Friday, September 23, 2016

User Meetings: Sweat on the Walls

The landscape's littered with lackluster user meetings. How can you produce one so deliciously audacious there's sweat on the walls?

Experiential agency Cramer recommends eight steps:

Create "micro experiences" within the experience. Take a page from consumer festvals like SXSW and introduce things like rock climbing walls and Ferris wheels.

Become "one with the destination." Don't go to a killer host city, then lock your attendees in a hotel ballroom. Make your meeting a microcosm entwined with the location. Provide local musicians, performers and food.

Offer a "next-gen environment." Don't just brand the space, tie every part of it to your organization's purpose. Introduce collaboration walls and local artists who custom-make takeaways tied to your product.

Design with courage. Quirky and unexpected moments can go viral. The G2 Conference lets attendees climb above its floor, circus style, and hold meetings while suspended in chairs.

Deliver on your theme. Use a "message map" to assess every aspect of the meeting, to assure they all articulate your theme. Every physical and digital touchpoint should carry the theme.

Embrace event tech. Livestreaming, virtual reality, the Internet of Things, audience response, directional audio, and attendee tracking should all be deployed.

Cultivate communities. Think beyond "technical support." Your users want to know where their industry and your brand are heading. Offer the sparks needed to launch new communities around new ideas. Provide platforms for continued content creation, conversation and collaboration after your meeting. And be purposeful and exclusive.

Learn from startup events. Go back to your roots and original purpose. Experiment with fresh formats. Show users you're listening by treating each one as an early adopter. And, last but not least, spend wisely. Resist the big-name speakers, lavish parties and flashy moments and emphasize instead networking, conversation and opportunities to collaborate.

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