A common challenge executive's face is building awareness in the market about their organization or a new solution to drive sales. In the B2B world, one way to drive market awareness is through Executive Summits. Executive Summits traditionally consist of a compelling keynote speaker that focuses on an important topic, one or more case studies from strategic customer(s) and a few sessions that stimulate thought and conversation. This creates an environment where the participants are talking 80% of the time.
Typically, marketing events focus on the end user or even the influencer but the real opportunity is focusing on the decision maker. In order to attract decision makers to your executive summit you need to create the right environment to entice them to attend, especially if you don't have name recognition. Securing compelling keynote speaker, focused on a relevant topic, will make all the difference in attracting attendees because the use of a strong keynote will position your organization as a thought leader.
Another option when planning an executive summit is to leverage an influential industry group (i.e., magazine or industry group). This will help you to broaden your reach of decision makers in a more efficient manner (working smarter vs. harder). Once you have speakers identified you need to think about the number of attendees you want at the event; more is not better in an executive summit. Executives like a more intimate setting where they can have access to the keynote speaker, network, and really participate in the event. Creating an intimate environment with no more than 50 people will allow you to do that.
We recently executed an executive summit for one of our healthcare customers that did not have name recognition with their decision makers. Their primary contacts within the hospital were with material management and procurement. They knew they needed to get to decision makers in order to change the perception of their company and their brand. They wanted to focus on patient safety and invite Chief Nursing Officers and Chief Medical Officers.
This is where focusing on an influential group such as a trade publication gave them leverage. They partnered with an influential magazine within the healthcare market and spoke to their editor about what they were trying to accomplish. The editor was so impressed when she learned about the keynote speaker and the intimate environment to learn and share (80% participants talking), that she was energized to help them recruit key industry leaders to be on a panel discussion based on her own relationship with these individuals. This gave our customer the start of the ground swell they needed.
Our customer decided to leverage two panels which now gave them access to eight creditable executives. Once they locked down the keynote speaker, leveraged the editor of the magazine, and recruited the panelist, the panelist were able to invite two peers in similar positions. They were now on the path to success.
An additional element that added to the success of the event was the use of social media tools such as LinkedIn and Facebook. This enabled the head of the business unit to personally invite people as well as post and share updates to the event.
The event was a huge success. Our customer's goal for this event was to build awareness, executive relationships, and form a clinical advisory council. They achieved the following:
· 50 healthcare executives in the room that saw our customer's organization as a thought leader
· Attendees rated the Summit as the best event experience ever
· 100% of the attendees want to be involved in future events
· Created solid candidates for their Healthcare Advisory Council
An additional benefit for our customer was that their internal leaders who attended the event also got to see first hand that they can be relevant with executives, which helped give them the overall confidence they needed to make some key decisions about where they wanted to go in the market.
If you are serious about driving market awareness and growth at an executive level conducting an Executive Summit is the way to go. Our experience continues to show that when Executive Summits are done in conjunction with an Executive Advisory Council, the results of increased brand awareness, revenue, and executive relationships accelerate even faster.