Pardot just wrapped up its first annual users’ conference, Elevate 2010. I’m pleased to report that it was successful beyond our expectations! We had a great response from our clients and partners, with a sold-out house of over 120 participants.
There’s something incredibly powerful about getting some valuable face time with customers, learning about different clients’ experiences with Pardot, and sharing best practices and our future product vision. It really is a great opportunity to nurture and deepen the valuable relationships we’ve built with our customers. It also helps us (and our customers) put faces with names–something that’s increasingly rare in the realm of online marketing. Here are some valuable lessons we learned:
- Timeline – We secured our location for the conference about six months in advance, allowing us plenty of time to line up lots of great speakers and maximize attendance.
- Venue – The venue we selected was a newly remodeled business hotel located within walking distance of our office, MARTA trains and other public transportation, and plenty of shopping and restaurant options. We were certainly pleased, and we think the conference attendees loved the location as well.
- Technical Resources – We made sure we had the fastest internet connections possible, and we gave everything a test run beforehand to make sure it was working properly. All presentations were given on Macs in order to minimize problems and to ensure ease of use for presenters.
- Company Presentations – We focused our company presentations on Pardot-specific topics, including a “Year in Review” session and a product roadmap discussion, as well as two inside looks at how our own marketing and sales teams use our product.
- Client & Partner Speakers – We had so many great speakers–Omnipress, Ingage Networks, A.D.A.M., to name just a few. We also involved partners like SugarCRM, BrainRider, Arketi, DemandGenReport, LeadSloth, DataSync, MotumB2B, Pointclear, and Audaxium to further round out our slate of presenters.
- Staff Participation – We invited all Pardot departments to get involved with the conference, introduce speaker’s sessions and attend the events throughout the week. We also created a schedule for our services team to ensure that we had at least four dedicated services representatives at the conference at all times to answer account questions for clients.
- Open Forum Q&A – In addition to having staff present throughout the conference, we scheduled time for an “Open Forum” session, during which we had almost 100% of our Pardot team present to work one-on-one with clients and answer personal questions about their account. We’d recommend this kind of session to others planning a users’ conference, and we’ll definitely do it again next year.
- Communication and Promotion – We thought it was important to provide a backchannel for attendees to communicate in real time during the conference, so we created a special Twitter hashtag (#pardot2010) just for this purpose. We also used this hashtag ourselves prior to the conference to promote it, and during the conference to supplement presentations and reply to attendee comments.
- Fun Stuff – We hosted lunch on both days, as well as an informal networking session on Tuesday. Our two happy hours (one each evening) were a big hit with attendees and gave us more crucial face time in a relaxing and fun environment. Some visitors got tours of our office, where much scootering and ping-pong playing ensued. We also got to hand out books, shirts, umbrellas, stickers, and other fun swag. Our number one piece of feedback was that we’re “so much fun.” That’s not something you hear very often about users’ conferences!
Thank you to all of the clients, partners and Pardot team members who helped make Elevate 2010 a success!