CAMP Systems’ EJ Schmidt and Lita Carpenter are two people you want to hear from when it comes to rebranding and rejuvenating.
With over 30 years’ combined experience in the marketing world, EJ and Lita have made many changes to digital marketing practices for ILS (Inventory Locator Service) — the largest B2B marketplace for the Aviation industry.
We caught up with them for a step-by-step walkthrough of how they’re driving change through virtual events (with the help of an awesome event management platform 😉).
Ready for takeoff? Let’s dive in!
CAMP is owned by worldwide media conglomerate Hearst, which acquired ILS from Boeing in 2019.
ILS provides the largest worldwide digital marketplace and aerospace business intelligence services for buyers and sellers of parts, equipment and services in the commercial and defense aerospace industry. As a global brand that was created over 40 years ago and owned for over a decade by the world's largest aerospace company, by the time ILS became part of CAMP Systems, it was in need of a marketing reboot.
That’s where EJ and the team came in, with a mission to update, rejuvenate and accelerate outreach in an industry that’s over a century old.
Tasked with rejuvenating ILS’s go-to-market (GTM) strategy and accelerating their outreach program, EJ and Lita set to work on a post-acquisition brand transformation.
“ILS has been around for forty years and the brand had faded — while the interior site (the marketplace) saw continued investment, our corporate website was old and at times we were not the most contemporary brand for new audiences. More importantly, we were not the most audience engaging brand,” says EJ.
And just as they were gearing up for a new GTM lift-off, Covid hit. 🤦
But Lita and EJ weren’t going to let anything — let alone a global pandemic — stop them. Instead, they focused on ways to combine their initial rebranding challenge with a new one:
The team at ILS had to figure out how to engage and inform a newly challenged aviation industry and position the brand as a thought leader within the community.
“With the pandemic affecting the aviation industry as hard as it did, there was tremendous uncertainty in terms of outlook, buying behaviors, continuing operations and how to benefit when recovery started. All of a sudden, you have an even greater need to inform the community," says EJ.
As the CMO leading the new strategy, he knew they’d need something different to overhaul the brand and fill that knowledge gap: including a forward-thinking series of virtual thought leadership events that would deliver contemporary content to a global audience, from the safety of their own home offices.
Building on ILS’ CONNECT Conference brand going virtual 2.0 .
“Our event strategy went completely virtual. We held a whole slew of thought leadership, practical-oriented events. And then we had our annual Connect Conference — it’s a very high quality, comprehensive event and we needed an environment that we could work with in a much more agile way.” And, EJ and Lita knew they’d also have to prove their virtual event was having the desired effect.
Working within such a concentrated industry, and with a focus on brand and relationship & influence building, EJ and Lita measure success using pipeline influence measured by a year-on-year increase in both the number of registrations, the number of attendees from target accounts and, over time, marketing generated or marketing-influenced pipeline contributions.
“In our business, revenue targets for events like these don’t really work. Instead we have a set of goals to meet including having more registrations, more quality attendees than we had the prior year, geographic goals, etc. We also have a target set of key accounts from larger companies that we focus on trying to attract to register and attend, and for all companies to ensure we continue the relationship and engagement - ultimately driving new signups as well as increased retention and x/up sell opportunities” EJ explains.
But the team’s first experience with a virtual event platform left them unsatisfied and they needed to find an event hosting platform that would meet their audience’s expectations for this virtual conference, as well as ongoing thought leadership events.
“The customer experience wasn't great with our prior provider ― even our keynote speaker wrote to say that the platform was not a good experience. The provider was only available on the day of the event, we constantly had to work with different support staff, we had to record everything in advance and stage it on their proprietary platform… it was not good for our audience and not good for our team.”
In order to attract the targeted attendees they were after, EJ and Lita knew they’d need a platform that could deliver on attendee experience.
EJ and Lita went back to the drawing board to look for a provider that offered a more relationship-driven approach.
“If we’re going to put the time investment in anyway, it'd be nice to put that to work for future events as well,” explains EJ. “And the traditional tools we used wouldn't scale to the needs of the audiences that we wanted to cater to, so we started to look around, doing the usual thing of checking out public sources and — most important — check in with other CMO peers.”
He and Lita planned to use the information chasm created by Covid to rebrand ILS as thought leaders within the industry, providing both the contemporary content and event experience the aviation community would benefit from after a turbulent 18 months.
