In 2008, I worked with a few savvy technology vendors to launch their products online in a virtual event. We called these “virtual launch events”. They were hugely successful – the vendors generated a slew of net new sales leads, educated prospects and customers about the features of the new product and connected employees, executives and channel partners directly with the same prospects and customers.
Because all users participated online, costs were efficient and the participation was highly convenient. Additionally, the vendors and their partners were able to achieve deep (online) engagement with prospects, including in-depth text chats regarding the products.
If you’re considering a virtual launch event of your own for 2009, here are my Top 3 best practices:
- Encourage participation from your partner ecosystem – your resellers, consultants, etc. should have booths at the event. This reinforces the full “value chain” of your product – showing prospects that your solution is backed by an assortment of partners who sell the product and provide valuable services around it. Secondly, you can recoup some of the costs of the event by charging your partners to exhibit. After all, they’re receiving sales leads as a result of participating.
- Active participation from your executive team – have the SVP or GM of your product officially launch the product via video – prospects and customers will apprecitate the personal connection of video (vs. slides and audio). In addition, have the same exec(s) participate in the booths and networking areas, connecting directly with attendees. Customers and prospects highly value direct access to your executivies. And, your SVP or GM will find the experience valuable, since they’d likely admit that they’d like to get out in front of clients more often. Finally, a successful event makes you a hero in front of the SVP/GM.
- Bring an independent voice – you probably have relationships with analyst firms (e.g. Forrester, Gartner). Have a prominent analyst give her perspective on the product you’re launching and what it means for your market. This independent voice helps complement all of your (and our partners’) presentations.
Best of luck on your 2009 launches!