Collaboration Across Marketing and Events Teams

EPISODE 17: Collaboration Across Marketing & Events Teams | PODCAST

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Show Notes:

Today on Pivot Points, Tripp Underwood talks with Kristen Wilson, Director of Marketing, 3DEXPERIENCE Works & SOLIDWORKS, Dassault Systèmes and Abbie Reynolds, an account manager here at Cramer. In this episode we discuss how marketing and events teams can improve their collaborative efforts. Often events and marketing teams work in silos; both focused on their own deliverables. Yet, creating a strong line of communication between these two teams will ensure a more consistent brand experience for your audience. 

Transcript:

Elise Orlowski: 

I’m Elise Orlowski, a senior video director here at Cramer. 

Tripp Underwood: 

And I’m Tripp Underwood, a creative director at Cramer. 

Elise Orlowski: 

And at Cramer, we work with so many incredibly fascinating people from all over multiple industries. 

Tripp Underwood: 

We have so many great conversations, many that are just too good to keep to ourselves so now, we’re sharing them with the world. 

Elise Orlowski: 

Right here from Cramer Studios. 

Tripp Underwood: 

This is Pivot Points. 

Elise Orlowski: 

Cut. 

Tripp Underwood: 

Hi, welcome to Pivot Points. My name is Tripp Underwood. I’m a creative director here at Cramer and today I’m joined by my co-host Abbie Reynolds, an account manager here at Cramer. On this episode, we’re going to be discussing how to better build bridges between marketing and events. It’s not uncommon in our world to see these kind of fake organizational walls come between marketing and events teams, and it’s always struck me as kind of odd personally because, I see events as a live extension of a brand, kind of the same way I see an email campaign as a digital extension of that brand, so while they might have different practices or processes, they really are the same in theory. So we’re going to talk about how those two teams can kind of work together a little bit more smoothly. 

Abbie Reynolds: 

Exactly. Today we want to welcome Kristen Wilson, the director of marketing 3DExperience Works and SolidWorks at Dassault Systemès. She oversees both marketing and event content for the company. Kristen, welcome. 

Kristen Wilson: 

Thank you so much. It’s really nice to be on this side of the camera. 

Abbie Reynolds: 

Yes, we’re happy to have you. 

Kristen Wilson: 

Next to you in person, this is amazing. It’s great. 

Tripp Underwood: 

We’ve all spent time on the other side of the camera at various SolidWorks events over the years [crosstalk 00:01:36] good to see again and in person. 

Kristen Wilson: 

Thank you. 

Abbie Reynolds: 

Mm-hmm (affirmative). 

Tripp Underwood: 

As opposed to our last events. 

Abbie Reynolds: 

Better than the zoom screen, yeah. 

Kristen Wilson: 

Absolutely. 

Tripp Underwood: 

So Kristen, you and I talk in real life, so I kind of already know this story, but I think it’d be great for our audience to hear it because I do think it’s interesting. Tell me a little bit about that aha moment that you had when you really started to think of marketing as this kind of big 360 experience as opposed to these more silo deliverable based projects. 

Kristen Wilson: 

Sure. So, I mean, we always think about it a little bit. The marketing team and the event team all roll up to sort of uber marketing so we’re sort of part of the same team, but you’re right, we sort of do these distinct pieces. And even the event itself has sort of three parts, whether it’s 3DExperience world or when it was SolidWorks world, the SolidWorks community is pretty amazing so the event is really a celebration of that community. It’s also a big learning experience. We have tons of training content that people come really to learn and to see their friends and it’s a kickoff. We do a lot of brand dialogue. We talk about what we’re doing the year to come, we set the stage, we help people realize they have this great partner in SolidWorks, and Dassault Systemès. So it’s sort of this… It’s a lot of things. 

Tripp Underwood: 

Serves a lot of masters, so to speak, yeah. 

