Welcome to Event Marketers Live, a fast-paced series where we shake off the jargon and get real with the humans behind the scenes of our favorite B2B events and experiences.
In this episode, Kelly chatted with Ashley Keating, Director of Events & Field Marketing at CallMiner.
CallMiner believes that transformational business improvements happen when people dig beyond interactions to true understanding. They do this by extracting meaningful insights from customer interaction at scale and delivering the intelligence needed to help companies make better business decisions. Its comprehensive platform for conversational analytics is valued by wide-ranging industries, from retail to hospitality.
In this episode, Ashley shared insight on scaling a global events program, her perspective on the in-person versus hybrid event debate, and how she maintains a healthy work-life balance.
Ashley spoke about their annual UK event, Listen, which focused on their customers. The event took place in May, and it saw an excellent turnout.
In ruling out the live streaming option completely, the team did battle over whether or not to host a hybrid event. “In the end, we felt like you can't replicate an in-person event virtually, and we could make use of the restrictions being a little bit lighter at that time,” she noted.
When they were beginning to plan the event, they took the plunge, conceptualizing it completely as an “IRL” networking opportunity for their customers. Some of the sessions were then offered on-demand for customers who couldn’t make it.
The primary reason for hosting an in-person-only experience was simple—Ashley’s entire team wanted people to show up, enjoy being in-person for the first time in two years, and have the opportunity to meet and mingle with the company’s executive team.
They ultimately wanted to show their customers just how much CallMiner values them and highlight the resources that went into creating the event specifically for them.
It's always going to be hard to stay focused for two days straight in a virtual experience. By contrast, a face-to-face interaction with a brand’s top executives will always be invaluable for attendees.
Ashley shared that the event feedback showed the attendees did indeed benefit from being there in person and valued the entire experience curated by the team.
At CallMiner, we approach global events with a “divide and conquer” mindset.
According to Ashley, a large part of Listen’s success rested on the efforts of the UK team, the boots-on-the-ground folks instrumental in planning. “Ours is a global team, and we're all part of it. But I'm in the US, and there’s only so much I can do from over here,” Ashley elaborated.
Event marketers can always count themselves fortunate and lucky to have team members knowledgeable about a particular region. Their expertise can easily be leveraged, then, to sketch out localized event aspects such as entertainment.
CallMiner’s US team, for instance, could tap into the UK team to look at great options for a comedian based around Manchester for Listen, UK. They rallied to the purpose, and the hiring was a joint team decision. But, this is not something that Ashley or a US team member could have decided in isolation.
Another key area that Ashley leaned into the UK team for was the sessions’ content themselves. It’s important to pay attention to the differences in the use cases and the industries; take healthcare, for example.
The obvious differences between the US and the UK are essential to note. A regional team is always going to be far more knowledgeable in coming up with a session that focuses on healthcare as the audience will understand it.
Another thing to consider in scaling events globally is messaging. With the US and UK, for example, the marketing team must focus on the smallest details, including things like spellings, currencies, and date formats.
If you're talking to customers in a different region, it's key to have everything in check with communication and be consistent with that. When it comes to event factors like swag and shipping, the costs and the budget need to take the local taxes into account.
There are umpteen such little nuances that an event marketer can gradually learn and start to adapt to. Ultimately, it boils down to an ability to flex those “attention to detail” muscles.
Ashley shared that at this point, she taps into the larger team and tries to understand their go-to-market strategy for the rest of the year. This would cover the launches to be planned, the timing and location of these events, etc.
The sharing of these updates is critical for event marketers to understand and be aligned with the company’s larger vision.
At CallMiner, Ashley follows a model of meeting frequently with the PR team, the product marketing team, and the product team. The goal is to try and get a handle on the bigger picture for the next quarter.
“Regularly sharing updates is critical for event marketers to understand and align with the company’s larger vision and goals.”
Another important consideration is customers. When customer retention is a huge goal for the organization, you must align yourselves with the customer success directors and understand their goals and how those fit into events.
Being aligned with every single stakeholder across teams can help you set goals.
At CallMiner, Ashley shared, the product marketing team leads the messaging. “They do a fantastic job. I rely on my counterpart, the director of product marketing. He is really helpful in having me understand what I'm looking at or the content we need to produce,” Ashley shared.
And then there's the lead on the PR team, who runs the content calendar. She and Ashley work by staying completely aligned on the events they are attending and releases scheduled, among other things.
If there's a blog release or a press release, the event marketing and content teams can look at aligning the speaking spots or the webinar calendar with the releases.
You should also consider regular team meetings. At CallMiner, the teams get together weekly for a “customer meeting,” sharing all of their past week's meetings with prospects. They then fix the messaging schedule on a spreadsheet and contact the customer accordingly for a great story.
So, it's important to ensure everyone is aligned before reaching out to a customer with an ask to avoid multiple requests for, say, a testimonial.
To pull off true success as a cross-functional team and overcome challenges, it's important to work towards the same goals every single day. Consistent efforts, a solid work ethic, faultless syncing, and a good leader are essential factors in team success.
Ashley shared that one thing she immediately does when things get tough is to just look at her dog. “He's usually sitting right next to me. I like to go outside and take him for a long walk. I think walks are huge,” she said.
It's important to step away from the computer every now and then, and it's okay not to respond to an email within seconds of it arriving in your inbox.
Ashley emphasized the importance of mental health. Prioritizing that can make a huge difference personally, professionally, and for one's growth. Often, sitting in the same spot endlessly at the computer and not taking breaks or taking care of yourself takes a toll mentally.
So, take a lot of walks with your pet or by yourself. You should also engage in exercise. Ashley, for instance, is big on getting on her peloton. You can also find balance by checking in on others frequently.
Sometimes when inboxes get busy with a large team, you can take a pause and just do a quick check on your teammates and offer help if possible. We are all humans at the end of the day, so taking a second with everyone and being kind can make a huge difference.
Thanks so much for joining us, Ashley! That’s all for now, but we’ll see you soon for another episode of Event Marketers Live.