What if you could create a volunteer army of true believers who spread the word about your conference?
Sure you would.
Creating Customer Evangelists More Profitable Than Marketing
Creating customer evangelists is a more efficient and profitable approach to acquiring and retaining customers than traditional marketing says authors Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba in their book Creating Customer Evangelists.
According to McConnell and Huba, putting the customer at the center of the business universe instead of the company’s own needs, is a philosophy that savvy business leaders adopt. The business then designs processes, products and services with the intention of getting customers to talk about them and come back for more.
In short, it’s about delivering memorable experiences that compel customers to share their knowledge of the company, its products and its services.
Four Ways To Create Conference Customer Evangelists
Here are four ways to create customer evangelists that use word of mouth marketing to spread the news about your conference and event. These are adapted from McConnell and Huba’s suggestions.
1. Stop promoting and start educating.
Rethink promotion as not coming from you. Instead it should be enabled by you. Entice prospective attendees with education, not come-ons. The value of content-marketing is that the recipients are more likely to forward your education and content than they are your promotions, even if they don’t make a purchase.
Start sharing content and education from the speakers at your conference months in advance of its start date.
2. The best things in life are free.
What would you do if you didn’t have any money for marketing? Word of mouth would become your most important strategy.
Money doesn’t buy goodwill. However, your goodwill can influence others.
McConnell and Huba suggest that you share more of what you know by giving it away. They say to indentify the most important and efficient social networks and feed your knowledge into it. If your information is valuable, people will share it.
Give away free pre-conference content from your upcoming conference speakers via blogs, articles and webinars. Showcase their knowledge as a way to attract more prospective attendees.
3. Focus on long-term loyalty.
According to author Fred Reichheld, The Loyalty Effect, companies with strong customer loyalty enjoy 15 percent lower operating costs than comparable companies. And their growth rates are 220 percent above average.
Loyal customers are your evangelism candidates who will support you in good times and bad.
Healthy conferences have a repeat, customer loyalty rate of 70 percent or higher. (Loyal customers attended two out of the last three annual conferences). If your conference loyalty rate is 50 percent or lower, you are spending more time acquiring new customers than retaining current ones. Time to uncover what’s keeping your customers from returning at least two out of three years!
4. Believe in your customers.
Those that believe in creating customer evangelists use their budgets to seek permission to develop relationships with their customers. They know that the emotional investment will result in higher profits and lower operating costs. They continually solicit customer feedback and share it throughout the entire organization. They believe in their customers and know they will tell them the truth.
What are some ways conference organizers can solicit customer feedback in addition to the standard electronic survey? What are some traits of conferences that cause attendees to want to return year after year?
thom singer says
Telling your customers “It’s all about you” is not as powerful as showing your customers “it’s all about them!”. Too often the words about the conference experience do not match the conference experience. This disconnect will make people think twice about coming back the next year.
Jeff Hurt says
Well said Thom! Well said! Thanks for reading and commenting.
Silke Fleischer says
For a conference app company like us, the client who purchases our event apps is not the end user of the product – a very interesting marketing and sales situation.
Our focus as a company is the end user, who needs a reliable product that allows them to build their schedules easily out of thousands of sessions and presentations, find room locations, find vendors, protect privacy, etc. While attendees love our conference apps and say it’s the best for medical meetings, they are not the ones writing the RFPs, and the event planners are not the ones having to build their schedule and claim credits. This creates a dichotomy for the solutions app vendors offer. If event planners forget to focus on their end users and send dozens of vendor push notifications, place too many vendor ads, or select a low quality app, end users will only be frustrated with the technology offered. If the app doesn’t work offline, who cares if it can do x, y, z when the venue Internet goes out?
Here is our challenge to event planners: Have your attendees provide input in writing conference app RFPs.