For many years, Macrovision held a user conference to connect with its primary customers. However, as Daniel Greenberg, VP-worldwide marketing and product management realized, “We were spending a lot of time and money preaching to the converted.”
His team recognized that the conference wasn’t really a forum that fostered an open dialogue between IT sellers and buyers. Plus, most shows in the space usually focused on one segment or the other, Greenberg said. “In looking at our conference more strategically, I decided to change it from being company-focused to more industry-focused, and at the same time help reposition us as the leader in our market.”
‘Birds of a feather’ discussions
The idea was not only to have one-way presentations by executives from both sides of the fence, but also to provide open-structured discussion sessions—which Macrovision calls “birds of a feather”—and open panel discussions, Greenberg said. “We wanted to provide the chance for these two communities to debate meaningful items and chart the future, identify key trends and the way both parties can work better together in the future.”
Macrovision dubbed this new event the SoftSummit and launched it in fall 2003. A primary goal of Soft- Summit was to increase Macrovision’s awareness and thought leadership in the technology industry.
“Macrovision has historically been one of the silent giants that is interwoven into the fabric of the technology industry,” Greenberg said. “We have software on 500 million desktops worldwide; we’re inside virtually every VCR and DVD player worldwide. A couple of years ago, nobody really knew about Macrovision, and SoftSummit has helped us to raise awareness and positions us as thought leaders. … We’ve inserted ourselves into the DNA of the future of the technology industry.”
Strong credibilty a key
One of the keys to the success of SoftSummit is its strong credibility, Greenberg said, which partly derives from bringing in several high-caliber speakers each year. “Last year, SoftSummit had keynotes from top people from Microsoft, PeopleSoft and General Motors; the 2005 event features SAP, Yahoo!, PepsiCo and Novell,” Greenberg said. “Having people of this stature has helped us attract the best of the IT community as attendees, as well as key software media and influential business reporters.”
How has the show done? Since 2003, it has continued to grow in size and prominence by building a reputation as the place where the software industry comes together to debate important ideas, Greenberg said. Hundreds of top-level IT executives attended last year’s event in Santa Clara , Calif. , which sold out in terms of sponsorship.
“The success of SoftSummit is best measured by the return rate for attendees, and we have, on a company basis, a return rate of close to 90%,” he said. “Now that may not be the same individual every time, but it’s the same level professional from the same IT group as the prior year. Attendance, sponsorships and media coverage have all increased dramatically over the last few years, and we expect another sold-out event in October.”