Founded in 1913, Balfour is well known for its long and successful history of the manufacturing, sales and marketing of class rings, yearbooks, letter jackets and graduation regalia to middle school, high school and college students and alumni. The company employs more than 1200 people in more than 10 facilities across North America.
Balfour’s National Sales Meeting is not a new event. With a continually expanding product line, the company has been relying upon this annual conference to bring together its salesforce of independent contractors (currently 400+ reps) for more than 50 years. Held in a different location annually, it’s a homecoming of sorts, a chance for colleagues across the nation to gather, recognize success and learn about new products.
Key to that mission is forming a deep connection between event attendees — a select group of individuals who are chosen for their ability to put the ideas gathered at TEDxBrisbane into action long after the festival is over. “We want ideas shared, connections made, and plans forged among audience members, speakers and the team that lead to an exciting change in the community,” Wheeler explains. “Our community is made up of people crazy enough to believe we can change the world, and we’re not kidding around.”
But last year, Balfour’s Director of Corporate Communications and Events Amanda Reynolds decided to give the sales meeting the equivalent of an attendee-experience facelift. It was time, she decided, to introduce an event app.
“The National Sales Meeting is about recognition, education and motivation,” Reynolds says. “We want to train and inspire reps to get out there and promote our products and build their book of business. A successful event is one where reps leave feeling like they’re better prepared to sell, service and win than they did when they arrived.”
In the past, the biggest roadblock to making that happen was keeping attendees informed of all the event details. “Communication is huge,” Reynolds says. “Just making sure everybody knows what’s happening and where it’s happening…that’s something we’ve always struggled with.” The event team also wanted to be able to more easily inform attendees of last-minute changes, recognize sponsors and seamlessly distribute session content.
It was time to embrace event technology, Reynolds thought. And she had a solution in mind.
Balfour’s Marketing and Education team was already using the Attendify event app for its yearbook workshops. “Our Education team had nothing but great things to say about the tool,” Reynolds says.
No stranger to the world of event apps, Reynolds had used another company’s solution previously, and was not impressed. “One year we used a company where we couldn’t edit anything ourselves,” she explains. “We had to submit all of the changes to them, so we were constantly waiting on updates.”
The price was also right. “The Attendify event app price was lower than some of the other companies we looked at,” Reynolds says. “One company quoted us a $30,000 commitment because their app was expressly built for multiple events. We said thanks, but no thanks.”
Finally, with features including interactive maps, gamification, push notifications and a private social network, the Attendify app had everything Reynolds’ team needed to effectively engage attendees.
In a major coup for an event using the technology for the first time, more than 85 percent of attendees at the Balfour National Sales Meeting downloaded the event app. “Attendees were able to easily access the schedule and see what the sessions were all about, instead of just walking blindly into what they were going to be learning,” Reynolds says. Event sponsors loved that the app allowed them to interact more with the audience, she adds.
What’s more, because the app helped her team automate and facilitate attendee interactions in advance, they “realized a 50 percent productivity increase this year,” Reynolds reports. “We could do a lot of the work ahead of time and just really enjoy the meeting.”
The event organizers also had more time to make the meeting enjoyable
for attendees. “We used some of the features to surprise and delight our attendees,” Reynolds shares. “When new reps arrived, we sent them special messages. We thanked our vendors for coming. And we were able to set it up all in advance, so we looked so efficient and thoughtful.”
The Next Steps
As Balfour plans for next year’s National Sales Meeting, communication with attendees will continue to be a critical priority. “Next year’s meeting will be very training focused,” Reynolds says. “It will be, ‘this is our product, here’s everything you need to know about how to use it, now go out and sell it.’
And as they continue to innovate new products and features, the Attendify team is thrilled to partner with Balfour in producing an event app that inspires, informs and delights.
“We were really excited to have this addition [of the app] to the meeting,” Reynolds says. “We heard great feedback and it was so much fun. I don’t think we’ll ever do a meeting without one again.”