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17 | Alyson Griffin, Intel: Augmented Reality Butterflies and The Power of Storytelling

  • October 2, 2019
  • 43:40

Alyson Griffin, VP of Global Marketing at Intel, shares why events are a powerful medium for storytelling. Along the way, we discussed virtually dissected frogs, snot bots, whales, Star Wars, and how Alyson went from being a pharmacist to a global marketing VP.

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Top Takeaways

1

GETTING INTO THE HANDS OF THE CUSTOMERS: As a marketer, Alyson believes wholeheartedly in events. Events provide a venue for the right customers to interact and get their hands on a technology or a solution. “The best way to do that, obviously, is literally in their hands and in person," says Alyson. "Immerse them in what it is you're trying to show or tell, so that they can experience it themselves.”

2

TELLING COMPELLING STORIES: Alyson originally started in pharmacy school before pivoting to a marketing major and beginning her career in PR. What really resonated with Alyson about the marketing world was the ability to tell compelling stories. “Creating amazing stories about what our clients were doing was just so exciting to me. That is at my core from a marketing perspective, but I took that storytelling excitement all the way through my entire career.”

3

USING EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES FOR MARKETING: Something important for Alyson is the ability to use emerging technology for marketing campaigns. The team created a number of experiential marketing campaigns that leverage AR including a VR activation showcasing their SnotBot for ecological research, gamifying augmented reality butterflies at a large retail trade show, and Intel’s Tech Learning Lab that offered VR educational experiences for students. “That's our strategy for bringing it all together. We get to tell a great story and the world gets to experience something that they didn't know. It's really amazing.”

ABOUT Alyson Griffin

For the past three years, Alyson has been on a mission to spread awareness around Intel’s B2B Operations. Before working at Intel, Alyson spent 15 years at Hewlett-Packard which culminated in her role as Vice President of Americas Marketing.

Episode Transcript

BRANDON:

Alyson, I know that you spent the better part of your career working at companies that are building a more innovative tomorrow. With that in mind, I'd love to ask you one very important question, Star Wars or Star Trek?

ALYSON:

I'd have to say Star Wars. I'm a huge Star Wars fan. It came out when I was at that perfect impressionable age. It was one of the first movies I saw in the theater and I loved it. I have two boys and a husband who are huge Star Wars fans as well. I never got away from it.

BRANDON:

Did you have maybe a favorite movie in the series?

ALYSON:

The very first one.

BRANDON:

The very first one A New Hope.

ALYSON:

A New Hope.

BRANDON:

A great place to begin.

ALYSON:

It's my favorite.

BRANDON:

Okay. You are the Vice President of Global Marketing at Intel, where you have been for the past three years. To set the stage for our conversation today about marketing and events at Intel, could you tell us a little bit about your role currently at Intel and how you are, as you've said in your own words, opening the aperture of the brand to go beyond personal computers?

ALYSON:

Yeah. I've been at Intel for three years now and was hired on to create a B2B outbound marketing presence for the company. I say that to say that wasn't the focus of Intel for the last 51 years. We were doing outbound marketing, focused on the PC business. But what we, the management realized, or knew was that growth was happening on this B2B side of the house, data centric side. We weren't telling that story anywhere in the world, in any real significant way. I had been at HP for a really long time and had done B2C work, as well as B2B work and had set up some B2B processes and things for HP, many, many years ago and had that experience. Intel tapped that, so that it could, again, open the aperture of its brand. Now my responsibility is from a brand perspective, as well as for the internet of things business unit, telling inspirational business outcome stories that, oh, by the way happen to use a whole bunch of Intel technology in the background. We're trying to inspire folks to understand oh, I didn't tell know Intel did that.

BRANDON:

Great. And something you mentioned there was your extensive experience at HP where you worked for nearly 20 years?

ALYSON:

Yeah. Nearly.

BRANDON:

Wow. I mean, I know that HP goes back in your family a little bit. Your mother's worked there for 43 years or so?

ALYSON:

She did. Yeah.

BRANDON:

At a very different time in Silicon Valley and in a very different role, but you eventually ended up working there yourself. How did you end up on this path towards marketing, towards storytelling, towards this greater brand awareness, thought leadership?

