A Virtual Event Helps Sage Stay Connected
For years, Sage North America had held two large events each fiscal year—Sage Insights in the fall and Sage Summit in the spring. But, with the roster of exhibitors nearly identical between the two, Sage decided to merge the events into a single Sage Summit. Doing that, though, presented a marketing challenge: How to stay connected with customers now that there were 12 months between events, rather than six.
Sage’s solution was a virtual event, which it not only used to stay in touch with its audience, but also to gather feedback for the upcoming physical event. “It wasn’t about selling our software; it was about selling the conference by framing it and molding it into something they wanted to hear about,” said Suzanne Spear, director-events at Sage North America.
At the two-hour virtual event Sage’s ceo greeted attendees, followed by keynotes from the company’s top execs. The centerpiece of the program was a series of 10 90-second videos that Sage’s product managers recorded using a company-provided flip camera. The product managers were given instructions and a basic script they used as a starting point for pitches they personalized to encourage their respective customers to attend their sessions at the physical event. Directly following each pitch, the product manager reached out to attendees thanking them for tuning in and urging them to submit their feedback. That information was then collected and reported to the product managers to help them shape their physical sessions.
More than 1,300 participated—well ahead of Sage’s goal of 1,000. The virtual event helped guide Sage’s product managers to create tighter breakout sessions, and it opened their eyes to lessons they could apply to the physical event—mixing up the networking sessions to appeal to both introverts and extroverts, for example, and the importance of physical handouts (as opposed to just electronic collateral).