7 Reasons Why The Remarkable Growth Experience was a Massive Success…& VERY Different

by Marcus Sheridan

It is my belief that the great ones in every industry want to be pushed and challenged when attending an event, which is exactly what RGE did.

It is my belief that the great ones in every industry want to be pushed and challenged when attending an event, which is exactly what RGE did.

Over the past 3 years, since going full time with The Sales Lion, I’ve had the great blessing of being able to attend many sales and marketing events around the globe, some small, and some big. And as I’ve attended each one of these events, there has always been a question in the back of my mind:

If I were to do my own live event, what would I mimic, and what would I do differently?

Well that question was answered at the beginning of January when, along with my good friends Ian Altman and Joey Coleman, I hosted my first live event—The Remarkable Growth Experience (RGE).

As I explained in a previous article, as I mentally prepared for this event I knew I didn’t want to have just another “conference.”

I wanted it to be very different.

It had to be intimate.

It had to give extreme value while pushing attendees to the edge of their abilities.

And it had to have real-life application and takeaways for these attendees as well.

In other words, it had to be “Remarkable.”

Because those were the core goals of the event, every decision made before, during and since RGE have been guided by this focus. And at the risk of sounding incredibly arrogant and self-serving, the Remarkable Growth Experience was a phenomenal success, with over 70% of all attendees stating in their closing survey that RGE was “the best professional event/conference they’d ever attended.”

I do not tell you this to brag, but rather to lead into my next point, and that is how the design of the event was very different than your typical conference, and how that ultimately made for a very different user experience—principles that can be applied to all types of interactions, not just “conferences.”

7 Reasons the Remarkable Growth Experience was a Resounding Success

1. Creating Intimacy and Experiences through Scarcity: We talk a lot about “social” media these days, but the truth is many conferences are not very social—especially when it comes to intimacy, be it between speakers and attendees or simply between the attendees themselves. Because of this, we decided to limit the number of people that could attend RGE to 75 people. This gave us the ability to have a very high amount of interaction with each presentation between the speaker and the audience. It also meant the audience was able to form some unique relationships with each other over the two-day period. And by the time everything was said and done, it almost felt like we were one big team, with each of us ready to charge back to our businesses with a new found vision and vigor. If you watch the following powerful video, you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about:

YouTube Preview Image

Also, keep in mind that we could have easily sold over 100 tickets for RGE, as we hit our limit 3 weeks before the event. But because this focus of intimacy was so very important, we literally turned down the possibility of thousands more in profits so as to create the greatest experience possible—something I do not regret in the slightest.

By limiting the event to only 75 attendees, intimacy and interaction became a staple of the Remarkable Growth Experience

By limiting the event to only 75 attendees, intimacy and interaction became a staple of the Remarkable Growth Experience

2. A High Ticket Price: I see lots of conferences that charge only a few hundred dollars for the event. Others, like Social Media Marketing World, NMX, or Content Marketing World are around $1000-1200 for a two day conference. So instead of being like everyone else, we decided to make RGE higher than all of these, with the average ticket price going over $1600. You may be thinking this number would price many people out from going, and you’re exactly right. With RGE, we wanted the highest quality of attendees—folks that truly wanted to be there and work as hard as they possibly could to make it an impactful experience. Furthermore, because of the higher ticket prices, we didn’t have to “go cheap” with anything and cut corners just to save a few bucks.

3. Finally, the Combination of Sales, Marketing, and Customer Experience: This one is a big, big deal, and I’ve not seen a single conference approach this trifecta as we did, despite the fact that we so often hear the phrase, “We need to break down the silos” when discussing how marketing and sales departments should be working together within organizations.

Ian Altman and Joey Coleman are literally as talented as any speakers I've ever seen, and doing the event together created a perfect combination of sales, marketing, and customer experience knowledge and takeaways for attendees.

Ian Altman and Joey Coleman are literally as talented as any speakers I’ve ever seen, and doing the event together created a perfect combination of sales, marketing, and customer experience knowledge and takeaways for attendees.

In the case with RGE, I was the marketing guy, Ian was the sales guy, and Joey was the customer experience guy. This meant a constant rotation of topic and voice, as each of us gave roughly 4 sessions over the course of the 2 days. And because it was set up this way, many of the companies that came to RGE brought multiple team members—leading to a greater understanding within departments and more of a unified vision moving forward.

