“The past is always tense, the future perfect.”―Zadie Smith
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Registration just opened for the MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum.
That’s a boring name for a conference, isn’t it? Which is why we affectionately nicknamed the B2B Marketing Forum, which takes place each October in Boston, the “Marketing Muffin Top.”
Much like an actual muffin top in an actual muffin tin, it overflows in (mostly) appealing ways.
Right now, we are elbow-deep in rolling and setting the program for the 2015 B2B Forum, and the Marketing Muffin Top moniker is on my mind again because there are so many great ideas flying around. (Hat tip to marketing director Jo Roberts for that nickname.)
Two Things a Great Event Needs
The success of an event hinges on two things:
- The depth of the experience that you, as organizer, deliver
- The warmth of the community you cultivate
The key to both is a kind of editing–knowing which ideas to keep that are in line with those two things, and which ideas to kick out because they aren’t in line.
- Which will add to the experience, and which will distract from it?
- What are good ideas, and what are just plain not?
- Which are realistically doable, and which will fall flat?
It’s both overwhelming and exciting to plan the new program.
Last year’s Marketing Muffin Top was an especially apt metaphor: It was one-third bigger (the number of attendees) than the previous year’s, selling out of both sponsorships and seats. (Which was mostly good, except if you needed to use the women’s bathroom.)
The 2014 program had more sessions and extra-curricular activities than ever before. The event also overflowed with heart, soul, warmth, humor, fun, swag, surprises, and shenanigans.
I sound like Braggy McBragPants, don’t I?
I’m not. Because the truth is that we didn’t get everything right.
In the eight years since we’ve been hosting the B2B Forum, we’ve learned a lot about hosting events. So, to paraphrase Oscar Wilde: We are not young enough to know everything.
The success of an event hinges on two things: the depth of the experience that you deliver, and the warmth of the community you cultivate.
“Experience” is one of those words that I feel allergic to in a marketing context, because it can be a vague and amorphous term.
What does “experience” mean, anyway? How do we get some of that?
And anyhow what is my industrial paper product supply company or telecom company or marketing services agency or [insert the category of almost any other business here] supposed to do to embrace “experience,” anyway?
A start toward creating better customer experiences is to sweat the trivial–or as my friend Mitch Joel says: Add value in unexpected places.
For our events, that means we have a seven-point checklist for the program side of the event:
- Create a sense of community–a kind of foxhole mentality, that we’re all in this together.
- Create moments worth sharing.
- Expect the unexpected.
- Get out of the hotel and find the gems in the city.
- Add shenanigans.
- Create friction-free online and on-site processes
- Understand that ridiculously good content is table stakes. Great education, top-notch sessions, and access to speakers, sponsors, partners and networking are givens: In the world of marketing events, it’s table stakes.(Especially in the fall, which is High Conference Season. If marketing events in September and October were rocks, you could step from one to another across a huge expanse of water–the Pacific Ocean, perhaps–and hop from Los Angeles to Hawaii without getting your socks soggy.)
Looking Back to Move Ahead
Planning this year’s event started with looking back at 2014, and asking ourselves what worked and what didn’t. (You have to understand your history if you want to evolve, right?)
Here’s a look at some of the ridiculously good nuggets from the Muffin Top that was, including a baker’s dozen of wisdom from the likes of Scott Stratten (@unmarketing), Tim Hayden (@thetimhayden), Lee Odden (@leeodden), Tamsen Webster (@tamadear), Tom Webster (@webby2001), Tom Martin (@tommartin), Amber Naslund (@ambercadabra), Chris Penn (@cspenn), Kristina Halvorson (@halvorson), and Austin Kleon (@austinkleon).
Kudos to Rob Zaleski for pulling the smarts together:
MarketingProfs B2B Forum – What Comes Next from MarketingProfs
And onward to a new 2015 recipe. Check out the new venue, (partial) program, pricing, and promise of the B2B Forum 2015 by clicking on the image here:
Vahe Habeshian says
Ann Handley says
lol…. frosted, too.
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Logan Brown says
Thanks for this awesome view of a marketing event. I love the clear and concise vision that you portrayed from your writing, and the truth that it holds. I completely agree that the success of an event relies on the depth of the experience and the community that you cultivate. At any event I have attended, the ones that stand out the most have the most inspirational speakers, relatable topics, and energetic audience. These factors all contribute to creating a great experience and sense of community. At my university, I am a tour guide for prospective students. My goal as a tour guide is to deliver a memorable experience for the visitors and help them get a sense of the wonderful community we have on our campus. The director of our visitors center serves as a great resource for inspiration and always shares the quote that you mentioned in your article, “Make the customer the hero of your story”. I agree wholeheartedly that when you make the customer (or the university visitor) the hero of your story, they will inherently feel engaged in a deep experience and warm community. Thank you for reaffirming the truth in that quote.
Jodi Cruz says
I totally agree that great events have to establish a sense of community. I’ve been to a few conferences, and only a few were really worth remembering. The ones I do remember did establish a sense of community, which I believe is imperative to an enjoyable experience. Once that sense of community is established, it is a lot easier to communicate and relate to all of the other members of the conference and actually enjoy your time there instead of counting the hours and minutes until it’s over.
Laurel Rutherford says
Thank you for this insightful post. I appreciate that you included your seven-point checklist. I agree that you need to reflect on what worked and what didn’t work in order to improve. It’s interesting that you mention that successful events not only require depth of experience, but also the warmth of the community. I agree with this because creating a sense of community certainly adds to the depth of experience.
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Rasel Uddin says
depth of the experience and warmth of the community you cultivate is really needed to success in event. thanks for sharing nice post.