Regina Love

Building Customer Experience by Looking at Event Marketing

February 9th, 2016

When creating a product for your customer, where do you begin?

A key element in creating a product is to focus highly on the customer experience. Start by asking how you want your customer to feel, think and what action do you want them to take after viewing your product.

The next question to ask yourself should be, how do we begin to organize and execute a valuable customer experience?

As we are currently in the process of preparing for MarketingSherpa Summit 2016, I want to apply to these questions what we have learned from creating a real-world experience for the marketers who attend our conference.

Starting off, we evolved the event this year from focusing solely on email because customers told us that marketers today no longer have the luxury of focusing on only one channel. After all, the customer doesn’t think of interactions with your company through only one channel. So we’re growing to help attendees create a cohesive experience with their brand across channels.

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Aimee Thompson, Events Manager, MarketingSherpa. Aimee is the brains behind MarketingSherpa Summit in Vegas, in addition to creating the structure for marketing labs and media centers at external events, and even expanding to in-person training.

We first dived in on the development of such a large and ever-expanding event, breaking it down into three phases of planning, which will also apply to any product creation or launches you may have:

  • Pre-production
  • Production
  • Post-production



In pre-production, your team will begin with ideas and planning prior to the actual production of the overall product.

The MarketingSherpa team always starts with a value proposition session. A large group of representatives from marketing, content and other teams in the organization close to conference will sit down and determine the content and branding, among other smaller elements, for the summit.

The collaborative effort and buy-in from leaders of your organization is important to ensure that your product is the best that it can be. The key in this phase is to focus on the reason “why” your ideal customer would buy from you rather than any of your competitors.

Next you want to organize the experience you want for your audience. If the experience is on a website, how do you want customers to get to the cart from the product page, and how seamless should the process be for check-out?

For our Summit, during walk-throughs of venues, Aimee will take hundreds of pictures and video of each and every aspect of the location. As the entire team involved can’t always be on-site, it helps that she can walk them through the images as if they were an attendee.

Developing a solid marketing budget is always a tricky piece to tackle, because you don’t want to overspend. Start by understanding and organizing your revenue information before preparing estimates. Estimates of costs should include research, testing strategies and multiple versions of your product.

Think logistically through the type and amount of resources that are going to be required to complete the project. Will you need to bring in external vendors to help support your overall goal or can it all be addressed in-house?

Aimee starts by looking at final numbers from the previous year’s event. She will determine what aspects of the event need to be increased and decreased, and what areas she feels like she’d like to invest more or less in. Imagining how and what the space will look like and collecting quotes from vendors involved ensures that the budget is as close to practical as possible.

One piece of advice from Aimee is, if you ever find a feature that was not in your initial scope, don’t be afraid to propose it. Make sure you show your vision as much as you can; tell the team leaders how much of an impact it can make on the customer experience and brand, as well as provide alternatives where you can cut costs.

Planning ahead is always an advantage if you have the opportunity. For example, Aimee is already halfway through developing the vision for MarketingSherpa Summit 2017 and into planning for MarketingSherpa Summit 2018.

One of Aimee’s favorite parts is figuring out what the show floor will look like as we start with a clean slate every year. She notes that her team strives to optimize every year, and attendees will never see an event that looks the same as the year before. Don’t be afraid to evolve and surprise your customers — otherwise, your product can become stale.

When beginning to build out your product, expect to organize multiple team meetings, focus groups and project plans.

Event Marketing


Aimee uses the Agile and Kanban board’s methodologies. Agile is a software development method in which requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional teams. Kanban board is a visualization work flow tool that enables you to optimize the flow of your work. When working with a team that meets to address upcoming tasks, this makes the process a bit easier to manage.

Nowadays the smartphone has become a necessity to our way of life and has great simple features, like reminders. Aimee relies on her phone to be her eyes and ears during the Summit. If she has 170 tasks to do throughout four days, she plugs them all into her phone with a time and location.



Again, whether you are launching a new website or providing a new service to your customers, ensuring that the execution is logical and seamless is something to be mindful of.

For instance, you visit a webpage with the intention of purchasing two t-shirts, and after you select the size and color of the first one, you’d expect to have an option to continue shopping, but you’re only given options to view your cart or check-out. Not a good production-moment customer experience. Put yourself in the mindset of customer and how you would like the experience to be.



During post-production, you want to conduct a project postmortem with everyone involved.

Postmortem is a process in which you analyze aspects of the project that were both successful and unsuccessful and discuss how it could be improved in the future.

At the end of every event, we always collect surveys from our attendees on how they enjoyed the conference, what they would have like to see more of and how they would like the future event to look. In a majority of our surveys last year, attendees requested more roundtable sessions and they wanted them to be longer. That is exactly what they are going to receive this year. Throughout the years, we’ve just improved the process drastically by using these methods.

As an optimization team, we are always testing a little bit at a time and that is what makes our event such a success. In order to create a product or experience worthy of your customers, optimization is essential.


You might also like

MarketingSherpa Summit 2016 — At the Bellagio in Las Vegas, February 22-24

Value Proposition online course (from MarketingSherpa’s parent research organization, MECLABS Institute)

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