4. Tons of Education, Premium Content, and Take-Aways—without Sponsors: I understand why events have sponsors, I do. From a financial standpoint, they can make all the difference. But frankly, I’ve never enjoyed it when sponsored content was “pushed” down my throat as an attendee of an event—usually making for an uncomfortable situation for all parties involved. The way I see it, an attendee of any type of conference or event always wants to feel like organizers value their time, and are doing everything in their power to provide a positive experience with each and every moment. This can be very difficult to achieve with sponsors as they deserve time as well if they’ve invested in the event.

At RGE, our entire focus was premium education.  Within the first 5 minutes of starting until the end, we were all were swimming in new ideas, techniques, and principles. And although there was some “entertainment,” this was clearly not the focus. In fact, as organizers Ian, Joey and I firmly felt that an incredible educational experience would be as “entertaining” as anything the attendees could possibly do.

5. Homework. Lots of Homework: Along with number 4, as we organized RGE we wanted to push attendees to immediately apply what they learned from our presentations, which is why they were given an extensive work book at the beginning of the event and after the first day, were required to complete multiple exercises with their team that night so as to bring them to the conference the next day to be discussed during the group workshop sessions. As an organizer, I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to see every single attendee had completed their homework and were full of stories about what they learned in the process.

Of all the conferences I've ever been to, I've never received an actual workbook, much less "homework" to do while at the event. At RGE, this was a major part of the attendee learning experience as they had to start planning and implementing what they'd learned immediately.

Of all the conferences I’ve ever been to, I’ve never received an actual workbook, much less “homework” to do while at the event. At RGE, this was a major part of the attendee learning experience as they had to start planning and implementing what they’d learned immediately.

6. A Surprise Field Trip: Just over half of the RGE attendees were not from the VA/DC area, having flown in from other states, which is exactly why Ian, Joey and I decided to have a surprise field trip the first night. Despite the fact that temperatures that evening were literally less than 10 degrees, the outing was a HUGE success as everyone sported their RGE stocking caps as we enjoyed the incredible nighttime views of our nation’s capital.

With my dear friend and business partner (River Pools) Jason Hughes as we braved the frigid conditions while touring some of our country's greatest landmarks...

With my dear friend and business partner (River Pools) Jason Hughes as we braved the frigid conditions while touring some of our country’s greatest landmarks…

7. A Very Different Closing Keynote: I don’t mean to “put down” the way other conferences handle their closing keynote, but I’m not a big fan of “entertainment” over “education” when it comes to capping off an event. In my opinion, the final act of a conference or event should leave a lasting impression, and has the ability to be an amazing exclamation mark on everything up to that point.

With RGE, instead of simply closing with a final message, we instead invited attendees—on their own volition—to come up and share their thoughts and feelings about the previous two days, and also their new plans of action going forward. Not exactly sure how this segment would go, I was thrilled when attendee after attendee got up and spontaneously shared their new goals, vision, and priorities going for the future.

For the "closing keynote," we invited any attendee that wanted to come forward to take the mic and share what they were going to take away from the conference and how they were going to apply this to their business. The experience was a resounding success.

For the “closing keynote,” we invited any attendee that wanted to come forward to take the mic and share what they were going to take away from the conference and how they were going to apply this to their business. The experience was a resounding success.

Our Desire to be Challenged and  a Look Ahead

In full reflection of this entire experience, I’m left with this main thought:

When it comes to conferences and events—*great* professionals, in every industry, want to be challenged. They want to be pushed. They want to get better. This is what they are thirsting for when they leave their offices and take time out of their lives to attend. Sure, there will always be some folks that are more interested in a party, which is fine, but that’s never going to be the focus of RGE. Instead, it will be about intimacy, education, and a premium experience.

RGE attendees were pushed with every session to explore ideas on sales, marketing, and customer experience that many had never even considered.

RGE attendees were pushed with every session to explore ideas on sales, marketing, and customer experience that many had never even considered.

As I look down the road, I’m happy to say RGE was just the beginning of what will be many live events I have plans for in the future. Seeing the impact those two days had on individuals and companies was frankly too moving and thrilling to not be a part of again and again and again.

Your Turn:

I’d love to hear your honest thought on a subject my friends: If you’ve ever been to a sales or marketing conference, what were the parts you liked most? What parts didn’t you like? And what do you wish more event organizers understood?

The wonderful photos were provided by Danielle Lavis Photography.

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Jon Moss January 29, 2014 at

Marcus – this conference looks A-MAZING! You’ve given me a lot of meat to chew on for some projects I’m currently working on. What struck me in the video was how you came across as one of the more sedate presenters – which having experienced you live and knowing that’s the opposite of what you are leads me to believe that ALL the presenters were awesome. Thanks for giving us a peak at what took place in DC.

