Why Engage? A Skeptical Acquian's Change of Heart
by Taryn Collins
We hosted our inaugural digital customer conference, Engage, in the fall of 2014. The event brought more than 500 customers, Acquians, partners, and other attendees together for three days of content-packed sessions, keynotes, and some crazy musical fun. Since the event went so well in its first year, we decided to do it again.
With the prevalence of conferences focusing on digital these days, it’s challenging to convey the unique value of a particular event. What’s the special value of this event? Why should business executives pay for a ticket? With everyone’s time at an absolute premium, if you can’t convey the value, you won’t sell any seats.
When we announced this event to Acquia staff last year, our marketing team was faced with a lot of questions. How was Sales supposed to sell something they knew nothing about? How could they possibly relay the value of an event we’d never held before? Why should they devote precious hours of their day that could be dedicated to closing deals, instead to selling a conference that may or may not be a success?
This perspective as relayed to me by Sean Burns, Regional Manager for NGOs and Non-Profits at Acquia. Sean admitted to being a skeptic at the outset of this initiative: “I was really reluctant to push Engage at first. It came out looking like a big marketing campaign to gather hundreds of customers together, but it fell on sales to actually make that happen. I thought: We already have enough on our plates, why should we pitch an event we know nothing about? I didn’t know if it would be a good experience for my customers, so I didn’t want to push it.”
His skepticism was shared by others on the team. It wasn’t until Burns was able to take part in the event that his perspective changed. “I was pleasantly surprised to see the value for customers at this event. The sessions I attended had quality content, but what really stood out was the conversations between customers, who were either making new connections or having meaningful conversations with peers about their own digital experiences.”
We talked at length about the attendee benefits, which included taking part in a great collaborative environment, networking, and comparing digital strategies with peers within your industry, or learning how businesses in different industries are managing their digital experiences. It gives attendees a chance to learn from others, and determine whether these new insights might be able to help shape and inform their own digital strategies.
Since his 180-degree change in perspective, I asked Sean how he’s been pitching the event this year. Sean says he tells the same story of how last year’s inaugural event converted him from a skeptic into one of the event’s most passionate advocates.
I asked Sean to share a list of the three most powerful reasons for attending Engage:
- Professional Development: Having the opportunity to meet people in your peer group, and having collaborative, constructive conversations about digital.
- Drupal Talk: If you’re already utilizing Drupal, learning how other organizations are leveraging this open source platform. Or, if you’re a business considering Drupal and Acquia adoption, having the opportunity to learn about Drupal and its global community.
- Thought Leadership: Last year we had a some incredible keynote speakers, including Ethan Marcotte, who examined industry trends on a larger scale, Kristina Halvorson, who discussed the importance of content strategy, and Simon Mainwaring, who explained how to connect with the consumer by “scaling intimacy.”
This year you’ll get to hear Lisa Welchman, Jake Sorofman, and Daniel Pink in our keynote slots, along with many other industry thought leaders across a variety of industries. Check out the Engage site for a full rundown of speakers and sessions.
Considering Engage 2015? Take it from Sean - you won’t regret it. You digital future is waiting!