ALYSON:

I'll take a slight step back and say I was a little girl growing up in Silicon Valley and my mom worked at HP. It was in the late '60's and early '70's and she ... I now look back on it and see her as a pioneer for women in business, especially male-dominated Silicon Valley, especially in 1970, for example. I guess it just was shown to me by her without even having to be said. I just lived that life with her. HP is in me somehow because of her wonderful experience at that wonderful company for so many decades. I even remember stories in the early '70's, HP had some property in the Santa Cruz mountains and so they'd have their company picnics every year there. Bill and Dave, Hewlett and Packard themselves were flipping burgers and patted me on the head. It just sunk in that this wonderful community-based, technology rich, smart people doing amazing things in the world. It must've been there in my brain somehow.

Fast forward, I actually started thinking I was going to be a pharmacist. I went to pharmacy school for three of five year-round years. I remember my third year, my junior year of pharmacy school I was able to fill prescriptions in a pharmacy. I had my tech license, they called it, and the pharmacist had to see the prescription before it went out. But I say that to say and I hope it translates on a podcast, I was standing swiping pills, five, 10, 15, 20 and I was like, "Is this what I'm going to be doing for the rest of my life?" I don't mean any disrespect to the amazing pharmacists, but for me, it just wasn't something I saw myself doing long term.

I changed majors and as soon as I stepped into my first advertising class, it was as if the heavens parted and the sun was shining down and I thought, "This is what I want to." Journalism and public relations and advertising were all really interesting to me. Storytelling was really interesting to me. I started my career in public relations and honed my storytelling craft when you've got a pitch a reporter who does not want to take your call or have to listen to what you have to say. You have to be pretty quick at making your point and getting them interested in what you're trying to pitch basically.

BRANDON:

Sure.

ALYSON:

I loved the thrill of that. Creating amazing stories about what our clients were doing was just so exciting to me. That is at my core from a marketing perspective, but I took that storytelling excitement all the way through my entire career. As I grew beyond the function of PR into executive communications, internal communications, messaging, value propositions, advertising, digital, social, whatever, always at my core is that storytelling love.

BRANDON:

Were you involved with the journalism ... the school newspaper?

ALYSON:

You know, it's funny, I was not it. It's funny you brought that up. I wanted to be a broadcast journalist. I would have liked to do that, but I have to be honest, I'm shy enough that the reporter ... where you have to pay your dues. You've got to start as feet on the street and no matter what trauma is happening or maybe a disaster or whatever, you've got to get the microphone up and say, "Excuse me, excuse me, I'd like a quote." That wasn't something I wanted to do. Even though it's in me to want to be a journalist, I didn't take that path.

BRANDON:

But you did, as you said, parlay that experience into at least initially PR side of things.

ALYSON:

Yes. Exactly. Being on the other side of it, pitching the reporter for the story, rather than trying to find and get the story.

BRANDON:

That eventually led to an opportunity at HP?

ALYSON:

It was funny, speaking of my mom's career at HP. I get to an agency and one day I was on a bunch of different tech clients, always in Silicon Valley, always tech. One day they said, "Oh, we're going to put you on the HP account." I remember calling my mom and it's like, "Oh my god, mom, guess what? I'm on the HP account." We laughed. We thought that was so funny. It was completely random, had obviously nothing to do with her. It was just I was being moved to that account. Then after several years working on the HP account, then they hired me into HP and that phone call was, "Mom, guess what? I'm coming to work with you." We laughed, "oh, my gosh." In fact, my very first job, the very first desk I had at HP was on the Cupertino campus, which is now Apple, by the way. It was completely flattened and restructured and everything. I sat in the same building my mom had worked at one point in Cupertino, many, many years before, so that was pretty cool.

BRANDON:

Very cool. After some time there, I understand that you put in a lot of years really taking HPs marketing game to the next level and this caught the eye of Intel.

