Each month we profile one inspiring individual who is raising the bar in the meetings & events industry. Read on to learn why Jennifer, Senior Manager, Field Marketing at Iterable is our July 2020 #Eventprof of the month.
This month, we’re highlighting one of our favorite #Eventprofs on the client-side of things, Jennifer Sue. She’s the Senior Field Marketing Manager at Iterable, a client of ours since 2017!
Although we’ve been working with Iterable for quite some time now, this is actually our first year working directly with Jennifer on their annual user conferences: Activate SF and Activate London.
Though Chrissy had met her previously, I finally met her in London when we were there to scope out potential venues for Activate, which was slated for October 2020 until COVID-19 hit (it has since been postponed to 2021).
Right away, I knew we’d be a great fit – she loves to travel as much as we do and also happens to be a big Marriott Hotels enthusiast like Chrissy! She’s good-spirited with a killer work ethic, keen attention to detail, and a creativity for all things swag and branding! (In this interview, you’ll hear more about how much she loves funneling her creative energy into the swag development process). Jennifer strikes that perfect balance when it comes to communication over email and on calls. She’s a natural with making direct decisions and pushing the project forward while keeping things fun and lighthearted throughout.
But above all else, her positive personality is probably our favorite thing about her. For that reason, and so many others, we want to shine the light on her this month.
Since COVID started, she’s pivoted to planning & executing successful virtual events (something new and totally foreign), managing to stay hyper-focused, creative, and innovative the entire time. We could all take a page out of Jennifer’s book when it comes to staying positive, flexible, and forward-thinking during wildly uncertain times!
Here are 10 questions with our July feature, Jennifer Sue.
1. What initially drew you into the events industry?
Before I took the position as Field Marketing Manager, I worked on the demand generation team as a Campaign Manager, where I gained lots of experience working directly with Sales. A great portion of my job required me to be knowledgeable and hands-on with helping our teams prepare for events, as well as following up with any leads once the event was over. So, before it was even the main focus of my job, I gained a lot of experience learning both sides of the sales process as it intrinsically relates to events.
Eventually, there was a gap in the field marketing sector of our company and it made sense for me to shift into that position and manage the entire event strategy start to finish.
I’m also a highly social person, so being in the field, engaging with customers, and collaborating with others in that environment made it feel like a perfect fit – plus, I love traveling!
2. What’s a day in the life of Jennifer like?
Well, we just wrapped up our annual user conference, Activate, a few weeks ago! Back in April, we started the process of shifting what was a live event for about 800 attendees to a virtual one – which was a huge undertaking!
But, now that we’re on the other side of that milestone event, most of my days are spent packing up all the session data, analytics, videos, and other creative assets (just because the event is over doesn’t mean the work is done!).
We’re also starting to plan our next virtual event series, something that we’ve had to adapt and cultivate in times of COVID. The virtual event space can be limiting in some ways, especially compared to live events and the possibilities they afford. I’m really focused on coming up with new alternatives to engage with our customers in unique and exciting ways – making sure that every experience (virtual and beyond) ties back to Iterable’s core values and services.
Beyond work stuff, I’ve become an avid coffee brewer & enthusiast since quarantine started. I can now pull the perfect espresso shot!
3. How do you feel your role helps advance your company’s overall goals?
I see field marketing as an integral function of sales enablement. We are the bridge that helps with the company’s demand generation campaigns by making them more accessible for Sales out in the field. My role is to support and execute experiences, events, and opportunities for our sales teams to interface with potential or existing customers – it’s even better if we can offer one-on-one experiences for those interactions.
An event is a great, visible marketing strategy. So, creating those experiences that build relationships and foster trust is how we ultimately help our Sales team (and company) reach their goals.
4. How many events do you work on per year? What’s the mix?
It’s usually A LOT! Maybe 60-70 during a regular year. But, post-COVID things have been a bit different.
As I mentioned, we’ve had to shift both our large scale and smaller, more intimate, events to the digital space. Webinars, certifications, and virtual activities have all been key to furthering our company goals while navigating these strange times.
Right now, we’re on track to host 4-8 monthly events in the 90-minute range. But, Zoom fatigue is a real thing, so we started supplementing presentations with fun, interactive activities like virtual wine tastings and a cheese & charcuterie board-building class with assembled kits we ship out to attendees.
5. How do you measure success for the events you manage?
The pipeline that’s generated from the event is a big one! So, we focus our efforts on marketing to quality attendees, – whether that’s customers from priority accounts, or prospective clients and partners – delivering excellent content, and an unforgettable experience.
And, of course, we always want our Sales team to be happy! If they come out of it with new or deeper existing relationships with their customers, we consider that a success!
6. What was your biggest event fail, and how did you overcome it?
I hosted a 30-person dinner in Dallas… and only 4 people showed up. YIKES.
Having that small of a turn out with our Sales team and partner was really embarrassing!
So, we very quickly changed the format of the event. Instead of a presentation, we pivoted to a more open forum type conversation. And, I ended up treating everyone to Uber & Lyft rides when it was over to make up for it being a bit of a flop.
It wasn’t ideal but being able to adjust on the fly was essential!
7. What is your absolute favorite part of your job?
I love the creative process of tying the event theme and Iterable’s messaging into our swag giveaways. I like to think we’ve come up with some interesting stuff that people haven’t seen before.
One time, we made wine charms for our wine flight series that read “Wine Flights and Email Insights” – that was a real crowd pleaser! We’ve also done custom beer growlers for a brewery event, where attendees got to choose a beer on tap to fill them and take home.
But, one of my favorite swag items has to be a tea and coaster set from an event series in the Fall themed “Pumpkin Spice and Cross-Channel Advice”(a play on one of Iterable’s core services). We gave them out to the attendees after the presentation and dinner and I loved seeing people’s reactions!
8. Where do you see the events industry going in the future? Any trends?
Live events aren’t going away. Most of us have been pivoting to virtual events and meetings for a few months now, and we still have a ways to go. I think it’s important to hone in on the skills we’ve learned from producing live events and try to translate that same creativity, innovation, and uniqueness into the virtual space.
One virtual event trend I’ve seen that I adapted to, specifically with Activate last month, is sending swag to attendees ahead of time. I was inspired to do the Activate “viewing kit” because it made more sense to send attendees something to enjoy before and during the virtual event vs. what we’d typically do at a live event, which is, give out swag at registration, for example.
9. How do you find balance outside of work?
Like I mentioned earlier, I’ve recently become an aspiring at-home barista! I’ve learned how to properly pull the perfect espresso shot with my machine at home (…that I bought during quarantine). I must say, I’ve gotten pretty good!
I also LOVE to travel. I’m super passionate about adventuring and seeing the world. I always spend a lot of time diving deep into research and planning before every trip. Sadly, I won’t be traveling any time soon, so I guess I’ve just been funneling all that energy into learning new skills and activities like coffee brewing and, most recently, latte art!
10. Any advice for #eventprofs just getting started?
Communication is KEY. Refine your communication within your team, company, vendors, and beyond. Solid communication is essential for the promotion of your event because you have to get that “buy-in”– otherwise, is it worth it?
If you’re just starting out in the event space, be willing to help out and invest your time and energy into learning all the basics. When you’re green and learning a lot all at once you have to be organized. Think about creating a checklist for each process and task. That’ll help you solidify what you’re learning and keep you on track.
Also, take risks and think outside of the box!