Why “Lean Coffee” is the Hot New Format for Innovative Virtual Events

Are you facing increased competition for webinar attendance? It’s time to innovate! To gain an edge, you must outperform with your virtual events. One way to do so may be to innovate beyond conventional webinar formats.

That’s what makes an exciting new virtual format such important news. Find out why innovators love “Lean Coffee” in this recorded Art and Science of Virtual Events webinar. This episode is part of the ongoing Success Series of webinars brought to you by the marketing experts at Virtual Intelligence Briefing


Listen in as Tom Riddle, director of survey and research solutions at ViB, reveals everything you need to know about Lean Coffee.

Find out what makes this cutting-edge method a key to success. Tom will share with you: 

  • The key history of Lean Coffee
  • The winning Lean Coffee event format
  • How to suggest topics for your event  
  • The value to your attendees — and your company
  • Best ways to follow up with prospects


Lean software development is a framework of tried-and-true values, principles, and practices that drive Agile organizations. Tom explains that Lean Coffee started with Agile code development. Coders would gather for physical events. “These events started in Seattle coffee houses.” The events went so well that the organizers wanted to see if the method would also work for marketing and lead gen. The results? “An immediate success,” says Tom.

So what are Lean Coffee events for marketers? “They’re collaborative virtual event formats where your targeted personas attend,” Tom explains. “They vote on topics to discuss, and those topics are ones that are central to you, and also interesting to them.” At the end, meeting notes and action items are distributed to all attendees.

That collaboration makes Lean Coffee very valuable for directors and managers. You’re “right in the trenches,” Tom says, “with decision-makers and practitioners.” That means you’re learning directly from key personas about the challenges they face. 


Lean Coffee delivers high-quality leads along with rich context. “Because people are engaging in an enriching experience brought to you,” Tom explains, “it creates a very strong affinity with your brand.” And the high level of interest demonstrated by each attendee’s active participation “spells intent.”

You also gain valuable focus-group quality intelligence. “In a typical focus group, you’re coming with a list of questions” that you ask people to answer. “This is a more organic approach where you’re getting them talking about things that are important to them and important to you.”

Lean Coffee events also let your prospects share their insights with you. “It’s like a survey,” says Tom, “because you’re getting proof points from them.” This insight can be put to additional use for product development and thought leadership pieces. 


Selecting topics for a Lean Coffee event is collaborative. But it’s still important that the event fits your company goals. That’s why the event format includes a landing page with a starter list of topics suggested by you. “You want to guarantee that these topics are touched upon,” Tom says. Once attendees see example topics, they better understand the scope of the event and will suggest related topics.

And follow-up has never been so powerful. Because there’s rich documentation of what attendees said, along with key points and action items, “you develop deep intelligence,” Tom says. You come away with a list of “contextualized, high intent leads that you can follow up with.”


Put innovation to work for you. Find out more by listening to the entire episode, “Art & Science of Virtual Events – Innovate & Outperform with Tom Riddle.” Boost engagement in your virtual events and outperform your competitors — starting now. 

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