White anchor. Striped backgroundWhen marketing and sales executives spend thousands of dollars to attend a conference, the last thing they want to do is get trapped in a boring sales pitch from a vendor.

That’s why we knew we had to do something different to get sales appointments with prospects at this year’s SiriusDecisions Summit in Nashville, Tennessee. As a show sponsor, we get the most value from our investment through setting up meetings between potential customers and our VPs of Sales and Marketing.

SiriusDecisions has a strict policy which prevents vendors from booking meeting space at the conference facility, so we had to get creative. (It’s a good thing that pushing the envelope at conferences is our specialty.)

Don’t miss the boat…on advocacy

We discovered that the hotel hosting the conference (the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Centre) had a $10 riverboat tour running through a scenic 4.5-acre indoor garden. We reached out the Delta River Boats team and asked if we could rent their boats to conduct meetings. They had never fielded a request like ours before, but they were intrigued by the idea and agreed to work with us.

The last step was convincing my team at Influitive. I pitched the idea to our VP of Sales, Emmanuelle Skala, who gave me the thumbs-up with one condition: that we play up the “boat” theme as much as possible.

It was time to set sail!

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To drive meetings, we sent out an email from Emmanuelle, with the Subject Line “Don’t miss the boat at Sirius”. Here’s the full copy:


The email drove people to a landing page that asked for their preferred meeting date. After that, a member of our SDR team followed up by email to book the meeting.


But we knew we needed more than just a gimmick to make these meetings worthwhile.

Delivering value through advocacy assessments

We didn’t want to trap people on a boat and hope the novelty alone would convince them that we’re great marketers with an awesome product. We wanted to deliver real value to our prospects.

That’s why we created personalized advocacy assessments that broke down the online reputation of every company we met with. In each assessment we analyzed:

  • Online conversations about the brand (ex: Quora forum discussions)
  • Software reviews on 3rd party websites (like G2 Crowd, TrustRadius, GetApp)
  • Case studies, blogs, and testimonials featuring customer advocates
  • Interactions in their communities
  • Their engaged social media followers (LinkedIn, Twitter)

We provided the printed assessments to the prospect at the beginning of the meeting to show them how advocate marketing can impact their business.

Our Results

Our initial email campaign had an incredible click through rate of 5.7%—the highest for any email campaign we’ve sent so far in 2015.

We were able to conduct 27 boat meetings at SiriusDecisions and have meaningful discussions about how advocate marketing could support marketing and sales initiatives. Many were surprised by the findings in our analysis, as they hadn’t been exposed to these parts of their buyer’s journey before.

Not only were attendees at SiriusDecisions appreciative of the change of scenery, but our valuable analysis made a ride down the river as helpful as it was enjoyable. (Plus, we also had a cooler filled with cold drinks to keep our attendees refreshed.)

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Influitive’s VP of Marketing, Jim Williams, enjoys a ride with a prospect.

And that’s how—with a little bit of creativity—we secured more sales appointments at a conference.

We hope to see you next year in Nashville for SiriusDecisions Summit 2016!