Take a look at these 10 real life event ideas that will help you strategize your next customer training events.
It's 2019 and customer education is a big deal. The more your target audience knows about the products your company sells and how to use them, the better. That's why we suggest hosting customer training events. In this article, we cover what customer training events are, why they're beneficial, and 10 ideas from leading brands you can actually use to make sure your next training is a success.
What is a Customer Training Event?
A customer training event is exactly what it sounds like: an event that trains customers to use a company's products. They're also known as workshops, bootcamps, and seminars (depending on the company hosting them) and serve as a solid bottom of the marketing funnel content type.
Many well-known companies have and continue to hold these kinds of conferences including HubSpot, Amazon, and ServiceTitan. Why? Because they're incredibly valuable! Let's dive deeper into that:
Why are Customer Training Events Valuable
Customer training events are valuable for many reasons. For example, they allow you to interact with your company's customers and learn more about them. When you understand your target market, you can work on delighting customers, improving customer satisfaction, and achieving the flywheel effect over time.
Customer training events also tend to boost customer retention rates, which makes sense. Customers who understand how to effectively use a tool are typically less inclined to switch to a different solution — a solution they probably aren't as familiar or proficient with.
Customer Training Event Ideas
Now that we know what customer training events are and why they can be so beneficial to your company, let's look at a few ideas you can use to make your next customer training event a smashing success.
1. Offer Certifications
Customers love certifications. Why shouldn't they? A certification is proof to a current boss, a future employer, and to one's self that product proficiency has been achieved. So try to add a certification element to your next customer training event.
That's what Google did with their Google Cloud Next event in April 2019. The conference was loaded with tons of keynote speeches and breakout sessions. But Google also made sure that attendees could take certification exams if they wanted to.
2. Nail Your Venue
Where you host your customer training event is very important. It needs to be big enough to fit your attendees comfortably. It also needs to be a space they'll enjoy being in for hours at a time and that includes having access to the proper technology requirements. Projectors, wireless internet, and plenty of electrical outlets are a must for most trainings.
Many of the ServiceTitan Bootcamps are hosted at the ServiceTitan Headquarters in Glendale, CA. This makes it easy for them to ensure every little detail - from room decor to technology specs - is perfect for their training events. But don't worry if your office isn't suited for hosting customers. Just make sure that the space you choose meets your unique needs.
3. Bring in the Right Instructor
The instructors and/or speakers you book to teach your customer training events matter. You need to select people who have an intimate knowledge of your industry and products. Your instructors should also be people that your customers respect and want to learn from. That doesn't mean they need to well-known. But they do need to have something — credentials, experience, name-recognition, etc. — that will get your target audience excited to attend your event.
The team over at IHS Markit does a great job with this at their Petrochemical Industry Fundamentals events. These one-day trainings focus on the very niche industry of petrochemicals. As such, IHS Markit makes sure to bring in qualified, industry veteran speakers that those in this field will feel comfortable learning from.
4. Host Training Events in Multiple Locations
AWSome Day is coming to Houston! Join us for a one-day step-by-step introductory training event on the core AWS services & meet our experts one-on-one. https://t.co/a5RGdmd2WW pic.twitter.com/la7eA38Hjn— Amazon Web Services (@awscloud) April 19, 2018
This tip may not be feasible for every company. It costs a lot of time and money to host even just one event. So we understand if hosting multiple trainings in different cities around the world is unattainable for you right now. But if your organization has the resources and an international customer base, this tactic is an excellent way to reach more of your audience.
Think about it: unless you own or manage a local company, you likely serve many customers outside of your own city. If the customer training events you plan always take place in your town, there will be a large portion of your audience that won't be able to attend due to travel restrictions.
Hosting workshops closer to their area eliminates this issue for them. That's why big companies like Amazon host event series in various cities. AWSome Days is a good example. These free, one-day events are hosted in many cities around the world and teach attendees how to use the AWS cloud.
5. Make it a Free Event
Speaking of free events, why not host a training workshop and get rid of the price tag? After all, the point of these gatherings is to educate customers not to make a profit, right? So explore the possibility of a free event. Can your company swing it? It may take extra effort and planning. But if you can pull it off your customers will definitely appreciate it and more of them will try to attend.
A good example of this strategy in action is the Today at Apple event series hosted at Apple retail locations everyday. If you're not familiar with these events, they're free in-store trainings that teach attendees how to use Apple products or how to accomplish specific tasks using Apple tech. For instance, the Photo Skills session teaches attendees how to take better pictures using their iPhone devices. Imagine what this kind of free event would do for your customers and how much new business you could get from even one of these trainings.
6. Take Your Training Online
Who says all of your customer training events have to be live and in-person? Online and virtual events have grown in popularity over the past few years and there's no reason why you can't host a successful digital training.
