My Portland Event Takeaways
The best way to market your product is through show-and-tell, using content that shows potential customers how to use your products first-hand.
Video, step-by-step blogs or manuals do the trick, however, nothing beats face-to-face communication.
That’s why companies do large-scale user conferences (Hubspot’s Inbound) or multi-city roadshows (Birchbox 3-city Popup tour); to invite customers and potential prospects to experience their products and services. Once your audience is on-site, you have their full attention for several hours (ok, some of their attention, since they check their phones all the time.) You can use that time to do a deep-dive into your products. Get them to understand how you can help them grow their businesses. You can also offer discounts to drive point sales and capitalize on the immediacy of the event. However, doing a multi-city roadshow with attendance of less than 250 may not be relatively costly.
This is especially true when you host an event at a hotel or a convention center. Case in point: I attended a Shopify roadshow event in Portland this week. They did a targeted 4-city roadshow this year. Portland is their last stop of the year. Yeah!! Even though this event is free for attendees, there are some nice touches and cost-effective solutions that caught my attention.
Open space with simple snacks and lunch
They hosted the event at Leftbank Annex, a Portland event venue. Depending on the amount of space, fees range from $1,500 to $5,000. Shopify offered free coffee, water, simple snacks and small sandwiches from a local coffee shop and bakery.
Total cost of food and the independent venue is certainly cheaper than hosting a similar event at a hotel.
Hotels can charge $20-$45 per person per meal for food. For a 200-person event, it can cost over $5,000 for one meal. Electing to go with an open office building and outside caterers is a cost-effective solution.
Paper-based name card and business-card like schedule
In general, badges are printed in advance on plastic or paper. If it’s a paper badge, it tends to be put in a plastic holder. Again, that’s additional prep work for the event staff. Plastic badges, a badge printer and plastic holders also cost money. It may not make sense for smaller-scale roadshows. Shopify staff greet attendees at the door, hand out a paper badge (no casing) and a marker (see below). You can write your name and share some information about your company or what you sell. Then, you proceed to the registration desk and give the staff your name. That’s it! The registration is simple and seamless.
There is no mobile app to check the agenda. It’s probably overkill, for a roadshow event.
They handed us a small 5” x 3.5” card. This works well for roadshows with 1-2 session tracks. Although paper-based badges and schedules are low-tech, they are well-designed to reflect its brand and add a personal touch.
I loved it!
Open space layout
In general, most events have three separate spaces: partner/sponsors booths, sessions (and keynote area) and networking space. Shopify used movable walls to divide the area into a workshop (session), experts (partner and vendors), gurus (hands-on training), networking and general store.
The expert (partner) area was interesting. We all had been to tradeshows where each sponsor brought their own set-up. The whole booth area looks cluttered and messy. Shopify brought their partners with them. They provide one long table for each partner to use as both workspaces and for signage, enabling them to advertise their company and offerings.
Attendees converse with partner around the table. The look-and-feel is consistent and clean without clutter. They use walls and big blocks to add a little color to the open space.
I like the clean and minimalist look throughout the open space. Moveable walls, simple white tables, and blocks are cost-effective solutions, yet stays true to its brand essence.
A Mix of Shopify and Partner Sessions and Workshops
The content they offer doesn’t just focus on selling Shopify. There are so many elements to consider to get your e-commerce site right.
They have Shopify-specific sessions and workshops to show how to open an online store, use Shopify apps, pull reports etc. They also offer educational sessions such as SEO, shipping management, e-mail, even DIY product photography. Overall, the content is very useful. Also,
each Shopify session is run by two presenters: one to presents while the other operates the computer. These two speakers alternate their roles as they show different features of the Shopfiy platform.
In summary… Shopify went public in May 2015.
Multi-city roadshows are a great go-to-market tactic to strengthen ties with existing customers and convert potential prospects.
Although I don’t use Shopify, I can see first-hand how easy it is to create an online store using its platform. I will certainly recommend this e-commerce tool if my clients have such needs. This event is casual with a laid-back vibe, yet packed with solid content and a call-to-action. Well-done, Shopify!