But to achieve these visionary goals, they needed an event platform that would offer:
Luckily, EJ and Lita received some strong referrals from fellow CMOs with real virtual event experience.
And, pretty quickly, they found Goldcast.
“It was critical for us to engage with our audience and actually, we did so better than we had done before. Because it was all virtual, we could now reach audiences all across the globe. And, secondly, we could do it live or we could do it on demand ― there's great utility in that,” says EJ.
“We started asking people in the CMO scene what their experiences were and who they had worked with. They came up with a couple of names, but Goldcast stood out.”
With Goldcast’s experience-driven platform, EJ and Greg delivered a truly memorable event during one of the most challenging times for their aviation audience.
Impressive attendance and engagement rates are the results every field marketer is looking for.
But for EJ and Lita, finding a platform that could produce those numbers and free up their time to focus on content was what they really needed.
And Goldcast’s awesome support got them off to a great start.
“For everybody else the model was, ‘If you want customer service and support on the day of your event, you're going to have to pay extra — even for the basics’, which made me question why you wouldn’t want to be there for your customer on their critical day? But with Goldcast, it was different,” recalls EJ.
In fact, Goldcast’s support extended beyond ILS’ staff, to their speakers too.
“We were able to quickly and a little less painfully, train and guide speakers through the process, what to do and where to click — which was very helpful for those still adjusting to virtual,” says Lita.
The high level of support allowed the team to focus on creating A+ content and keep attendee engagement levels sky high — which also meant a big boost in their attendee numbers.
“We had a target set of key accounts from larger companies that we were focused on trying to attract, and we were able to get a good portion of those key people to attend — 45% of attendees were new prospects, which was consistent with our objectives.”
But the Goldcast perks didn’t stop there.
“One of the most helpful features was the integration with HubSpot, which enabled the handling and tracking of registrations,” Lita continues. “There were a couple of providers that could offer this, but they were further behind in terms of the maturity of their integration.”
The team also leveraged the integration to schedule all pre-event emails, saving precious time in the lead-up to the event.
“The ability to take our email templates, designs and formatting and transpose them onto the emails that Goldcast sends out makes everything flow. From a user experience perspective it feels like everything was being run by us, even though Goldcast was doing the heavy lifting.”
Goldcast’s unique customization features were also a huge win for the team, with Lita and EJ not only using them as a way to rejuvenate the ILS brand, but also as a method of engagement.
“With Goldcast, you’re able to customize your event to look the way you want it to, very slick and easy to navigate. In the depths of Covid, we saw several other platforms and they were not intuitive. All of Goldcast’s capabilities helped our virtual event come together and helped us in support of our brand strategy. By the numbers, it clearly impressed our attendees and caught their attention.”.
And there’s no denying it was a pretty successful tactic.
“Point in case: we had modest hopes for the level of engagement at our product deep dive and Q&A at the end of Day 2. But actually, it was a very interactive session that lasted the full time we allocated to it. Those engagement levels were contrary to our initial expectations.”
With the groundwork covered, EJ and Lita are ready to utilize Goldcast to expand their event reach even further.
“Our business is global, but there's only so much you can cater to in-person. This year we had a fair bit of European attendance, and our attendees in Asia will have access on demand. These audiences are very important for us,” explains EJ.
With ‘arm around the shoulder’ support from Goldcast, combined with the easy-to-use platform, EJ and Lita were able to re-focus on their initial goals of rejuvenating the brand.
Here’s how EJ sees it:
“Brand building is a long game — just like relationship building, but there are a couple of key milestones. For us, the conference is a major milestone. It allows us to communicate our roadmap, be associated with and present thought leaders to our community, and offer a contemporary experience that makes people think ‘Yeah, this is engaging. This is great content, I want to learn more. And this is a community worth being a part of’”
As we settle into the ‘new normal’, the aviation industry is set to rebound. And that means our marketing pros, EJ and Lita, have their work cut out providing events to keep the global industry connected and informed.
“One of our team members had an urgent family commitment, and Goldcast just stepped in and said, ‘Yeah, no worries, we got you covered’. It's that customer centric mindset, that way of thinking, combined with the quality of the product and the staff, that made it an outstanding experience.”
With the help of Goldcast, the Connect Conference set the bar high.
“The event received a lot of visibility ― Hearst execs saw our results and we are very proud of the event we delivered,” says EJ.
Goldcast exceeded all expectations ― providing the time-saving features and expansion opportunities the team at CAMP Systems had been searching for, not to mention the support they lacked with previous providers.