If there’s one thing you know about the IMPACT team, it’s that we’re not afraid of a challenge – especially if there’s a great payoff on the other side of it. We put that philosophy to the test over the last several months by planning and executing IMPACT’s first-ever conference, Brewing Marketing & Sales Success’16.
Our idea: create a one-day marketing conference unlike any other in the state of Connecticut. Here’s how it went down.
BMSS16’s Origin Story.
We came up with the idea for BMSS with the help of one of our clients and partners-in-crime, Tim Lynch, in March. That didn’t give us much time to get things off the ground and get the word out. Some people spend a full calendar year planning a conference like this, we decided to do it less than 3 months. Call us crazy, or call us motivated. We’ll accept both. The lightning bolt of an idea sounded like this:
Wouldn’t it be cool if we had a marketing event at a brewery? Yeah, and we could call it Brewing Marketing & Sales Success!
And that’s how BMSS was born. We selected Stony Creek as the venue because A) it’s beautiful, B) it was the only brewery in the area that could handle up to 150 people, and C) it was available.
Next we had to plan the content. We knew right away that Tom (DiScipio), Tim, and I would all be speaking. That was a good start, but we needed to round out the agenda and create more draw. That’s when I reached out to David Meerman Scott, Pete Caputa, and Luke Summerfield, all friends of mine, and luckily, they all agreed to join us for our BMSS on June 3.
We built out the rest of the event’s speakers with the likes of Karl Sakas, Michael Hurczyn, Allison DePaola, Scott Drozd, and Andrew Dymski. This group represents some of the best of the best. Our lineup consisted of great minds who could speak to the group and share their advice, insights, and business lessons, creating the energy we needed to host a day of idea exchange and knowledge sharing. But there was still a lot to be done.
The next few months were a grind as we worked to promote the event, sell tickets, build sessions, and choreograph all activities for the day – from lunch to seating to registration. It was a LOT of work. We pulled inspiration from some of the awesome conferences we had recently attended like ConversionXL Live, HubSpot Parter Day, and Experience Inbound. Getting ready for the event was a lot of work, but by June 3rd, BMSS finally arrived. IMPACT’s own Derrick Weiss just did a phenomenal recap of the event on our blog, digging into takeaway points from our speakers – you’ll feel like you were there.
Natalie Davis, Karisa Egan, and I did our own recap, focusing on what worked, what didn’t, and lessons learned. We also sat down to share our honest, candid thoughts on how the event went, what we could have done better, and what we’re planning for next year. Check out the video, then read through for our takeaway points on hosting our first conference ever.
- A great crowd.We drew 140 marketers, salespeople, and executives from all over the country, including Texas and California.
- #BMSS16. Our hashtag was trending on Twitter for most of the day. That means our 140 attendees were engaged, excited, and exchanging ideas.
- Nose goes on notes. The IMPACT team took notes on behalf of attendees, sharing extensive, detailed notes from each speaker in a Google Doc so they could focus on the presenters with zero distractions.
- Share the goods. Within a few days, we published the official notes, presenter slides, and event photos (which was met with many cheers from our attendees). Photos were provided by Jerome Braga of Studio 1923. Jerome, you crushed it – These photos are out of this world!
- Social networking. We setup a Facebook Group for attendees to meet and interact with each other before the event, and as BMSS started to get closer, it really started to gain momentum. Now, the group remains open as a space for attendees to continue connecting.
- Video evidence. The video production team, VBD Video, was outstanding. The videos are coming soon and should be released within the next 30 days, keeping both the energy of the event and the memories alive and well.
- Cardboard Marcus. We can’t forget about him. Cardboard Marcus was provided by Image360 of Newington and was one of the biggest hits of the day.
— Natalie Davis (@YesItsNatalie) June 3, 2016
What we loved.
- Teamwork. For me, my favorite part was the way that the IMPACT team came together to create an event that surpassed anyone’s expectations.
- Brews with a view. Stony Creek was a beautiful venue with the space, scenery, and beer we wanted for our guests.
- Hangovers, IMPACT-style. Natalie and Katie’s opening video killed it! If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out:
- Beards & brains. Tom’s session on sales crushed it (as we knew he would).
— Meredith Olmstead (@mlolmstead) June 3, 2016
— Shawn Fitzgerald (@sfitzgerald9) June 3, 2016
- Stool selfies. David Meerman Scott standing on a stool to take a selfie with everyone in the room. Luckily, he didn’t get hurt – we realized too late that it was a swivel stool.
- Lunch & learn. The boxed lunched were a hit – We had no lines while people were grabbing their lunch.
- Beer me. We served beer during the later sessions. no one argued with that!
Where We’ll Improve.
- My biggest thing: diversity. We need more diversity with the speakers. In all honestly, I didn’t even realize this until I published the agenda, which is 100% on me. We’re addressing this for future conferences.
- Accommodating all skill levels. We’ll need to create value for different attendees with different skill levels without turning into another typical marketing conference with skill-based breakout sessions.
- Registration matters. We definitely need to do a better job with collecting critical information from attendees when they purchase their tickets instead of scrambling sending emails and surveys at the last minute.
- Promoting swag. We had a lot of great free resources for our attendees, like the Free Video Training Course put together by the boys at DoInbound called “How to Think Like an Inbound Agency” or the Growth Readiness Scorecard – but we didn’t do a great job promoting these offerings at the event.
- The results are in, and we’ve noted the below for areas of improvement. From our survey feedback, we heard that…
- Seats were uncomfortable
- The coffee was a fail
- People wanted longer breaks
Plans for Next Year.
As of now, we haven’t selected a venue or date for next year – although there is a chance we’ll hold it at Stony Creek for another year. We do know that Marcus Sheridan of The Sales Lion has already agreed to be one of our featured speakers as has Tara Robertson of Hotjar, which we’re super excited about. We also know that we want BMSS to grow. Think we can get 250 marketers to attend?
What’s Next for BMSS.
- Gathering insights. We’re in the process of collecting and reviewing feedback from our attendees.
- Best practices. Natalie and I are documenting everything we did and building a playbook so the event is repeatable for next year and beyond.
- Calling all marketing and sales experts! We plan to start a call for speakers very soon.
- The bomb dotcom. Next year, we’ll have a fancy website for BMSS’17.
Did I miss anything? If you have feedback, rants, raves, or ideas for BMSS, share them with me in the comments below!