These kinds of workshops have multiple benefits. First, more of your customers will be able to attend because they won't have to worry about travel arrangements. Second, they're generally cheaper for companies to host because they don't have to rent a venue. And third, it's very easy to record digital trainings and then repurpose the content down the road. The lessons can be added to a training library, used as an incentive to help sell additional products, and more.
If you're looking for a great example of a digital customer training event, look no further than Slack Sessions. The SaaS company offers many live trainings throughout the year on topics related to their product. Customers can tune in and watch these trainings from the comfort of their own homes or offices. Slack also records each session and makes them available as on-demand trainings after the event has concluded, an evergreen content strategy that goes a long way towards building their SEO.
7. Focus on a Relevant Industry Topic
Source: Jibe Group
When looking for corporate event ideas — including ideas for customer training events — we always recommend taking a look at Salesforce. The company behind mega conference Dreamforce knows a thing or two about hosting a successful gathering. So it's no surprise that its Basecamp event series makes this list.
Basecamp is a successful customer training event because it focuses on a specific topic (customer success) and how Salesforce products can be used in this industry, rather than just the company's products themselves. It's a subtle difference but an important one.
What problem does your company's offerings solve? When you have your answer, plan an event around that issue and how your products remedy it.
8. Make it Hands On
Source: Nebular Cloud
The best customer training events almost always have a prominent hands-on element. This probably isn't a surprise. If you want to teach somebody how to use a product — whether it's a piece of software or a new, high-powered vacuum cleaner — the general consensus is that putting the product in their hands and walking them, step by step, through the operation of it is the best possible way.
That's what industry titan Microsoft does with its Microsoft 365 Training Day. Each event focuses on a specific topic related to Office 365 (one of Microsoft's flagship products), and teaches customers how to use the software in different scenarios. The event's registration page stresses the need to BYOL (bring your own laptop) so that customers can get first-hand knowledge of the tool and how to use it effectively.
When planning your next customer training event, do your best to add hands-on elements and give your customers the absolute best opportunity to learn to use your company's products successfully.
9. Send Instructors to Your Customers
So far in this article we've talked a lot about convenience and how it would behoove your organization to ensure its customer training events are easily accessible by their target audience. You can do this by hosting workshops in multiple locations, recording them and making them available online, and by eliminating admission fees.
Or, you could follow HubSpot's lead and offer to send your instructors to your customers rather than having them come to you. The HubSpot Classroom Training series has this option. For a set price, a company can host a private classroom training with a certified HubSpot instructor who will travel to their location and teach them how to use the HubSpot suite of services.
Customers appreciate having this option because it makes things easier for them; they don't have to travel, rent hotel rooms, or spend extra money at restaurants. Instead, they can show up to their normal place of business, learn from certified instructors, and return to their everyday lives afterwards.
10. Make it a Big Deal!
Source: Channel Buzz
And finally, there's nothing wrong with going all out and making your customer training events a big deal. In fact, if your company has the resources to do this, it may be the best option. If you're able to make your training workshops fun, exciting, and/or something your customers can't wait to attend year in and year out, you'll see more B2C and B2B event marketing success!
That's why we love Hitachi Next, a large data conference that delivers information on how to better use Hitachi's products along with general details on the state of the data industry. The company spares no expense and brings together well-known speakers, plenty of networking opportunities, and top entertainment — for the 2019 conference, the internationally famous band Fitz and the Tantrums will be performing.
Key Takeaways: Customer Training Events
Customer training events are important event types and your company should definitely consider hosting them. Here’s what you should keep in mind when you do:
1. The Customer Always Comes First: We are talking about customer training events after all. So always keep your customers in mind when planning a training event and ask yourself, "Will this workshop benefit them?" and "How can we make this event more valuable to our customers?" The answer may be to host events online rather than in person. Or maybe you send instructors to your customers rather than the other way around. Whatever you do, put the customer first and you can't go wrong.
2. Don't Get Too Attached to a Specific Spot: As we saw in the section above, different companies take different approaches to event location. Some send their instructors to their customers. Others host trainings in different cities around the world. And still others post their trainings online so that their customers can consume the content on their own time. The point? Don't get too attached to a specific location. Host your customer training event where it makes sense for your customer base and don’t be afraid to change locations if needed.
3. Typical Event Best Practices Still Apply: Just because you aren't hosting a mega conference with thousands of attendees, platinum sponsors, and different ticket types doesn't mean you can neglect typical event best practices. Your speakers, content, and event venue are just as important as ever — so choose them wisely!
Before you plan your next customer training event, make sure to invest in event software. It will help you manage every aspect of your event strategy, from event marketing to event engagement. Don't host another conference or training session without it!