Hosting a stellar B2B event is tough. Those few days can take months to plan. Resources are often limited and expectations are high. Securing cutting-edge speakers, creating meaningful networking opportunities and figuring out how to wow your attendees means there’s little time left to plan for how to capture your attendees’ enthusiasm to tell the story of the event.
ServiceNow, the enterprise cloud company and a leading provider of service management for every department in the enterprise, knows about executing a successful global event leveraging the power of their wide range of advocates (which includes IT, human resources, facilities, and field service professionals). In 2013, the company executed an integrated customer outreach program to mobilize their top customers before, during and after its annual Knowledge conference. The program powered all aspects of the event, and resulted in:
- Over 100 breakout sessions hosted, 93% of which were led by customers
- The highest number of submissions to the Innovation of the Year awards
- Over 75 customers deployed for press, analyst and video interviews
- Generated enough content—including videos, blogs, sound bites—for one year’s worth of leverage
- Launched first-ever Financial Analyst Day alongside the event, which included a panel of customers who went on to support many other aspects of the voice of the customer marketing from the show
Last year, ServiceNow’s achievements earned them a Best Advocate Marketing Award for Best Use of Advocates at An Event Award.
We asked Angela Burk, Senior Manager of Customer Advocacy at ServiceNow, to break down how you can leverage happy event attendees to boost your marketing efforts and fuel customer advocacy all year long.
Before the event
Have the right mix of outreach efforts.
The ServiceNow Voice of Customer program includes high-touch components, and a scalable social media and online community strategy that meets customers where they are already having conversations about ServiceNow, or the industry at large.
“They may be already advocating for you in ways you may not have been aware of,” says Angela. “Customers are advocating all the time and its our job as marketers to figure out how do we leverage the conversations that amplify our messages and reach.” Building a relationship with your advocates on each platform and harnessing their advocacy across channels should be an integral part of your strategy.
Involve your customers early.
Asking advocates to help shape your event before it happens can help increase attendance and make customers feel like their opinions are important. “Customers appreciate the relationship that comes from engaging with a voice of the customer program, whether it’s online or based on a more personal relationship,” says Angela. ServiceNow opens its call for speakers to customers early and promotes the session, and its content, across multiple networks.
During the event
Put advocates in the spotlight.
In everything you do, Angela recommends focusing on how you can make your advocates—and all the great work they do with your products—shine. “Customers love the accolades and promotional opportunities you can give them that raise their own personal brand and profile among their peers.” Helping them stand out at an industry event out is one of the most powerful ways to say ‘thank you’ and build a strong relationship with them.
Extract customer stories.
Capturing customer excitement while they’re at your event can pay content marketing dividends all year long. At Knowledge 2013, ServiceNow interviewed advocates on video, asking them questions about the product and industry at large, which they used for blog posts, interviews, promotional video snippets, and topical video montages. These assets were also repurposed for sales enablement. “It’s the gift that keeps on giving,” says Angela.
After the event
Plan for next year
Angela recommends using the content you generated at the event to promote next year’s event. For example, you can use customer quotes for banners or publish promotional videos on the website. “It’s all part of our ‘create once, use many times’ strategy that saves time and effort on content creation, while shining the light on our advocates all year round.”
Leverage your new relationships
A well-executed event is an advocacy builder in and of itself. “We continue to use our Knowledge event as forum to drive engagement with our customers,” says Angela. By using advocates to fuel the planning, promotion and execution of the event, customers feel like they are a part of the conference, and the ServiceNow family. “We have really amped our voice of the customer efforts over the last 12 months, and, as a result, we have a growing roster of customers advocating for us.”
Angela says the BAMMIES win increased the buzz around the ServiceNow program, event and top customers. “I think that this validated the role that customers—and the voice of the customer programs—have in increasing the value and impact of our marketing efforts.”
The Best Advocate Marketing Awards (A.K.A.The BAMMIES), recognize B2B companies that are taking the future by force and mobilizing advocates through marketing that is smart, engaging, intuitive, powerful and effective. Want to shine a light on your program? Learn more about entering here! Voting for the 2015 Advocate Marketing Program of the Year starts March 9, 2015.