The "Raving Fan" Strategy...
The Chinese may call 2007-2008 the "Year of the Pig," but for Microsoft partners, I am going to call it, "The Year of the Megaphone."
One of the primary, if not THE primary, reason that customers attend events is to network.
You have a unique platform as a service provider to bring like-minded customers together.
What can you do to make your events meet this objective for your customers?
My suggestion...give your best customers, your "raving fans" the opportunity to be highlighted at your event.
Instead of opening up your presentation with an "About Us" slide, how about getting the day started by saying...
"Before we get on to a discussion of the features of [insert product/solution], we want to introduce you to Joe Smith. Joe has been a customer of ours for XX years and he just finished a [product/solution] deployment. He's going to tell you the real deal on what's involved."
And then let Joe go crazy. Honest. Authentic. What worked? What was a headache? But if Joe's a passionate customer, you'll look good.
Actually, you'll look great, because Joe can do a better job of selling you than you can...any day of the week.
Who are your Raving Fans? Find them. Integrate them into your events.
Then, give them a megaphone!