The Marketer's Support Group

I’m an Event Marketer – Here’s My 3-Step Guide to Plan Pivoting

By Sruthi Kumar on May 15, 2020

This article is part of our Marketer’s Support Group series. We are a group of marketers, each of us with a very different background but one common goal of persevering through the pandemic. We are hoping that by sharing our stories we will give you tips, tricks, and coping mechanisms to make it through all of the plan-pivoting, uncertainty, and change.

My 3-Step Guide to Plan Pivoting

Hi my name is Sruthi and I’m a field marketer. 

We have historically seen positive outcomes from events, so a large portion of our budget and funnel is usually dedicated to field events, trade shows and in-person gatherings. But following Dreamforce last year, where our go-to-market team rallied around a unique experience at the show, there was a tremendous focus on scaling our events strategy. Coming into the spring, we had a very aggressive events calendar. In fact, it was jam-packed:  industry events, sales dinners, tradeshows, booths, kiosks, lounges, happy hours, after hours, VIP events, speakerships, sponsorships, and keynotes. We had it all, contracts signed, booths designed, and swag sourced.  

Even more important than our calendar, however, were our pipeline goals associated with events. 

But then the pandemic hit and everything changed. It started with one or two polite emails, “Hey Sruthi, we regret to inform you…” but then the cancellations took off like wildfire, and before I knew it more than 300 industry events were canceled. I sat and stared at my baron calendar. My plans had gone up in smoke, all of our events were gone but my revenue goals were not. 

I had to pivot and pivot quickly.

Step 1: Figure Out What’s Salvageable

Like in any fire, you scope the damage and figure out what is still salvageable. We had a four-city roadshow set to kick off later this year. We may not be able to do it in person, but we still had ideas for session content, customer speakers, and product announcements to make. So, like many other teams, we went virtual with our event. 

The roadshow was originally going to be an intimate setting and we were going to rely on some key partners to be able to educate our prospects and customers. But knowing that many other marketers were experiencing the same thing I was, I kept the idea of expanding the point of views with a partner or two, but reached out to more partners to see if they’d like to participate, share in the promotional lift, and be able to share their stories. And just a couple short weeks, and many stand up meetings later, voila the Show Must Go On was born – or reborn really. 

Step 2: Get Creative 

For smaller field events, we had to think outside the box. We didn’t want to outright cancel because they were tied to strategic accounts and we needed the pipeline. So here’s what we did. We had a couple of industry dinners and cocktail hours set up in March and April. We pivoted these “happy hours” to virtual panels and gave attendees the opportunity to also have their cameras on. This made it feel more like a live event where attendees get to benefit from networking too. We were also planning a wine tasting with another account and pivoted that into a direct mail send through In Good Taste which sent a 4-pack of Napa Valley wines. 

Step 3: Find New Ways to Drive Value

Let’s face it. It’s hard to be an event marketer without events. Lucky for me, I also identify as an agile marketer. I took inventory of my responsibilities and my skillsets. Like other event marketers, I’m a people person, I’m good at nurturing relationships, I’m brand-focused, I have high attention to detail (anyone who’s ever set up a booth understands that), and I’ve always been very focused on driving meetings and starting conversations for sales. 

So taking all that into consideration, I didn’t just pivot my plans but my whole role. We restructured our event team to a more field marketing focused model, expanding our role to include all high value, high touch account marketing with new prospects, and customer accounts for expansion and retention goals. Now we partner with various sales members to help them advance deals and close ACV and our account management and CS team.

My name is Sruthi and I’m a FIELD marketer.

Register below to listen to more great sessions from our Show Must Go On virtual event.   

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