The 7 Steps to Nail Your Customer Event

By: Michael McEuen

When Should You Host Your First Customer Conference?

Often, it’s sooner than you think or when your team is comfortable. Jason Lemkin of SaaStr recommends you host one by the time you hit your 100-customer mark. Pulling off a great customer event involves putting a plan in place, thinking about the customer experience with every detail, and working together as a team.

Whether you’re a tiny startup, a mid-sized growth stage company, or an enterprise behemoth, you can use these seven steps to throw a memorable, dare-I-say, epic customer event.

Step #1: Choose a Goal

Setting a goal for your event is essential, which helps justify the cost to executives and rallies your team behind a central cause.

In the early stages of growth, your event will often not pay for itself in terms of sponsorships or closed-won revenue. Your goal doesn’t have to reach profitability; it can be more aspirational.

Example goals:

  • Ensuring your highest-paying customers receive an in-person touch with your executive team.
  • Increasing the adoption of your platform or specific features.
  • Promoting awareness and excitement over upcoming features on your product roadmap.
  • Getting customer feedback on current or upcoming products.
  • Creating a space for your customers to network and learn from one another.

Whatever the goal, it should be discussed with your CEO and Head of Finance. Signed off together.

Set an attendance target

Just as important as your central goal for the event, your team should decide on a target attendee count. Things to consider:

  • If it’s a physical event, what’s the venue’s total capacity?
  • Should your audience include a target percentage of your total customer base?
    i.e., we want 15 – 20% of our customers to attend the event.

    • Consider targeting a cross-segment of your customer base so you have representation across all your Ideal Customer Profile segments.
  • What is the budget you can afford to spend in the end?

Step #2: Choose the Format

Should your event be virtual or physical? Some things to consider:


  • Great for when you want to drive a new sales pipeline by inviting prospects.
  • Best for huge registration goals (1k+).
  • Great for businesses with customers across the globe (multi-national).
  • Lower registration-to-attendance rate.
  • Less expensive to host.

Consider using an online event posting platform like Hopin or Goldcast, which can handle hundreds to thousands of attendees without lag or disruption.


  • Better intimacy for customers to get to know your team.
  • Better engagement with the content since it requires physical presence.
  • More exclusive: a limited number of seats and VIP experiences.
  • Best format for attendee networking.
  • High registration-to-attendance rate.
  • More expensive to host and requires more logistics (travel, hotel, transport, food, fun).

If it’s your first conference, a small/intimate gathering of your customers is likely the best choice.

Step #3: Lock Down the Date and Venue

For more economical options for event space, look for hotels that offer business conference spaces or co-working spaces with an amphitheater. Larger conference centers increase costs due to staff union prices and upcharges for food.

Poll your customers

Before deciding on the city you’d like to host the event, create a survey for your customers and offer a few options. Seeing which place will draw the largest audience while balancing costs. For example, Phoenix is easily accessible for West Coast folks and cheaper than hosting in Los Angeles.

Set room blocks for hotels

To keep prices for your customers down, call hotels in your selected city and see if you can get a reduced rate for booking a block of hotel suites in bulk.

Consider including a fun activity

If you’re considering throwing a physical event, consider a fun activity like karaoke, a special happy hour, a cover band, or a magician.

Step #4: Set the Ticket Price

Travel expenses are usually the onus of the attendees. Outside of that, hotels, transportation, and food costs are sometimes included in the ticket price and, at other times, separate.

As a rule of thumb, if you can get all-in costs below $1,000, it may be worth considering an all-inclusive package to make the decision easy for your customers.

If you are in a more expensive city and all-in costs rise above $1,000, offering the conference pass at a standalone price might be best.

For your first event, your goal should be getting people to attend and removing hurdles. Consider an economical price, which is a no-brainer, and include an email template for non-executives to get buy-in approval from their superiors.

Step #5: Create a Central Theme

Creating a central theme for your event does several things. It…

  • Focuses your event content and speaker selection.
  • Creates a central narrative for the event.
  • Drives excitement and makes promotion easier.
  • Creates an excellent tie into your product.

When deciding on your theme, it should cover a few elements:
1) aspirations to help your customer get better at their job,
2) alignment with your company vision, and
3) tie into your product/solution’s strengths or roadmap.

Align your content

After nailing down your central theme, you’ll want to ensure the speaker tracks, promotional messaging, landing page, and repurposed content align with this theme.

Step #6: Promote the Event

Often, marketers feel they need to have everything locked in before promoting their conference: all the speakers, their content, and logistics figured out. This tends to create a scramble to push for ticket sales 1-2 months from the event, spamming your database.

Instead, think of promoting your event in waves. Create a landing page and ticketing support early, making it an iterative process.


Offer your most loyal and diehard customers an early bird discount price. Many will buy tickets before knowing all the speakers and schedules simply because they love your brand or product. This will provide momentum and cash upfront to help pay for hotel blocks.

Big speaker announcement

As your keynote and more well-known speakers emerge, promote them to increase excitement for the event and drive ticket sales.

A promotion schedule may look like this:

      1. a. Super early bird (1-3 months)
      1. b. Regular early bird (1-3 months)
        c. Regular registration (last 2-3 months)

Create a social promotional kit for your speakers so they can bring awareness and excitement to your promotion.

Evangelize promotion with Customer Success

Sending rough promotional emails to your customer base is a surefire way to decrease trust with your customers and CS team. Instead, create a mutual promotion plan with your Head of CS.

  • Have the initial emails come as a personal invite to the customer from the Customer Success Manager they have a relationship with.
  • Educate your CSM team on the event, the speakers, and the theme so they can promote it on customer calls and quarterly business reviews.

Step #7 Run the Event

You’ve planned your event, marketed it, and now you’re ready to rock. This checklist below will help you execute and follow up on a seamless event.

Event Logistics

Prep your speakers with detailed itineraries and offer dry runs to practice.

Coordinate gift bags for attendees at their hotel or the venue.

Send an email to attendees reminding them of the event location, how to check in, where the main lecture hall is, and the schedule.

Make sure you have the main contact information for the hotel, the venue, and IT/sound managers in case of emergencies.

Test the audio and visual equipment the day before with a run-through to ensure everything works.

Post-Event Follow-Up

Create a plan with your Customer Success Managers to follow up with attendees.

Send a survey to attendees on the program’s content, networking, and feedback to improve.

Share links to all the recorded content to all registrations.

Break out the best moments into snackable content and share them on social media.

Distill the best points from your speakers and use them to create blog content.

Host a post-mortem with your executive and marketing teams. Did you hit your goals? What went well, and what could be improved? Should you fund future events?

An Excellent Event Feels Smooth

Spending time together as a team to plan and break these steps into milestones will make things manageable and provide an experience that both your customers and internal employees will rave about.

Mike is a Senior Director of Demand Generation at Mainsail. He helps Mainsail’s portfolio companies build, optimize, and strengthen their demand generation & sales impact strategies.
More by Michael McEuen
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