Kristen Wilson: 

Right. And I’m always involved in the kickoff part, really thinking about how do we tell the brand story, how do we explain what’s happening for the year to come? So that’s really my focus, but I read this book over the summer, “The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker. And it’s really about gathering of all kind, whether it’s a dinner party with some of your friends, whether it’s this event, whether it’s a meeting at the UN, really thinking about why are these people coming in a room together and how do you serve that. 

Tripp Underwood: 

Okay. Big to small, the human interaction and what it’s driving. 

Kristen Wilson: 

Human interaction, yeah. 

Tripp Underwood: 

Okay, great. 

Kristen Wilson: 

What’s the- 

Tripp Underwood: 

That makes sense. 

Kristen Wilson: 

It’s really about the gathering. So it was a really interesting way to kind of think about the event as a gathering that has these pieces, but it’s really all about the gathering. 

Abbie Reynolds: 

Yeah. 

Tripp Underwood: 

It’s more of a… the event itself is a marketing tool as opposed to necessarily a marketing that exists within the events. 

Kristen Wilson: 

Right. 

Tripp Underwood: 

Cool. 

Kristen Wilson: 

Yeah. 

Tripp Underwood: 

No, I think that’s a great way to think about it. 

Kristen Wilson: 

Yeah, definitely. 

Abbie Reynolds: 

When we talk about gathering, the thing that I hear is really breaking down those barriers so that teams can better communicate. And how do we continue to increase communication to better gather our users and attendees? 

Kristen Wilson: 

So I think it is having that conversation early and often. When I think about world, it’s a good event. 

Tripp Underwood: 

Yep. 

Kristen Wilson: 

It could be a lot better, right? It could be a great event. So we need to meet early and say… And again, our team, my marketing team, the event team, the partner team, everybody is these teams that has day jobs. 

Tripp Underwood: 

Yep. Yes. 

Kristen Wilson: 

So the event is something that… it’s July, we kind of talk about it. It’s October, we’re like, oh, hey, we got to go and then it’s a flat out sprint where we all are kind of create one team again, but we don’t talk about the event most of the year. 

Abbie Reynolds: 

Right. 

Kristen Wilson: 

So I… Yeah, go ahead. 

Tripp Underwood: 

I hate to cut you off but- 

Kristen Wilson: 

Yeah, no. 

Tripp Underwood: 

That idea of event content being so deadline driven- 

Kristen Wilson: 

Yeah. 

Tripp Underwood: 

As opposed to content that the audience wants to see is so dead on and so not unique to your company. 

Kristen Wilson: 

Yeah. Oh no. [crosstalk 00:04:48]. 

Tripp Underwood: 

Even our own that we do it professionally. 

Abbie Reynolds: 

Yes. 

Kristen Wilson: 

Right. Right. 

Tripp Underwood: 

But I do think this idea of talking often- 

Kristen Wilson: 

Right. 

Tripp Underwood: 

And not have it be, I need a theme by Friday or- 

Kristen Wilson: 

Sure. 

Tripp Underwood: 

Everything falls apart. What’s our theme and we’re like, hey, what do you think the theme this year should be or… 

Kristen Wilson: 

Right. 

Tripp Underwood: 

I was talking to so and so in this department and she’s really excited about this and I thought that could be a good theme. 

Kristen Wilson: 

Exactly. 

Tripp Underwood: 

Water cooler talk, bring it back. 

Kristen Wilson: 

I think it’s a couple things, right? Again, we have this great user community. 

Abbie Reynolds: 

Mm-hmm (affirmative). 

Kristen Wilson: 

We can use the user community all year long to talk about the event or the event content or what we’re looking for. We can use them to kind of crowdsource. 

Tripp Underwood: 

Yep. 

Kristen Wilson: 

What sessions do you want to hear? What keynotes do you want to listen to? I mean, I use the user group sometimes to vet the keynotes. 

Tripp Underwood: 

Okay. 

Kristen Wilson: 

I mean, we look at some really good ones, but I’m not an engineer. I don’t know if it’s going to resonate, from a marketing perspective, this person sounds great. So we look at that, but I think it’s also… it’s some of that we leverage the content throughout the year, but also if you think about the theme, right? Let’s say… I’m going to say something silly. Let’s say, this year’s event is going to be about Valentine’s day. 

