges between customers
It’s one thing to manage an online community, but it’s another to manage social cues in live conversations. Make sure that you’re actively listening to your customers and thinking three steps ahead of how you can help.
Showcase that you remember a response they contributed to the community from months ago to prove that their input doesn’t go unnoticed. We listen to all input so we can make connections that help solve their challenges, shepherd them to curated opportunities, and drive value for them as soon as possible.
Ahead of the conference, we asked our customers to share a challenge they’re currently facing and what types of folks they’re looking to meet at EMPOWER. This info allowed us to play a bit of matchmaking to set up solid in-person connections amongst their peers. We even offered to pay for their coffee with gift cards when they set up a meeting.
Encouraging your advocates to network is as simple as a Starbucks card
4) Get your swag on to motivate and reward customers
Advocates are all driven to engage by a different set of motivators. Some hope to gain insider access to your organization. Others might want to spotlight their successes in front of their peers. Most advocates can agree though that they’re motivated by awesome free stuff.
This year we designed version 2.0 of our Sock Club socks with a cool argyle pattern, and it was a huge hit. Make sure you have the talk of the town swag at your event and tie your key initiatives to your giveaways.
Quick Base swag used to reward customers
Keep swag items simple and practical—aim for objects that are useful to your customers. Better to spend money on something that they’ll enjoy, rather than something that will be tossed in the trash or handed off to a relative.
5) Surprise and delight your customers when they least expect it
Catch people off guard with something to show that they’re a top priority and you’re focused on their success. Whether it’s a unique perk, special seating, or a thoughtful gift, customers will really appreciate a reminder that you’re there to support them.
In the digital age, sometimes the most impressive gesture is simply sharing a personal handwritten note and a box of goodies to brighten their day.
Plus, you never know when customers might return the favor one day and surprise you—like when one of our advocates recently penned their own “Ode to Quick Base”!
A real poem penned by one of our Quick Base Heroes
6) Always provide more value to customers than you seek back
Customer advocacy shouldn’t be a transactional relationship. Remember to position your “asks” in terms of the benefits to the customer. After all, well-nurtured advocates love to spread the word for you, whether it’s a testimonial or speaking on stage at the event.
We help advocates raise their profiles within their organizations, or as I like to tell them: “Let’s make you look like a rockstar!” Help your advocates leverage whatever assets you create together to support their career goals.
If you do this, you’ll be able to build and scale your community with advocates that trust the process. They’ll want to participate if they understand the clear value of the program and can find something that speaks to them in the community.
Why advocates are central to the success of our conference and beyond
If you’ve been nurturing your advocates regularly, you’ll find live conferences to be the ideal opportunity to deepen this relationship.
At Quick Base, advocacy is a 24/7 practice that is woven into the fabric of the customer experience. Events are an extra special opportunity on top of this to show advocates how valued they are.
When we invest in making advocates feel special, they are eager to spread the word far and wide. And that’s a recipe for success!