User meetings are expensive. Therefore many company executives are suspicious of what the actual value of a user meeting might be, other than a boondoggle. If not planned appropriately you might create a fun party, but not a revenue-generation event. The only thing you will have to show for your investment is a significant line-item expense in your budget.
Although this scenario paints a bleak picture of user meetings, you do have a better choice. You can create a quality event that generates long term value for you, your company and your customers. The trick is to take strategic and planned approach.
Three key steps will help guide and drive you to create a profitable user meeting instead of a money-sucking boondoggle. This strategic process delivers an excellent customer experience with layers of benefits to reap throughout the entire year!
Three steps for profitable user meetings
Producing an event with these key strategic elements reinforces your commitment to customers and arms them with targeted and valuable information.
Step One: Create value for the attendees
You can plan all you want, but if you do not have anyone at the event – you have failed. Your customers are busy. They need to quickly understand what value they will receive from taking time out of their busy schedule to attend your meeting.
If the event is all about your company, customers will quickly see through the deception and not bother to attend or recommend your meetings to their peers. Most importantly, they will not feel you have their best interest at heart.
User meetings are for the benefit to your customer. The agenda must be thoughtful and speak to their needs and challenges. Pay particular attention to what your attendees get out of the meeting. What are the key take-aways from your educational content? The meeting should deliver significant value from the customers’ point of view. To create a valuable experience, start by answering the following questions:
Who is your audience and what is most important to them?
What are the key challenges that keep them up at night?
What can they take away from the event and immediately put into action to help them be more successful?
If you do not have the answers to these questions at your fingertips, do your research to get them. Start by sending out a survey. Conduct site visits or phone calls. Your goal is to listen and hear what the customer is saying. Find commonalities and points that keep coming forward during these conversations.
Use this information to build your agenda and provide solutions during your event. Make your content and activities speak to their specific needs. Not only will your customers be more inclined to participate, but they will also know you listened to their issues and are offering them help.
Step Two: Identify and incorporate up-sell opportunities
This does not mean you are hawking your wares at the user meeting. Customers will not return if they feel pressured to buy something (i.e. the free ticket timeshare pitch). Your research and diligence must include ways to approach customers and have meaningful conversations to drive interest and follow-up meetings.
Your goal in this step is to identify customers that need help in certain areas, and make sure they are aware of how your company can help them. Create a coding system via their badge, so the sales team knows at a glance what products each customer uses, which they do not already use, and guage their level of interest. Use this information to introduce customers using all your products to those who would benefit from doing the same.
Another way to build an effective up-sell environment is to tie your event to your business goals. Clearly define your revenue goals and incorporate them into your event. This small step ensures buy-in from your executive team. Quantify how the user meeting will help the company meet their customer and sales needs. If you can prove this is the case, it will be easier to get executive funding and support.
Step Three: Embed PR and marketing activities into your event
This step is the secret sauce that provides benefits throughout the year. Once your attendees start to register, your job is to dig into specifics and categorize them using all the identifiers and information you have on file. For example, years with the company, satisfaction rating, opportunity, revenue, margins, participation in other business activities, etc.
Armed with detailed customer information you can begin to outline specific action plans. Create a PR and marketing matrix to identify attendees most interested in being interviewed for white papers, case studies, speaking engagements or articles. Some customers may be interested in co-authoring blogs or providing a videotaped testimonials (which can be done during the meeting). Once the event is over, you will have a bounty of content assets to support your PR and marketing initiatives for the rest of the year.
The gift that keeps giving
The three-step strategic process for user meetings outlined above creates an environment filled with specific sales opportunities to help your customers solve their own business problems. You benefit from having your marketing and PR coffers filled for the rest of the year. Using this method creates a true win for your customers and your company.