ALYSON:

Yeah. I'll tell you, I'm really fortunate with HP. Over the years of being in-house, I was able to work in the PC business, the printer business and the enterprise business, all three. It was great because all three are completely different business models. It's razor blade for printer and ink. There's commodity with the PCs and then there's a value sale on the enterprise side. Being able to dig deep, always in marketing, in those different business units, taught me a ton about different customers, different business models, how marketing ties with sales in a different way for each of those businesses and how marketing plays a role to drive revenue and to be relevant in a businesses success. In addition, HP moved my family and me to Geneva, Switzerland and we lived there for a year.

It was great also to be ... it's one thing to be a worldwide marketer and always be responsible for different countries, but only ever from the US. I believe that getting myself out of the United States and going into a country that doesn't speak English and being responsible for ... it was 80 countries basically from Europe, Middle East and Africa. Different currency, different language, different needs, different hiring and firing, all of that also helped shape my marketing brain. When I came back to the United States, I really thank HP for those years and for growing my career in that way to understand all those different models. In that time at HP, of course, I worked with Intel. Intel is a very important partner to companies like HP. I had done joint marketing with Intel for years and years and years anyway.

When they called, obviously they're an amazingly big brand and an amazing company and I was curious. We get called by recruiters and stuff often and I don't normally pick up the phone and I really thought I was going to stay at HP for my entire career, like my mom, because I had been there for so long anyway. But when Intel called, it was like, "Whoa, I wonder what they want, that's interesting" and talk to them. They're a partner, I didn't want to not take the call if you will. When I found out that they were looking to grow the domain of their brand to move into these new spaces that I knew really well because of all of that experience at HP, I just thought, "What an amazing opportunity with an amazing brand." If I can help that brand do something it needs to do that is really important, I can't pass that up. It was a really interesting time and it was not an easy decision, but it was ultimately obviously the decision that seemed right at the time.

BRANDON:

I'd love to dive into this work you're doing at Intel right now. There are a lot of cool campaigns, a lot of cool initiatives, but I'm very interested to hear about how these campaigns and experiences intersect with in-person experiences. You've said yourself that you are assisting Intel and this shift to largely outbound marketing strategy, finding new ways of engaging new audiences and, again, going beyond the personal computer. I guess, very broadly, how are events assisting and achieving this goal?

ALYSON:

Yeah. I'm a marketer. I believe in events. There is a pendulum swing ... there's a lot of questions about events and the value of events in at least the tech world, maybe also beyond the tech world, but we see a trend of companies pulling booths out of big trade shows, for example. Because they're really expensive and you have to think about the ROI and what are we getting and is it really as effective. Are those dollars being used the most effectively? Maybe in some instances, they're not. But especially for vertical markets where the retail industry or the health industry or the manufacturing industry. When you've got the right people all coming to the right event and they're going to go there no matter what and it's someone that's important to you in aggregate, then to me having a presence there is great. It's like, oh god, everybody I ever wanted to talk to is all coming to where I am on a given day. I think being able to get the most value out of that interaction is what's important. Sometimes it's a booth and sometimes it's not a booth, but we still do believe in the value of that.

I personally have always believed in the value of get the technology or the solution in the hands of the target. The best way to do that, obviously, is literally in their hands and in person. Immerse them in what it is you're trying to show or tell, so that they can experience it themselves.

BRANDON:

I think a really good example of this that we were talking about earlier revolves around SnotBot.

ALYSON:

Yes.

BRANDON:

Which is going to sound pretty weird for some of our listeners, but maybe you could give a little bit more context.

ALYSON:

Yeah. SnotBot, it's a fun one. In the context of brand, we were looking to talk about artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies as well. Drones, AI, VR and autonomous driving, those kinds of things.

BRANDON:

Oh, but you're powered by Intel?

ALYSON:

Exactly. Thank you. And that no one knew were powered by Intel. It's like, "Wait, what?" We were trying to find some really AI for good type stories and trying to show business outcomes, so a B2B slant, but that were interesting and storytelling that a person as a person could understand and resonate with and would remember. Enter SnotBot. If you'll indulge me here for a second, it's around whale research. We met Dr. Iain Kerr who's been a whale researcher for decades and he was telling us that the whales are the barometer of the ocean and that tells you everything you need to know about human health. The fish we eat, the water that's being emitted into the air. If you could understand the health and the hormones that the whales are producing and the size of their pods and where they're going and all of those things about the whale community, you could begin to make predictions about human health.

