This article is a transcription from our flagship podcast, Customer Marketing Catch-up. You can listen to the full conversation with Ari Hoffman and Robert Maddox here

Throughout my career, I've worked in customer experience, engagement, and advocacy roles across various sectors like startups, political campaigns, hospitality, brick-and-mortar businesses, and enterprise software.

But one thing that connected each of these roles? The countless events I've created and hosted to connect with customers.

Right now, my focus is on relationship building and influencing shared outcomes as a Customer Advocacy & Community Manager at Delinea, a leading PAM provider and cybersecurity solution. 

In my years of experience, one of the most impactful things I've learned is the immense value of connecting customers directly with product teams. 

By facilitating this connection through engaging customer events, we gain invaluable insights, forge stronger relationships, and fuel customer-led growth. 

Let me share some of my approaches with you today …

The idea behind customer events:

The inspiration for my customer events stems from my diverse experiences across multiple industries. I prefer high-touch engagement when interacting with customers, vendors, and community members. 

Having created various events before, I have a wide range of event formats, infrastructure, and playbooks to draw from.

However, the foundation stays the same - always collaborating with internal teams to understand their goals, desired results, and how we can support each other. 

As Ari Hoffman, VP of Customer Marketing & Advocacy at Influitive, explained, 

"Often the product team can feel so removed from the customer...what Rob is doing is really connecting and building that bridge, so that the product team understands who they're building for."

Most crucially, I validate my strategies by asking customers if they want to attend events like webinars led by product managers and support technicians. 

At Delinea, our customers overwhelmingly stated their interest, which then allowed me to socialize this data internally and get teams to voluntarily opt into my customer engagement initiatives.

Looking for our upcoming events? Check out the full calendar here

Motivations for customer events:

For me, the primary motivation behind customer events is enhancing the customer experience. 

As Ari Hoffman neatly put it, "Experience is wonderful, and you focus on that first, and the byproduct is the revenue that follows, because that's a human first approach."

Of course, different teams have different motivations—product needs customer feedback, marketing wants content input, and customer success seeks insights. 

But, I've found that a customer-first approach through events can help execute everyone's goals.

Ultimately, as customers interact more with us through events, they build trust, rapport, and a desire to expand their relationship with our company organically, without a pushy sales agenda.

Planning and collaborating with product: 

When planning customer events, I collaborate with product teams to understand their needs upfront. However, I prioritize the customer's perspectives above all else — what do they want, and how can we create value for them?

While product marketing handles demand gen and new logos, I focus on increasing renewals, customer advocacy, and delivering an exceptional experience. 

So my customer-first approach resonates because it supports everyone's objectives through the "omni-directional" advocacy program.

I work closely with product marketing, cross-posting their content and identifying customer advocates to spotlight. My events nurture customers to feel comfortable telling their stories, building crucial brand trust and familiarity with our teams and products.

Getting buy-in from product teams is an ongoing journey. While I'm self-sufficient in producing events, I collaborate with them early to incorporate their ideas and desired outcomes. 

Making it about the customer first and showing how their participation will benefit customers is key to getting teams on board.

The impact of customer events:

The positive impact of customer events is clear from the remarkable results and feedback we've received. For example, when the product and sales teams needed beta testers for a new integrated security platform, I proposed a webinar inviting qualified customers.

With over 200 attendees that day, I exceeded their target of 25 beta testers by Thanksgiving, getting 10x more signups than they'd received through their previous process over an entire month.

"Rob's on the forefront of that with pushing these types of events," Ari Hoffman remarked about the success.

More recently, our quarterly product summit featuring roadmap overviews and executive insights from various product pillars hit over 500 customer attendees—a company record. 

Seeing the engagement on these calls, with customers asking questions and helping each other alongside our teams, showcases the power of customer events to provide success and support at scale.

Ultimately, customer events help uncover real market trends and customer needs, fueling customer-led growth. The future of growth is customer-led, and we really need to tap into those insights to have the same growth that we want.

Hosting customer events prevents that costly pitfall by keeping us laser-focused on our customers' reality.

4 key lessons learned:

Through years of experience producing customer events, I've learned some invaluable lessons:

1) Stay nimble

Especially when starting a customer marketing or advocacy program, get customers together quickly, even if it's a rapid meetup before getting full internal buy-in. 

As Ari Hoffman advised, "You’ve got to put it out, you can't test and iterate if it's not out in the world."

Showing customers your active presence and desire to engage builds rapport and morale. Then, as the program matures, increase planning and alignment around objectives.

2) Prioritize accessibility

Ensure the customer experience is smooth and interactive by evangelizing the program's value internally, like through company all-hands or AMAs. 

"Make them the heroes of the story...when you do that, many, many more people will circle around you," Ari Hoffman shared.

3) Continue the conversation

When customers expressed happiness at getting direct access to product experts through my webinars, I made that the new standard with over 100 attendees per event. 

Then, I leveraged our customer database and an advocacy hub to facilitate ongoing 365-day engagement.

"Don't ever, if you hold an event with customers, and customers give you feedback, don't let it go out with no communication," Ari Hoffman emphasized. "That's the fastest way to burn customers out and let them feel like this is a waste of my time."

4) Build internal advocacy first

An experimental tactic I'd revisit is starting with 3-6 months of internal employee advocacy to test strategies before rolling them out externally. 

Hosting fun company events and happy hours got colleagues excited to replicate similar experiences for customers.

"When you're open like that with your customers, it is amazing how much feedback you get from them," Ari Hoffman said about transparent iteration. Applying that mindset internally first could be powerful.

In essence, customer events create a mutually beneficial flywheel—by fostering great experiences for customers, they become advocates for your brand, reinforcing the cycle of feedback, product refinement, and growth. 

It takes practice, but the rewards of true customer-led success make it incredibly worthwhile.


Throughout my career, I've seen firsthand how impactful customer events can be for connecting customers with product teams, unearthing vital insights, and catalyzing customer-led growth. 

At their core, these events enhance the human experience through engagement while tangibly benefiting our business's bottom line.

Whether you're just starting a customer marketing program or are a seasoned veteran, I encourage you to embrace customer events as a powerful channel. 

Learn from my lessons—stay nimble yet strategic, prioritize accessibility and follow-through, foster internal advocacy, and always prioritize the customer first!

Listen to the full episode down below!

Robert Maddox | How to connect your customers to the product team using events | Customer Marketing Catch-up
We talk to Robert Maddox, Customer Advocacy & Community Manager at Delinea, on how to connect two sides of the product lifecycle with your customer and product team through events.