Q&A: 10 Minutes With Sabrina Gonzales of Shutterstock

Sabrina Gonzales, Director of Events, Shutterstock

A well-rounded perspective on the marketing and sales cycles of brands gives Sabrina Gonzales the leading edge as director of events for Shutterstock, a provider for stock images, audio and video. Before joining Shutterstock, she held strategic marketing roles at a variety of brands, in a variety of sectors, including Netflix and Adobe, before doing what she says “nobody does” and moving into a sales role at a production agency.

“It was great experience, because I learned what sales people are looking for in events and why it’s important to measure the ROI of events; and why lead generation is so important. I think that my career span has helped me in the role that I have now as I partner very closely with our sales team every day,” Gonzales says.

At Shutterstock, she oversees the execution of all the brand’s events in the U.S. and in Europe, and is responsible for determining which trade shows the brand should participate in annually based on show demographics and how they match up against key corporate objectives. 2023 was an especially busy one for Shutterstock with the explosion of AI and the brand’s release of a first-to-market Shutterstock AI image generator tool.

mastercard-booth-attendee-2-money-20-20-2023You Might Also Like:

A highlight this year was a large island booth at SXSW—the brand’s first time at the festival—where the AI image generator was showcased on a 20-foot by 16-foot wall within the space, allowing attendees to come up and use the tool at scale. The brand’s booth “sweet spot” is a 20-by-20, according to Gonzales, and typically an island booth configuration, because it allows for branding at all angles and accommodates a number of activities from small theaters to demo stations to lounges.

Ahead of another busy calendar year for the team in 2024, we caught up with Gonzales for a 10-minute chat about what’s top-of-mind for her in trade shows.


Event Marketer: Let’s start with a trade show industry trend that has your attention.

Sabrina Gonzales: In addition to interactive and immersive experiences, definitely self-led demos and build-your-own adventures. It’s a great way to get attendees to understand how to use your products in action rather than just by listening or watching a product expert do it for them. Instead, someone is there to help guide them to explore. This is especially important being that we’re a platform solution for creative pros.

Something that’s been hugely popular for Shutterstock are our portrait studio activations. They’re a level up from a traditional headshot station and shot by our own live assignments team. We have a team of celebrity photographers that shoot all types of live assignments, like award shows, Met Gala, Super Bowl. They know how to get “the perfect shot.” While attendees are standing in line for their portrait, we have our sizzle reel running and our staff are able to engage with attendees, conduct quick discovery, answer questions and build a connection. It also turns out to be a great networking spot!

How about technologies or measurement tactics that have your attention?

I can say that right now we really rely on lead scanning. We rely on counting the number of demos and we also rely heavily on manual sales input to measure our booth traffic. But I really am interested and curious about heat mapping as a way to understand booth foot traffic. It’ll help us understand which activations in our booth are working, whether it’s the demo station or the theater. Heat mapping will also help us understand the best time of day and also the best show day. Not only is an exhibit booth expensive, but there’s the T&E that goes along with staffing it.

What are your exhibit must-haves?

A high visibility location is very important. Good lighting and high-speed internet—that is crucial for us. I like to scout spaces near our complementary partners or even where our competitors are, because it puts us in a really great position to showcase our own products and services.

The biggest challenge or nut to crack in trade shows in 2024?

Well, I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but measuring ROI. I think that is always on an event marketer’s mind—how do you find the right way to measure the effectiveness of participating in a show? It’s a persistent challenge we face when it comes to budgeting. We need to be able to measure the effectiveness not only on leads generated, but also brand awareness. And it’s really hard to justify brand awareness. I think that show producers can help a bit more by committing to ensure that the right brands and decision makers are swinging by our booths and attending our thought leadership sessions or that show producers are making proper introductions, because we’re making such big investments.

What next on the list for 2024?

We have a really exciting year ahead! We’re getting ready for Sundance. Shutterstock will be a Leadership Sponsor and the Official Portrait Studio and Photography Partner for the Sundance Film Festival 2024 in January. That’s a very big deal for us; it’s our second year, but first as house photographer. We’re also heading into our second year at the Edinburgh TV Festival and will be house photographer for that show, too. This is an example of show producers working in tandem with us, so we’re sponsoring and they hire us for house photography services, which is a win-win.

Finally, what drives your passion for setting strategy and overseeing trade show exhibits?

I really love the immersive tech that’s out now. There’s so much opportunity to bring immersive and engaging ideas to life. I’m a salesperson at heart, so working in partnership with the sales team and seeing wins that sprout from a trade show presence, whether it’s a new connection or continuing to build a relationship by bringing someone in to enjoy our booth experience, is really enjoyable. That’s why I love my job so much.

Have a corporate trade show marketer you’d like us to profile? Let us know.

Rachel Boucher
Posted by Rachel Boucher

Rachel joined Event Marketer in 2012 and today serves as the brand's head of content. Her travels covering the experiential marketing indust ry have ranged from CES in Las Vegas to Spring Break in Panama City Beach, Florida (hey, it's never too late)—and everywhere in between.
View all articles by Rachel Boucher →

Receive the latest news and special announcements from Event Marketer


© 2024 Access Intelligence, LLC – All Rights Reserved. |