Planview just finished our 2012 Product Expo introducing Planview Enterprise 10.4 – and we did it virtually. Here’s what we have found to be great about a virtual product launch event:
- We are able to get more customers and prospects to attend at a global level. They can participate from their office – all they need is an Internet connection.
- We can control the content so attendees receive comprehensive, product-focused information that not only drives product adoption but also reinforces your brand.
- Presentations and demos are available to attendees for 90 days so they can share it with their teams and watch on-demand.
2012 Planview Product Expo Command Central
Selfishly, I will add a fourth benefit. From Command Central, I was easily able see all the booth representatives interacting live with customers from around the world. I love that part! Our customers drive our products so it’s very exciting to read live commentary. Booth experts were able to respond instantly to questions about product functionality and enhancements while simultaneously continuing to strengthen a positive level of partnership with customers.
Why Host Virtually?
Two years ago, we found that our typical approach of emails and webcasts were no longer creating the desired impact and awareness we needed to communicate a global product launch with new market positioning. With only 100 customers able to attend the last launch webcast series, we needed a better way to engage more of our client base, strategically position our overall solution, and provide customers an opportunity to demo specific product functionality. Traditional methods were not working and physical events were logistically impossible for most customers.
Building on our experience with hosting a virtual User Conference in Nov 2009, we partnered with Intercall (formerly Unisfair) to help us build an interactive product launch experience for our customers. The virtual platform recreates a physical event down to the smallest detail, with presentations, live Q&As, demos, Meet the Expert sessions, and chat rooms. We set up the virtual environment to deliver three levels of content and customers could choose how deep they want to dive on any specific capability.
The three levels of content include:
- Overview of product release with featured presentations and live Q&A
- Expo Hall with virtual booths that contained what’s new by solution areas and access to the Product Team via chats
- Customer area with representatives and release information, interactive release notes, migration planning, customer support, and enablement programs
Product Development Booth at the 2012 Planview Product Expo
While going virtual helped us increase launch participation by 400%, it isn’t for the faint of heart. Planning a virtual event takes every bit of effort as other options, if not more.
It takes a team of dedicated staff to organize deliverables, drive people to meet deadlines, pre-record content, and communicate regularly with attendees. But patience is key. We have seen about half of the registrations come in within 48 hours of the event go-live date.
But the outcome is well worth the effort. Hosting a virtual event is a contemporary approach to communicating your corporate initiatives to key stakeholders worldwide. Customers, prospects, partners, and analysts benefit from the rich, targeted content and one-on-one conversations with subject matter experts. You have the ability to set the stage and create a dialog around product capabilities and corporate messaging while educating the audience on a variety of product offerings for future implementation.
I’d like to hear from you. What are some of your experiences and best practices for product launch communications and what are your experiences hosting virtual events? Post a comment below.