Lessons Learned from launching The Everyday Innovator Virtual Summit
After hosting the 2020 virtual summit for product managers and product VPs, I’ve been asked many times for my lessons learned: what made it great, what would I do differently, what advice I have, what I learned about launching a product, etc.
Consequently, after answering several of these questions individually, I realized others would find value in the lessons learned as well.
That is what this podcast episode is about. It’s not my usual discussion format. Instead, I review the lessons learned from myself and my team that created and launched the summit.
By the way, if you still want to benefit from the incredible strategies and tips the summit speakers shared, along with the exclusive materials my team created, click here for 24+ expert masterclasses from top-of-their-field experts.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[1:38] Summit Lessons Learned Meeting
Just like after a product launch, I conducted a lessons-learned meeting with the Summit team to discuss:
- What worked (best practices)
- What to do differently (mistakes and insights)
- Building trust and empowerment in the team
[2:30] Context of the Summit
- Build awareness for The Everyday Innovator podcast
- Grow my email list in order to reach more people
- Prepare for a membership group for product managers and VPs
[3:11] Target Market: product managers and product leaders
[3:59] Why a virtual summit? I know people who have done virtual summits with similar objectives, and I already knew how to do interviews. It also provided learning experiences for me to prepare for a membership offering including video interviews and written materials.
- Followed the programs of mentors Navid Moazzez at Virtual Summit Mastery and Matt DeMeritt at Digital Summit Pros
- Assembled a team
- Developed a schedule
[5:58] Basic Flow of the Summit
- 25 sessions over 3 days
- Motivational keynote on first day
- New session published every hour
- Two tracks: product managers and product VPs
- Live chat-based discussion with me and many speakers all three days
[6:36] What worked?
[6:41] Vision: Anytime we’re thinking about a product, vision is a very important aspect of planning to get the team on the same page. After a lot of thought and interaction with others, I wrote a vision for the Summit that focused on professional development and learning for product managers and leaders.
[8:16] High quality speakers: Our speakers are experts in:
- Business innovation
- Customer research
- Product leadership
- And more
[9:30] Logo: We updated The Everyday Innovator logo for the Summit and created an animated version.
[9:51] Key Features
- Playbook: PDF of each speaker session including speaker bio, personal insight, innovation quote, and links to additional resources
- Written Speed Summaries of each session
- Action Guides for each session including discussion questions and actions to take
- MP3 files
- Interactive discussion for participants during the live Summit
- Speaker sessions: some presentations, some interviews
[11:24] Business model: When you’re developing a new product, you need to explore the business model, which is how you’re going to generate revenue.
- Free Summit: playbook, speaker sessions during the Summit, interactive discussion
- All-Access Pass: generated revenue; includes lifetime access to recordings, speed summaries, action guides, transcripts, MP3s, exclusive bonus questions and answers for each speaker
[13:52] Customer feedback: We surveyed attendees, including All-Access Pass customers, after the Summit. We found that our Net Promoter Score is 43, which is 3 points higher than BMW and only 2 points lower than Microsoft.
[14:24] Other decisions we were happy with:
- Pre-recorded sessions—technology worked
- Google Drive to track assets and Google Sheet to track speaker status
- OneNote to share speaker materials within the team
- Live Kickoff—I presented and had two moderators helping
- Email and social media messages planned ahead of time
- Upgraded server
- Interactive discussion on Disqus
- Speaker sessions on Vimeo
- Many speakers joined discussion
[18:34] What to do differently?
[18:42] Schedule: We packed a lot of sessions into just three days, and we received feedback that people wanted more time to watch the session recordings on their own time. Next time, we plan to spread the sessions over more days and make the recordings available for several days after the sessions are over. I would also like to add a live kickoff to each day to provide more interaction.
[20:04] Expectations: We would like to do a better job setting expectations for what the Summit is because we received comments like:
- “I hate interviews.” We had both presentation and interview sessions, and we needed to better communicate which are which.
- “I don’t know who this is for.” We’ll work on making our target audience more clear to customers.
- “I wish I could interact with the speakers.” Most of the speakers participated in interactive discussions, but some attendees weren’t aware of that or were unable to participate in the discussion at that time.
[21:54] Calendar tool: This tool was supposed to add each Summit session to your calendar, but some attendees reported issues with it. We need to test it better across many platforms.
[22:27] Email: We tested our email system, but didn’t monitor it thoroughly. On the first day, most of the reminder emails did not get sent because of a setting I was unaware of in the email management tool.
[24:32] Promotion: Overall, I was really happy with the organizations that promoted the Summit, and it worked out well for them because we had good coverage. However, some people we hoped would help promote it didn’t because I didn’t have an existing relationship with them. I learned to build relationships ahead of time. Next year, we might also use paid ads.
[25:20] Support: We used email and the interactive discussion, but I would like to also add a chat bot on the website.
[27:37] Timing of sessions: We would like to time the sessions so it’s convenient for the speakers to participate in the discussion during their sessions.
[25:59] Video and audio: We had some problems with the quality of the video and audio, so we’re continuing to investigate options to improve that.
[27:31] Key Takeaways
[27:33] Know your target market: Know who you’re serving and the segments within your target market, in this case, product managers and product leaders across industries.
[28:49] Know what your target market wants: Our market wanted high-quality speakers and interaction.
[28:56] Start with a clear product vision: The vision helps you see clearly what you’re trying to accomplish, and it’s a great communication tool with your team.
[29:28] Make the delivery fit customers’ availability: I would change the schedule of the Summit to better fit customers.
[29:34] Communicate the primary features clearly: I would clearly communicate when interaction is available.
[30:09] Provide appropriate time for planning and execution: Next time I would plan 6 months instead of 3 for planning, preparation, and promotion.
Thank you for being an Everyday Innovator and learning with me from the successes and failures of product innovators, managers, and developers. If you enjoyed the discussion, help out a fellow product manager by sharing it using the social media buttons you see below.