Tripp Underwood: 

Sure. 

Kristen Wilson: 

It’s going to be Valentine’s. 

Tripp Underwood: 

Love it. 

Abbie Reynolds: 

Perfect. 

Kristen Wilson: 

So then, the event team can say, okay guys, this is what we’re doing, it’s all about Valentine. Kristen, when you look at general session, who are speakers that can speak about love, speak about relationships, hey Nick and the partner team, how do you bring people like that to the partner pavilion to exhibit. And so it’s more, it’s not just, oh, the theme is imagine and we’re just going to use it on the promo. 

Tripp Underwood: 

Yeah. 

Kristen Wilson: 

And in general session. How does that theme or that concept really spread to everything? 

Tripp Underwood: 

And I think an important way to do that, and this is a bit on me as someone that helps comes up with themes- 

Kristen Wilson: 

Sure. 

Tripp Underwood: 

Is there’s a difference between a theme that sounds good and a theme that sounds good and can, has actionable items to it. 

Kristen Wilson: 

Right. 

Tripp Underwood: 

And sometimes it can be, you try to be all things to all people and you end up being nothing to no one. And that does happen sometimes in our industry. 

Kristen Wilson: 

Correct. And I think we look at the theme and it sort of is really more about, oh, it’s a marketing theme for the event, how we market the event, but not a theme where we think about all the pieces. 

Abbie Reynolds: 

Right. 

Kristen Wilson: 

How do we use imagine in the user sessions, how do we use imagine in the playground, for example, but also, what’s the journey? If it is a gathering, who’s coming to the gathering? 

Tripp Underwood: 

Mm-hmm (affirmative). 

Kristen Wilson: 

Right? Okay, so executives come to the gathering. What does that executive experience look like? And not just, oh, they sit in general session to hear us talk so they know we’re good partners, but also do we have sessions for them? Do we allow them to meet our big CEO? Are there other ways for executives to gather? So it’s sort of looking at all those pieces together and sort of looking at that journey, but not that journey just for user session or journey for general session, how does that connect the whole event? And I think we’ve been doing this event for so long that we all just, we know our pieces. 

Tripp Underwood: 

Yep. 

Abbie Reynolds: 

Mm-hmm (affirmative). 

Kristen Wilson: 

Right? And we go and do our pieces so is it a disconnect of marketing an event or is it sort of… we’re kind of stuck in our ways so we just do our thing. 

Tripp Underwood: 

Yeah. Talk to me a little bit about internal stakeholders and buy in, because that is also something- 

Kristen Wilson: 

Yes. 

Tripp Underwood: 

You and I know well that there’s a lot of very important stakeholders within the C-suite or C-suite adjacent. 

Kristen Wilson: 

Sure. 

Tripp Underwood: 

That as you said, this is not a full-time job for them. 

Kristen Wilson: 

Right. 

Tripp Underwood: 

So they might come in with some real strong opinions without knowing big picture stuff or have big access to big picture stuff that the marketing teams don’t know about yet. And there’s a little disconnect there. Any advice that you could give people on how to make that process a little bit smoother or a little bit more efficient, shall we say? 

Kristen Wilson: 

I mean, I think it is about those conversations, right? If the events team or the event lead is talking to me, for example, the lead for marketing, maybe we can strategize together. And if we kind of like rising tide lifts our boats- 

Tripp Underwood: 

Yep. 

Kristen Wilson: 

Can a few of us who are big stakeholders and are active in the event and putting on the event together or go to the executives and are aligned. 

Tripp Underwood: 

Mm-hmm (affirmative). 

Abbie Reynolds: 

Mm-hmm (affirmative). 

Kristen Wilson: 

Right? That we think it’s going to be Valentine’s day this year so how do we sell Valentine’s day as the theme or we want to go really persona focused so how do we do that? Because if it’s just the event person talking in one ear and me talking in the other ear and we are not aligned, we’re not going to get that buy-in from the executives. 

