February 28, 2019

Event Strategies

5 Event Formats Guaranteed to Make an Impact


Corrine Stratton

Our webinar recap covers the 5 event formats you should consider for your event marketing program. Access the webinar recording and slides.


We did a brief poll of our attendees and found that 40% are primarily producing user conferences with 20% producing roadshows and executive forums and another 20% producing virtual events.

What makes a great event?

We have found that it is really about three things

  1. Are you creating a unique experience for your attendees?
  2. Is it worth their time?
  3. Finally, are you providing actionable insights?

The only way to make sure your event is delivering on these three factors is to have a clear understanding of who makes up your target audience. An event with a target audience of a CXO may be a very different event than one for your product’s end-user.

User Conference

“User conferences help connect people with the brands they love and re-energize their commitment to the work they do.” -  The Three R’s of User Conferences, Cramer.

The great thing about user conferences is that they are not just for your current users. They are a great way to introduce prospects to your product. At user conferences, you have the opportunity to provide updates on your products, upsell to your current customers, connect prospects with your customers. And most importantly (in my opinion), you create an environment where your prospects hear direct testimonials from your most loyal and successful customers. You really cannot ask for anything better.

User conferences are great and might be the right answer for you, but it is important to remember a few things:

  1. They take a lot of time and resources - Do you have all the is needed to put on an event of this scale?
  2. You need to make it worth it. - You are asking your attendees for a day or more out of the office. Some of your attendees will need to get approval to even attend, so you need to make sure the value is clear from the beginning.
  3. User conferences are expensive to produce. - Is the investment worth it?  What is your expected ROI?

User conferences are impactful because they give your attendees the chance to hear directly from customers and see how your product works in the wild. With the right content and partners, user conferences can set up your company to be seen as an industry expert that cares about the advancement of the industry as a whole, not just your product.


“It creates a more personal and engaging environment, which I think is the greatest aspect of small events. Each person is featured and expected to get involved.” - David Spinks, Founder, and CEO of CMX

Road Shows are smaller events that can be easily replicated across your sales region. The goal is to find a roadshow format that meets your business needs and can be easily reproduced.

A few of our favorites that we have seen done over the past few years:

  • One of our customers produced a whiskey tasting and fireside chat/panel
  • We’ve seen movie screenings
  • Roundtable discussions
  • And of course, you can’t really go wrong by booking a suite at a professional sporting event.

Roadshows need to be a mix of experience and content. If you're renting out a suite at a baseball game, you still should think about scheduling some time for a group discussion or a demo.

Roadshows are impactful because they can be easily replicated throughout your different sales regions. They are a great way to get to know your attendees on a more personal level and create a unique experience they aren’t likely to forget.

Executive Forum

“Subject Matter Experts add authenticity and depth to your content” - The Training Associates

A lot like the roadshow, an executive forum series is something you can reproduce where needed. The idea here is that you feature a subject matter expert or a leader within the industry to moderate a discussion and speak to leading executives in your industry.

An executive forum allows you to get in front of prospective leaders and tell your brand’s story while building a community of executive leaders. You might host this type of forum when you have published new research or do something to advance your category. <

A moderator can be your CEO, someone from the firm you partnered with to conduct your research or an author that is known for his or her expertise in your field. For example, if you are in the tech space, you might look to have a futurist speak on how AI is set to change the workplace in the next 3-5 years.

With an event like this, your product may take a backseat, but you are again making sure your brand is seen as evolving the industry and establishing a community of executive leaders.

Lunch & Learns

“Whether your objective is to bring in new clients or further educate your colleagues, food is always something to look forward to.” - Corporate Catering Concierge

Lunch and Learns are not just great internal events, they are also a fun way to get to know your customers and prospects in a more informal, product-focused format.

One of the great things about the Lunch & Learn format is that it is not only OK but actually expected that you will talk about your product. Your attendees are there to learn how to become better users or they are evaluating whether or not your product is right for their organization.

At Lunch & Learns, you have the opportunity to demo your product, establish a more personal relationship with the people in the room and establish a local community of users.

When thinking about where to host your Lunch & Learn, make sure you consider a venue that is easy to get to and has the right tech set up for presentations. This is a great opportunity to show off your office space. You can also consider asking one of your customers to host or booking a local co-working space. Remember that this format is a little less formal and is really about creating and developing your user community.

Lunch & Learns are an impactful format because your attendees are engaged users and/or engaged prospects that are really looking to learn about your product and how it can benefit or continue to benefit their company. You are also building the foundation for a strong user community.

Virtual Events

“Virtual events are the first step to capturing audience attention - be they webinars, virtual conferences, or learning centers - and extending your brand’s values.” - It’s Time to Wake up Your Brand, ON24

We love virtual events and find a lot of value in producing webinars. Webinars are currently the biggest inbound lead driver for Banzai. They are super scalable and can reach large audiences. Virtual events are not just webinars. You can host an entire conference virtually. You can also host live streams or Q&A or AMA events.

Virtual events really make an impact when it comes to reaching a large, target audience. You are creating a great learning opportunity that your attendees can participate in from their desk at work. You are also generating quality leads that you can continue to nurture through your sales cycle.

What event format are you using the most? We would love to hear from you. Let us know on Twitter @getbanzai.

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