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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.