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Marcus Sheridan January 29, 2014 at

Hahaha, you’re the best Jon! Appreciate the words man, and Yes, Joey and Ian are seriously very, very good at what they do.

Cheers,

Marcus

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Randy Cantrell January 29, 2014 at

You realize this means I’ll have to plan to attend the next one, don’t you? It sounds like the ideal “conference” for shy folks like me who hate big crowds and want something deeper than inspiration. Well done, Marcus.

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Marcus Sheridan January 29, 2014 at

Randy, we’re much overdue for a meeting “IRL” anyway! ;-)

Thanks bud,

Marcus

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Serges January 29, 2014 at

Marcus,
All I can say is your a leader and not afraid to do things differently and take chances.
This sounds like an awesome way to present and I’m going to try and attend the conference.
I’m a very small business still trying to grow but will save my pennies as I would love to attend this type of conference.

Great job!!!
Serges

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Marcus Sheridan January 29, 2014 at

I’d love to have you there Serges, and can’t thank you enough for the kind words.

Continued success in 2014 my friend!

Marcus

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Mark W Schaefer January 29, 2014 at

Hooray for the home team. Congratulations!

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Marcus Sheridan January 29, 2014 at

You’re the best Schaefer :-)

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Adam Dukes January 29, 2014 at

Not surprised, but it sounds like it was a great success. My favorite part of attending conferences is finally meeting the people in person. Some after years of consuming their content and buying their products. I also love the networking that happens in the hallways, lunches, at the bar, etc.

Love how you closed out the event. How cool for the people to get up in front of everyone and share what they learned and how they are going to apply it going forward.

Put me down for RGE15, I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

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Marcus Sheridan January 29, 2014 at

Adam, that gets me pumped hearing it my friend. I’d LOVE to have you there! We’re in the midst of scheduling it as we speak, so I’ll let you know.

Best!!

Marcus

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Weston January 29, 2014 at

Marcus

Usually a big fan of your posts but when you gave as an explanation for high ticket prices “….we wanted the highest quality of attendees” I winced.

You charged higher ticket prices because you thought that is what the market would bear (and clearly you were right). You are running a business. Absolutely nothing wrong with you making as much money as possible off your products/services.

I see people every day paying higher prices for goods and services that could be obtained at the same level of quality for far less money. The fact that people are willing to pay more money for something does not in any way equate with them being a “higher quality” of customer or client. I have also seen people pay an average than higher price and then ignore, misuse or abuse the service or product that they paid so much for.

You give good value. You charged more because you believed enough people would be willing to pay that amount for that value.

That’s a beautiful thing. Be proud of it.

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Nicholas January 29, 2014 at

I can understand why Weston winced, but what Marcus is saying makes sense, even if some people would phrase it differently.

When I do seminars (I’m a trademark attorney), I always charge for them. The fact is that if a seminar is free (e.g., a marketing effort), people don’t take it as seriously. They sign up and then don’t come. But if I charge, even a modest sum, then people feel invested in it. They show up. They pay more attention. Even if I provide meals or giveaways that result in no “profit” from the event, charging a fee makes it more successful.

So I think what Marcus is saying is that a higher price attracts people who are really committed to being there. They are, in that sense, “higher quality” attendees. They self-select based on motivation and commitment, driven by the higher price. (Since they trust the organizer to provide that level of value.)

But Weston is also correct: High price for high value is a beautiful (and rare) thing.

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Marcus Sheridan January 29, 2014 at

Dittos across the board Nicholas. Very well said, and thanks so much for adding your thoughts. :)

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Marcus Sheridan January 29, 2014 at

Hey Weston, really appreciate your thoughtful comment here. There is no question we wanted to maximize profits, but at the same time, if profits were our biggest goal we would have just sold another 25 tickets, as that was easily attainable.

Because first event was very much an “experiment” of sorts (figuring out what truly does make for the best “experience”), I wanted to ensure everything was just right, from the quality of the attendees to our ability to spend individual time with each one. It’s a tricky balance indeed.

That being said, I truly do feel like the quality and efforts of attendees was outstanding. What percentage of that had to do with the ticket amount, I cannot say.

But to your point, I am very proud that people saw the value in spending the extra money to come to RGE, knowing there are many other things (and events) they could do with their time and money.

Again, thanks so much for the comment Weston, I really appreciate your support.

Marcus

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Chris R January 29, 2014 at

When is the next RGE “experience”?

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Marcus Sheridan January 29, 2014 at

Thanks for asking Chris. Should be later this year, as the demand has shocked us and the majority of the original attendees stated they wanted to bring the rest of their team to the next one. So currently, we’re getting that figured out, and I’ll absolutely be letting you know.

