• 7 Tips For Creating Effective Customer Conversations

    Executive events help you build relationships with new customers and deepen long-term relationships with existing ones.  In the end, as a vendor your objective is to market your products and services to technology decision makers. But the most effective executive events maniacally focus on delivering the information and perspectives those decision makers need.
    Plenty of work goes into creating roundtables and events: from planning the content to inviting attendees to organizing the venue and handling logistics. All these activities are vital, but based on the more than 200 executive events we produce each year, we believe that successful events are built around great conversations, not just presentations. We believe that these unscripted, real conversations foster long-lasting trust between technology buyers and vendors. In this whitepaper, we share our top seven tips for driving results via high-impact customer conversations at executive events. Some highlights:

    Tip #1: ‘Channel’ Your Audience

    First, consider what your goal is and whom you want to attend your event. The topic, content and conversation need to be honed and relevant to every attendee, and every attendee should be able to contribute to the conversation. Matching your event content and discussion to the information needs and expertise of your audience will maximize its value to both you and your customers.

    Tip #2: Pick a Provocative Topic

    Don’t just build your event around the latest trend or buzzword. No matter how “hot” your topic is, you should make sure you give busy decision makers a reason to attend. Make it about them, be as specific as possible, and invite them to participate in the conversation.

    Tip #3: Moderation is Everything

    Moderating live events is an art. Your moderator should be able to engage the audience while keeping the conversation focused and moving forward. Effective executive events create a rapport between attendees,industry experts, and your brand. Your moderator will be instrumental in creating that rapport, both on-site and beforehand.

    Tip #4: Invest in Great Speakers

    Executive roundtables usually feature two or three speakers: a well-known keynote speaker, a speaker from your company and perhaps a speaker from your customer base. Executive Forums are usually a bit longer, with a keynote and three or four other sessions. No matter what format you choose, the quality of your speakers and how well you help them prepare will go a long way toward making your event a success.

    Tip #5: Talk to Your Attendees

    Beforehand Try to establish a rapport with your audience before they arrive at the event. This will get them thinking about the topic—and give you guidance about what aspects of the content resonate with them.

    Tip #6: Be Flexible

    While you definitely want to keep the conversation on track and on topic, much of the magic of your event will be in letting your customers ask questions and hear from their peers. Be prepared to handle questions and topics that are not on your agenda but that are legitimately related and of interest.

    Make sure to allow plenty of time in your program for this unscripted magic to occur. You’ll find that encouraging the participants to add their viewpoint to the discussion will make the event much more memorable for everyone.

    Tip #7: Create a Comfort Zone

    Our tips thus far have had to do with building content and moderating a great conversation. But attendees are much more likely to contribute to that conversation if they’re comfortable and relaxed. An interesting venue with gourmet food and four-star service may not always be realistic or within your budget, but your customers will always appreciate a smooth registration desk, comfortable chairs, and a good cup of coffee.

    Conclusion

    Executive events, roundtables and forums can be of great value to both you and your customers. They get their questions answered, let you know what their challenges are, and hear what others in the same situation are doing.

    You get to position your solution in the context of their challenges and align your brand with industry thought leaders. A worthwhile executive event encourages a two-way dialogue between you and your customers, creating relationships and trust that last long after the event comes to an end.

    Our seven tips boil down to one simple precept: Build your event around customer conversations, not your marketing presentation.  Download the complete White Paper here.

    Brian Gillooly, Editor in Chief of UBM TechWeb, has spent the past 22 years establishing a trusted and significant presence in the business technology community. One of the most recognized personalities in IT media, Brian has built valuable relationships with the most influential practitioners in the technology industry and counts among his closest contacts CIOs from both Fortune 500 companies and small businesses.

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