B-to-B Dream Team Archive: Eight Insights on Building a Customer-Centric Event – Event Marketer

B-to-B Dream Team Archive: Eight Insights on Building a Customer-Centric Event – Event Marketer

B-to-B Dream Team Archive: Eight Insights on Building a Customer-Centric Event

The 2020 B-to-B Dream Team call for nominations is underway through Jan. 23

em-dream-team-2020_logo_updateBusiness event strategies have historically been built around what a brand wants to relay to its audience, but ask any event marketer about b-to-b tactics today, and most of them will tell you the tables have turned. Indeed, a customer-centric approach that meets the needs and goals of attendees, rather than the brand, has become the new norm. Marketers are now laser-focused on understanding their audience’s challenges and objectives, and leveraging that information to build relationships and deliver a more impactful event. It’s a topic that many past Dream Teamers are passionate about, so to rev you up for our fifth annual B-to-B Dream Team program, we cherry-picked their top soundbites. Take a look at the insights below and don’t forget to nominate yourself or a colleague for our 2020 roster.


“For me, the business-to-business attendee is ever changing. And rather than predict what they want or expect, I’d rather spend time empathizing and talking with them. That gives me the insight into what they hope to learn and what their unmet need is. And then we can build an amazing experience together.”

-Laine Mann, director-global congress lead, Pfizer (2018)

“With so much information out there, you have to be dynamic, you have to give a good experience, you have to give your customers a reason to stay with you and come back… Most important, put yourself in the shoes of the audience, and that includes being knowledgeable about their business. Talk to them, ask them about their challenges and what they are dealing with; don’t just rely on a profile from your agency.”

-Erin McElroy, program director-innovation, IBM (2018)

“I don’t just think ‘sessions,’ I think year-round content. What that means is that we should provide all that other information up front all year long so that they’ve heard the messages, they’ve gotten a lot of the learning part done so when they get there it can be more about interaction and conversation.”

-Shantel Gascoigne, digital marketing manager-partner community marketing, Microsoft (now, senior product marketing manager) (2016)

“Treat your clients like fans. That is the litmus test for us for every event we do.”

-Jessica Park, global director-business marketing, Spotify (2018)

“What we’re seeing now is that we might have somebody out of marketing, or human resources, or freight management—virtually, anyone from any organization’s department may be an influencer, or may be a decision-maker—so we have to be prepared to speak their language when introducing them to our industry-specific solutions.”

-John Heiman, director-experiential marketing, Sprint (2019)

“It’s not about sales, it’s about making friendships and having people come in and offering them a cup of coffee or a snack and developing a relationship with them. You want them to leave with a memory of your space and the amazing time they spent there.”

-Victoria Lieffring, associate creative director-visual display, Kohler (2017)

“When we think about re:Invent, we always think about the customers, our community and work backwards for what we want to offer them and how to constantly work with them… Make sure you’re building a robust community, that you’re checking in with them, that you’re engaged with them, and then asking, how does taking that feedback from your customers really change the way you’re presenting learning opportunities.”

-Rachel Thornton, head of global field marketing and events, Amazon Web Services (now, vp- global field and partner marketing) (2018)

“A lot of marketers, including myself, fall prey to trying to top yourself year-over-year. When you find yourself in that scenario, you have to go back to basics and ask yourself, who are you building for, and what’s going to make the audience feel seen and respected?”

-Kelsey Schimmelman, senior event producer, GitHub (now, experiences producer at MKTG) (2019)


Explore the B-to-B Dream Team Archives:

Kait Shea
Posted by Kait Shea

Kait joined EM in 2015 and today enjoys her role as senior editor. When she’s not in reporter mode, rocking mermaid pants at Comic-Con or running laps at MWC Barcelona, you can find her at home listening to music and doting on her fur baby.
View all articles by Kait Shea →

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