The way to do that was to chase whales around the ocean and literally harpoon them and cut their flesh and take one piece of flesh back to the lab and then try to extrapolate a bunch of data off of that one-

BRANDON:

Yikes.

ALYSON:

... piece, right. And they were distressed, so you don't even know if you were getting the right hormone read, things like that. We worked with them to think about how to do it differently and enter SnotBot. It's an Intel powered drone that was on the ship at a safe distance from a whale colony. The drone would fly out over. We had computer vision, heat sensing, taking pictures of the colony, getting what we call their fingerprint, which is their fin when it would come up. The little ridges along the top of their fin are identified to a particular whale so they could start cataloging how many are in the pod. You could see pictures of how are they interacting with each other, things like that. And then when they blow through their blowhole, that's their DNA or snot and the drone could collect it in Petri dishes, and that's how SnotBot was born. Then the drone would fly back to the ship and we'd have Intel powered workstations and AI algorithms and things to download all the data. They'd have just a much bigger, healthier dataset to actually be able to correlate predictions and things that were going on in the whale community that they just never knew in the past.

BRANDON:

It's so cool. It's this really inspiring story about the earth's oceans, whales and how technology is helping with all the above. I really love the way that you, and your team, brought this to life at one of the events. I forget which event it was.

ALYSON:

It was CES.

BRANDON:

It was CES.

ALYSON:

Yeah. What we did was at the time that we were doing that campaign, it happened to be around CES, so we had this big cylinder. One of the things that is important to me is to use emerging technology in your marketing. Again, this experience, getting technology in the hands of the person that you're trying to tell a story to or message to. We created this huge cylinder, but I don't even know how high, 50 feet high or something gigantic in the middle of our booth. We had iPads and basically augmented reality experience, where people could come up to this big cylinder and go like, "What is that?" As soon as they put the iPad up, whales were floating around and we had a couple of different stories.

BRANDON:

Inside the cylinder or around?

ALYSON:

Around the cylinder-

BRANDON:

Around-

ALYSON:

In the cylinder, everywhere around that structure. We were able to story tell and then break down the story of the technology that was used and also the business outcome for the researchers and what they were able to differently because they had this technology available to them. It was just a fun way to show and using augmented reality and using technology to do marketing.

BRANDON:

Another really cool initiative that I heard about is the tech learning lab. Could you tell us a little bit more about that?

ALYSON:

Yeah. Actually, it's funny that we're sitting here in New York. It started here in New York. We have an education team at Intel, always have and we're always trying to create really great learning solutions with technology for classrooms and organizations and things like that. We've always done that. But I met a principal, here in New York, who is the principal in the Bronx in the, as he says, "poorest congressional district the country." This school of amazing students from the Bronx, who didn't have access to a lot of great technology or innovation. He and I were talking and I just said, "If you could do anything or had a wishlist, what would it be?" We got to talking. Anyway, that conversation led us to me thinking about I'm trying to tell brand stories that connect business outcomes, in this case for the business of education and showing that Intel technology is in places that nobody expects it to be.

I was like, "Oh man, there's got to be something we can do to bridge these two things." I worked with Infinity Marketing and they created a mobile truck. Literally one of those trucks that travels around the country, but turns into a experience on the ground when they unfold it and unpack it and all kind of stuff. They created a classroom of the future and was showing a ton of education advancements. We toured it around the country to poor neighborhoods and poor schools, as well as middle of the road schools and elite schools. We were setting up classrooms of the future at each of these places and helping kids learn differently. For example, one of the things that I loved was frog dissection in virtual reality.

BRANDON:

In virtual reality, a lot less messy.

ALYSON:

Yes. And doesn't smell like formaldehyde. I remember that to this day.

BRANDON:

Me too.