Tripp Underwood: 

Right. Yeah. And then it seems like a disjointed message. The executive… the devil and angel on the shoulder right now. 

Kristen Wilson: 

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Exactly. 

Tripp Underwood: 

Not being able to make heads or tails out of either. 

Kristen Wilson: 

Right. 

Abbie Reynolds: 

And I also think the timing of that message probably matters too. 

Kristen Wilson: 

Correct. Yeah. 

Abbie Reynolds: 

Right? You can’t just do it in October, to your point, when it’s a full sprint, it’s having that foresight to say let’s step back earlier. 

Kristen Wilson: 

Right. And I think if I look at the piece that I generally own, general session, let’s say I think this year we should do five general sessions instead of three. 

Tripp Underwood: 

Okay. 

Kristen Wilson: 

Well, if we have that conversation in October, the events team may have already worked with the user session team to say, nope, we have full three days of user sessions. You can’t change general session. But if we, as a team start that conversation in July. July, still maybe too late, we can really look at the event as a whole holistically instead of everybody just bringing their little pieces to it. 

Tripp Underwood: 

Right. Everybody bring… And I think there’s another thing there that sometimes gets lost is this idea of, you can have a great idea on how to change something but if that idea has ripple effects for other people’s workload, you need to be respectful and how that is… Instead of I have this great idea, the work you’ve done for the past two weeks is out the window. 

Abbie Reynolds: 

Right. 

Kristen Wilson: 

Right. 

Tripp Underwood: 

It has to be, I have this great idea, how can I sell this internally? 

Kristen Wilson: 

Right. 

Tripp Underwood: 

Not based on the merit of the idea, but on the fact that someone might have to do different work. 

Kristen Wilson: 

Right. 

Tripp Underwood: 

More work. Someone’s work might not be used anymore. I mean, that feels terrible too. So that idea- 

Kristen Wilson: 

Right. That you have that understanding of how that all the pieces work together. 

Tripp Underwood: 

Yeah. It’s a respect. And we shouldn’t say that as adults and professionals, I think, but sometimes I get… People either get passionate or people get deadline scared and that’s when you stop thinking about other people’s feelings and start worrying about your own. And I think that does so… 

Kristen Wilson: 

Yes. 

Abbie Reynolds: 

What advice would you have? So most of our audience listening today is event staff so- 

Tripp Underwood: 

So more events could be [inaudible 00:10:55]. 

Abbie Reynolds: 

Yeah. 

Kristen Wilson: 

Right. 

Abbie Reynolds: 

Events teams. What advice would you have for them to initiating these conversations with a marketing lead on the other side? 

Kristen Wilson: 

Well, I think of it, it generally is, right? An event lead and a marketing lead. 

Abbie Reynolds: 

Mm-hmm (affirmative). 

Kristen Wilson: 

Because we are kind of separate, build that relationship early. 

Tripp Underwood: 

Yeah. 

Kristen Wilson: 

And try to talk to that person all the time. Byron on our events team is the lead for the event. 

Abbie Reynolds: 

Mm-hmm (affirmative). 

Kristen Wilson: 

We’ve had four conversations already. And I think if the event person can also offer something, right. The event team has a lot of data, right? 

Tripp Underwood: 

Mm-hmm (affirmative). 

Abbie Reynolds: 

A lot. 

Kristen Wilson: 

They know everybody, they know who attended, where they attended from, what their title is, what sessions they went to- 

Tripp Underwood: 

How long they paid attention. 

Kristen Wilson: 

Exactly. So I think if the event person can also offer something that then helps me in marketing, right? 

Tripp Underwood: 

Yeah. 

Kristen Wilson: 

If we had all these sessions and everybody just goes to the simulation session, then maybe we shouldn’t do design sessions. 

Abbie Reynolds: 

Right. 

Kristen Wilson: 

For example. So I think if the event person can also come with information that helps the marketing person, maybe the marketing person’s more willing to listen. 

Tripp Underwood: 

And I think also of this idea of maybe just sharing things that you may like. 