Thanks again!

Marcus

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Darin "Doc" Berntson January 29, 2014 at

Hey Marcus,

Looks like you had one heck of an event. Kudos to you, Ian and Joey for pulling it off with class, style and awesome educational content.

From many of the conferences I have attended, the parts I did not like were:

High price, overly sponsored, and not walking away with value. too many speakers and tracks. (it’s impossible to really get anything out of a rushed 30-45 minute presentation) Not only that, but with so many tracks, how do you choose? How do you consume all you want? You can’t!

A lot of conferences have the same speakers, and you hear the same thing over and over again. This gets old. Seems like many speakers use the same schtick for the entire year or more.

Too many people. While it is great to meet with, and “network” to your hearts content, too many attendees is sometimes a drag. You have almost no chance of getting to meet with and interact with presenters.

Some of the ones I like are pretty much reverse of what I have mentioned. Smaller, on target conferences. A great deal of learning and action items you can implement today. I am not a big fan of theory. If there is a tactic that works, I want to know how to do it. Not hear a high level overview of “look what we did”.

On the other hand, some conferences are just fun to attend and do the mingling thing. Popping in and out of sessions can be cool. But, now that I spend my own marketing and travel dollars… I have to be more wise as to what I attend. So, for me to go, it has to be the cream of the crop.

Again, nice work on the event. I hope I am able to attend one of these days. Where is the next tour stop?

Doc

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Marcus Sheridan January 29, 2014 at

Doc, LOVED this comment man. I feel like you and I are very much cut from the same cloth, caring about the same things– which is exactly why I did the event this way. I have a feeling if you come to the next one you’re going to find it incredibly refreshing. Yes, it’s not cheap, but as for value, I’d be surprised if you ever walked away with an event with more than our RGE attendees received.

We are in the midst of defining when we’ll be doing the next one. The demand is very, very much there, so I suspect it will be later in 2014.

I sure appreciate all your support brother.

Marcus

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Darin "Doc" Berntson January 30, 2014 at

And I/we appreciate all you do good sir!

Look forward to hearing about the next event. You should consider Salt Lake City for one of these tour stops. =) (though, I do like to get out of town!)

Doc

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James Hahn II January 29, 2014 at

First, your questions:

1. What were the parts you liked the most? – A conference lives or dies on the quality of the networking that takes place. With a $1,600 average ticket, I’m certain your networking was fantastic!

2. What parts didn’t you like? – Bad speakers. What more can you say?

3. What do you wish more event organizers understood? – A lot of celebrities are terrible speakers. And putting a big name on your stage doesn’t always translate into value for your event or your audience. In fact, it can be really detrimental when it’s clear the guy’s just there to collect his fee and be on his way.

That said, WOW! I knew you you would kill it, but you’ve outdone yourself. Congrats, brother! I can’t wait to see where you take things from here!

p.s. We can discuss my speaking fees for next year offline ;)

p.p.s. LOVE 1:28 in that video. Vintage Marcus Sheridan in his ZONE!

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option info January 30, 2014 at

7 perfects reasons to grown experience in business thank you Marcus!

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Ian Cleary January 30, 2014 at

Hey Marcus,

Sounds like an amazing conference. Well done for sticking out from everyone else. I’d say your tickets for next years conference will be sold very quickly!!!

Ian

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Moqtadir Rakib January 30, 2014 at

Hello, Marcus Sheridan
This conference is amazing.. I just finished carefully your article. this is very helpful article.. i can say that. Really enjoyed reading your article. Keep writing informative and useful article like these one.

Thanks .. :)

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Stephen Anderson January 31, 2014 at

Its that feeling of intimacy and connection we all crave, that knowing that we are important to someone else and that that person holds us in high regard. What a great idea on limiting the attendees to RGE. Its the perfect way to help each participant feel like they are one among a small intimate group.

That is a fabulous way to help make a difference in the lives of your clients.

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Christian Newman February 4, 2014 at

Congratulations, Marcus! What a fantastic event and a remarkable success! Let me know when you decide to out on “RGE north” up in Canada and I’ll be there. Except we’ll have “toques,” not “stocking caps.” ;)

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Jason Diller February 7, 2014 at

I’m in for next year. Watching the video gave me chills.

These are the types of events I need to be at.

Cheers, Marcus

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Marcus Sheridan February 11, 2014 at

Would love to see you there brother. You’d seriously dig it…plus we’re long overdue for a good face to face anyway ;-)

Marcus

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