ALYSON:

From yeah ... oh boy. But some schools can't afford to get the frogs or the equipment or whatever and so we equipped them with VR headsets. There's an instructor and the way you learn the kids ... and we had the kids doing this stuff. Doing the chemistry class, doing the frog dissection class, doing ... flying through space to learn about the planets and the solar system, doing a virtual reality of Smithsonian Museum on Burning Man and seeing the actual Burning Man artwork where it was so real like that the feathers on the costume are feathery, right? Just amazing, mind blowing experiences that these kids wouldn't be able to have and watching them engage and they were excited and they were not wanting to put the frog dissection class down, if you will. Really, really cool to see how technology can change learning outcomes. In addition to the VR stuff, we had to teach kids how to code. We taught them a coding language and then they would code indoor drones to go through an obstacle course.

BRANDON:

Wow, that sounds kind of advanced.

ALYSON:

It was awesome and they could do it and they realized-

BRANDON:

In one day they would just-

ALYSON:

Yes.

BRANDON:

Wow.

ALYSON:

In a couple of hours, not even a day. They loved it and it was so exciting to see the drones flying around and they could get it ... and they'd miss at first, couldn't get it through the ring or whatever. They'd go back and go back and change their program and all of that to make it work. So engaging and so interesting and inspiring to see these kids who weren't engaging in this kind of stuff, programming, for example, to be so excited about it. That's the perfect marriage to me of there is a business outcome for schools, they need to know that there's an Intel solution that can help them and can change it and is accessible learning outcomes for students. Getting that STEM, of course, we're a technology company. We want kids and girls, all kids to be inspired by technology and mathematics and science, all those kinds of things. Just to go touring around and giving them that opportunity and then again working with Infinity to make that experience just so fun for them, that's the kind of bringing it all together where we get to tell a great story and the world gets to experience something that they didn't know and it's really amazing.

BRANDON:

This reminds me of another really cool initiative that your team led and I never thought I'd ever say this before, but augmented reality butterflies.

ALYSON:

Yes.

BRANDON:

Could you tell us a little bit more about that campaign?

ALYSON:

Yes. We had been at NRF, a retail trade show in New York, happens every January, it's really big at the Javits Center, right here in New York. We've been there for a really long time. We were just trying to figure out ... we were talking about ROI and are these booths and in-person events ... are they worth it, all that stuff. We thought what are the kinds of things that we want to get out of being at a show like NRF and it was customer opt-in, so like acquisition of their details and their permission to market them, to nurture them. We wanted engagement. We wanted buzz throughout the show. We wanted share a voice in the press coverage and we have a very unique situation in the world where Intel shows up at trade shows in more places than just the Intel booth because we have our partners all over the place. They have an Intel story to tell too, but they don't necessarily spend a lot of time telling an Intel story, they tell their story.

With all of that in mind, we came across a wonderful company called Vblock and these guys were doing innovative work that we wanted to implement, so we did. At NRF, in January, in the Jacob Javits Center and outside of it, we released tens of thousands of butterflies, but they were the digital kind. Everyone has a phone on them at these shows and we asked them to download an app and, of course, that gave you opt-in and demographic information and things like that about the person. But what they could do is through augmented reality go around Jacob Javits Center and find butterflies in their phone flying all around them. It would do things like we'd have a cluster of butterflies at all of the partner booths so that it would drive people to go, catch butterflies, in different parts of the center.

BRANDON:

So really showcase how Intel is powering all these different technologies beyond just say showing a logo in a partner booth or something like that?

ALYSON:

Exactly, so they could get the story. Also those butterflies had content associated with them, so you could catch these butterflies and then get a link to a video or a white paper or a message about retail, statistics, whatever we wanted to show. At the partner booths, the story of and that partner, for example. It was a really interesting way to extend and get people to engage with content right there at the show. Also, it was creating a ton of buzz. People were looking around going, "What are you doing?" Because we had a contest. We gamified, right? Gamification is a big one, fun for people especially at a trade show. The more butterflies you caught, you could win prizes at the Intel booth. We were driving traffic back to our booth and it was just creating all this buzz by people running around trying to catch butterflies and others who didn't know what was going on would ask. We got great share of voice coverage. We got these opt-ins. We were driving people to other parts of the show that were telling the Intel story. We were driving traffic back to our booth. We were showing retailers a really cool engagement technology that they could use, coupons or whatever.

