During the planning for 360|Flex Atlanta, Tom and I realized something. We hadn’t been engaging our speakers. Here we had 40+ of the biggest names in the Flex developer community, most of whom blog and/or regularly speak at User Group meetings.
And we weren’t talking to them, let alone engaging them.
What do I mean by ‘engage’? I mean talking to them, asking them for help, asking them to do what they do best, asking them to be themselves.
At about 30 days out we had about a third of the registrations we wanted. We realized while sitting around the lounge of the OMNI that we had not engaged our speakers. WHAT? Yeah it sorta took us by surprise too, we just never thought about it.
That very night around mmmm 1am or so, we composed an email that we sent to each speaker. We explained that the speakers were in fact our marketing department and budget. Sure plenty of people read the 360|Flex blog, but too many (in our opinion, LOL) don’t. We meet attendees when they pick up their badge. Some will ask if there’s any events planned. We’ll say, “Yeah, the ones we announced on the blog.” To which some have said, “You have a blog?”
That night, we let each speaker know, that we needed their help, that all we asked, was that they blog about speaking at 360|Flex Atlanta, that they mention why they’re speaking, what made them want to speak, etc. Nothing untrue, nothing “shady”, nothing like that.
The reason we asked them to mention the conference, and their involvement was easy. Their blogs all had hundreds or thousands of people reading them daily. People who may not know we have a conference blog, but who read the speakers’ blog religiously.
By everyone, we also mean customers. That same night we also asked our past customers to give us a plug on their blog as well. Tom gets all mushy in his recount of the customer aspect on his blog.
After both started posting, we saw registrations double in about a month.
That’s what I mean by ‘engage’. If you have customers (speakers, attendees, and sponsors in our case) that care enough about you, then utilize them. We did and they literally make all the difference in the world to us.