Kristen Wilson: 

Yeah. 

Tripp Underwood: 

Hey…I see this thing on Saturday, life was funny the other day, I thought of you and kind of just sharing little bit then you kind of start to understand what the other person likes. 

Kristen Wilson: 

Oh, for sure. 

Tripp Underwood: 

And it helps, synergy starts there. Not everything needs to be work related. 

Kristen Wilson: 

No, right. 

Tripp Underwood: 

A work relationship doesn’t have to totally be based on work per se. 

Kristen Wilson: 

Sure. 

Tripp Underwood: 

And I think that’s a great place to start. 

Kristen Wilson: 

I think that’s any human relationship, right? Anybody you work with in the company and that’s why in person is so much… is so valuable, is that you see somebody in the hallway and you can… Yes, did you see Saturday live, hey, are you watching March Madness or whatever, and you kind of get to know the person so then you can have better work conversations. Absolutely. 

Tripp Underwood: 

And then if you would talk to me a little bit about using event content in marketing campaigns- 

Kristen Wilson: 

Sure. 

Tripp Underwood: 

Post event. I think- 

Kristen Wilson: 

Okay. 

Tripp Underwood: 

Everyone does it. I’m not sure if everyone does it as well or strategically as I would like to see them doing so I’m curious. I think- 

Kristen Wilson: 

And that could be us as well. 

Tripp Underwood: 

No, I think you guys do a pretty good job. You’re actually, it’s one of the ones that I’m like, well, this is what we do for SolidWorks and I think it could work here. So I’m just curious to hear your thinking on that. 

Kristen Wilson: 

Well, there’s a couple pieces, right? There’s content comes in a few different ways. We have the content from general session, which sometimes keynotes you can’t continue to use because then they won’t get paid for another event. But when our CEO comes on stage and talks about our portfolio or helps to refine the positioning and does it in a really great way, because we all together spend time really, that’s the kickoff. We do it really well. We leverage that keynote from our executives over and over. 

Tripp Underwood: 

Okay. 

Kristen Wilson: 

Right? In marketing on the website to say, here’s how we describe this concept. 

Tripp Underwood: 

Right. 

Kristen Wilson: 

So we do that. We also do a live stream. 

Abbie Reynolds: 

That’s exactly what I was thinking about. 

Kristen Wilson: 

Yeah. 

Abbie Reynolds: 

Not only do you leverage the messaging or the video itself of the keynote, but you leverage the actual CEO to go on a livestream onsite at the event. Let’s immediately hit them again with that messaging. 

Kristen Wilson: 

Yes. Absolutely. So we try to sprinkle the messaging in places, but we also can use the livestream content for other things, right? 

Abbie Reynolds: 

Yep. 

Kristen Wilson: 

It’s sort of the story behind the story. It’s John Paul delivers the strategy, but then has a personal conversation about how the strategy really applies and we can use that and then there are the 200 or so user sessions. 

Abbie Reynolds: 

Yep. 

Kristen Wilson: 

It’s really good lead gen content as well, right? So sheet metal is very popular for SolidWorks users. 

Tripp Underwood: 

Yep. 

Kristen Wilson: 

We have in the past sent an email that says, okay, grab some popcorn, kick your feet up, here’s an hour and a half session about sheet metal and it’s some of our best performing lead gen. 

Tripp Underwood: 

Really? 

Kristen Wilson: 

People care about that and they like to watch demos so leveraging that content is really helpful in that way as well from a lead gen perspective, in addition to sort of the thought leadership. I’m trying to think of what else we do. Those are a couple big ways. We do a lot with our user group leaders at the event 

Abbie Reynolds: 

And social, you’re on social, too. 

Kristen Wilson: 

And social, yes. 

Abbie Reynolds: 

Posts post event. 

Kristen Wilson: 

Yep, we’re in social pre-event, post event. 

Abbie Reynolds: 

During the event. 

Kristen Wilson: 

During the event, yes. 

