On Tuesday 19 May, Trellis along with some of our trusted partners, hosted our first live web event err webinar err virtual conference err online summit. We did a glorified Zoom call with about 250 people, ok? You get the idea.
In our Sisyphean effort to generate as much content as humanly possible during our respective quarantines, and to pat ourselves on the back for pulling off a very successful first pass at organizing live events, we have devised a brief but hopefully clever thought experiment for those looking to possibly launch their own talk series, webinar series, podcast, CYO basement death metal show…. again, you get the idea.
The thought experiment is very simple: Envision your live event series as a new minimally viable product offering.
That’s it, Dan? That’s the sage advice?
Yes! This is not just a platitude or an intentionally vague content stuffer!
Bear with me: When developing new software applications, developers follow methodical best practices such as test driven development and project management philosophies like Agile or Waterfall.
But the goal is to launch a product with as few bells and whistles as possible. “Get this out the door in a minimally viable state, and let users tell us what to design/develop next” is more or less the prevailing philosophy. You may have previously seen this sentiment articulated as “Ship it!” Or perhaps posed as a question in the form of: “Ever seen what the first iteration of Amazon.com looked like?” by innumerable agency hacks like yours truly, to prospects with dreams of launching a v3 level application out of the gate, user testing be damned.
I mention this because in our recent experience launching an event series, even development agency folks such as ourselves were fighting “feature creep” and the desire to have our first event be “cool” and “mature” and all of that stuff we hear prospects say when discussing their respective concepts and their desired features and functionality for their product’s launch. Thankfully, our CRO, Jared Shaner, and our Marketing PM, Kate Sears, were there to drive home this simple point to our team and our partners alike: This is the first go, let’s get it out the door. The baseline is covered and “it works,” we can make the next one better based on what we learn from our audience.
And because we focused on creating a minimally viable product, we now have universal templates and processes for many of the events’ core functions. And we know they work in practice, which is a huge advantage as we develop this program.
Hosting an event, whether at your private home or on conferencing software for your business network, is invariably an anxiety-producing and personal process for the host(s). One wants others to like the drapes, the hors d’oeuvre, and the conversation. Our advice is to introduce a bit of dispassion, much like a development team would. Does the product work in its minimally viable state? Can users access all the features and functionality and content? If the answers here are “yes” – Ship it!