Tripp Underwood: 

But and you guys are blessed to have such a devoted audience as well. 

Kristen Wilson: 

Correct. Yeah. 

Tripp Underwood: 

To have such rabbit fans, so to speak, I think makes our job a little bit easier but then the pressure’s on too. They’ll let you know, I’ve been on some of those user boards where they don’t love the theme all the time and I’m like- 

Kristen Wilson: 

Sure. 

Tripp Underwood: 

Hey Johnny63 from Milwaukee. 

Kristen Wilson: 

Yeah. 

Tripp Underwood: 

We worked hard on that one. 

Kristen Wilson: 

Exactly. I mean, it’s funny. We had a conversation the other day about looking at some of the data behind the event survey and people who fill out surveys are either very happy or very upset. 

Abbie Reynolds: 

It’s like the wash. 

Kristen Wilson: 

Exactly. I mean, you grade things maybe fairly honestly but on any of the social media, you see people who want to say something when they have something to say, so general session this year was either the best general session we’ve ever done and it’s amazing or we should just get new jobs. 

Tripp Underwood: 

But so how do you process it? Because that is important information, but it’s not accurate nor is it actionable per se, unless you’re getting something that’s all leaning one way and not the other part. 

Kristen Wilson: 

No, it was pretty mixed. 

Tripp Underwood: 

Okay. 

Kristen Wilson: 

But for me, it kind of reinforces the need to really think about gathering and who’s gathering and how they gather. 

Tripp Underwood: 

Okay. 

Kristen Wilson: 

So a lot of the SolidWorks true diehards are upset that our brand is being bigger and our portfolio is bigger. So what do we do for them when they show up to make them really still feel special? 

Abbie Reynolds: 

Mm-hmm (affirmative). 

Kristen Wilson: 

The students and makers love the event so we’ll just keep doing the same thing for them. 

Tripp Underwood: 

Because it is important to take into account the emotional attachment users have to the brand- 

Kristen Wilson: 

Absolutely. 

Tripp Underwood: 

Which is great. But at the same time, we are not going to completely stop evolving the product just because- 

Kristen Wilson: 

No, no. 

Tripp Underwood: 

Johnny64 from Milwaukee really liked the way it worked in 2008. 

Abbie Reynolds: 

Right. 

Kristen Wilson: 

No, absolutely. 

Tripp Underwood: 

That’s not feasible so… 

Kristen Wilson: 

That’s why I think you look at everybody who’s coming to the event. 

Tripp Underwood: 

Mm-hmm (affirmative). 

Kristen Wilson: 

Who is all coming? It’s long time SolidWorks users, do we do create an event experience for them? It’s executives are more part of it. Do we do something special for them? Students love it so maybe what we are doing for students is perfect and we don’t change that. So it’s kind of looking at a few audiences. I don’t think we’re going to do something for everybody that makes everybody always happy, but are there ways to kind of change the experience to make some people more happy. 

Tripp Underwood: 

And you get a temperature check. 

Kristen Wilson: 

Oh, absolutely. 

Tripp Underwood: 

You get an idea of… Okay, generally this appears to be working or generally this doesn’t appear to be working. 

Kristen Wilson: 

Sure. 

Tripp Underwood: 

Yeah. I think that’s a great idea. 

Kristen Wilson: 

Yeah, absolutely. 

Tripp Underwood: 

Awesome. Well, we’re just about out of time, but I want to thank you so much for coming in. 

Kristen Wilson: 

Sure, no problem. 

Tripp Underwood: 

Again, being on this side of the camera with us, this is a total change of pace for the three of us. 

Abbie Reynolds: 

A real treat. 

Kristen Wilson: 

Yeah, this is really fun. 

Tripp Underwood: 

This is fun. 

Kristen Wilson: 

Always happy to talk about it. 

Tripp Underwood: 

But appreciate your insight. Thanks so much and well, I look forward to working together soon. 

Kristen Wilson: 

Great. Thank you. 

Tripp Underwood: 

That does it for another episode of Pivot Points. Thanks so much for joining us. 

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