We also did a charity event associated with it. We had different color butterflies and for every one of those caught, we were giving back to the Retail Orphan Initiative. We give money to them every year, but this was ... we increased it based on people who were catching a different colored butterfly. And know by the way, we released butterflies in Manhattan as well, so not just in the conference center. It was really, really fun and it really did check all those boxes. We were taking a chance. We'd never done anything like that before. I never heard of it, never saw it, didn't know if it would work and it did.

BRANDON:

I mentioned this before, but this really reminds me of a really, really popular game that was out Pokemon GO. Maybe dabbled in a little Pokemon GO myself. I remember seeing scores of people gathering over in Union Square just with their phones up and it was an amazing experience and it was very fun. It seems like you encapsulated that and brought it to this business trade show.

ALYSON:

Yes, exactly right. It was at the time when that was still ... I have actually a training center by my house, I'm not kidding, outside my door. We live by a trail and people gather. And at first, I was like, "Why are people gathering near my house" and I realized, I think there's a Pokemon GO training center right here.

BRANDON:

There's a training center, that's where they're competing with one another, really showing their chops and all the Pokemon they caught.

ALYSON:

Which is awesome.

BRANDON:

This brings up something I'd love to talk about a little bit more, which is your approach to incorporating B2C elements in your B2B campaigns. Could you share a little bit more about how you approach that?

ALYSON:

It hit me in the last role I had at HP. I was leading PC marketing, so across consumer and commercial and commercial, so B2C and B2B at the same time for the Americas. I remember I'd have one conversation with Renada. She was the B2C person, we'd talk about how we were using YouTube influencers and this way before that was a thing. I think HP did a really good job being forefront of using influencers in interesting ways early, early on. We're talking about all these B2C engaging and interesting and fun and doing contests and gamifying stuff and whatever. Then I'd go meet with Lisa on the B2B side and we'd talk about, and I'm kidding sort of, but the same old boring, okay what are the speeds and feeds that we're going to speak about and what little trade show are we going to go to.

It hit me, we're on the same team and it was this a-ha moment for me that the things we were doing in our very own same exact team, we could take advantage of for real engagement, treating B2B audience like people, giving them experiences that were fun and interesting, but still worth sharing the value of a business outcome. It really was this light bulb moment for me. I've taken that forward with me for the rest of my career and is really trying to find inspirational stories. I think that PR agency, career-starting development was still in there somewhere and telling stories that are inspirational about business outcomes and doing it in fun, creative ways. There's no reason not to do that in B2B. I've been asked a couple of times, B2B and B2C, and what's the difference. There is no difference. There should be no difference. It's whatever your target is. Know your target, be best friends with your insights organization, understand personas and everything that makes your target tick.

It doesn't matter what kind of target it is, what vertical industry it's in, if it's a consumer, a gamer versus a mom. You have to still know the differences even within consumer, for example. Knowing that, where they live in the real world and where they live on the web and creating really interesting stores that will resonate with them and experiences for them. It doesn't matter if it's B2B or B2C.

BRANDON:

In some of the campaigns that we were talking about, some of the events, it seems like there are, in many cases, events where Intel is exhibiting or might be sponsoring or partnering with another organization in same way. As the VP of Marketing, how do you determine, which events, which sponsorships or partnerships you're going to go all-in on for in-person experiences?

ALYSON:

Intel does not have an awareness problem anywhere in the world. We don't do logo sponsorships at all. Don't want to, don't need to, it's not something that's in our repertoire. You take all those off the table and then you get to we've got a relevance concern. We need to be relevant on the B2B side, because we're not known in some places on the B2B side. Again, not an issue on the PC side of the house, but it is on the B2B side of the house. Then, we start looking at vertical industries and where groups of our target that we've got persona work on and we know where they are and what's important to them, where did they gather anyway? They're already going to go to NRF or to the health show or HANNOVER MESSE is a manufacturing event in Germany, right? These are very vertically focused to oil and gas industry, whatever and go there because our target is there. Then figure out each show to show to show what would be the most interesting way to show off what our solution is.

At NRF, we did the butterflies to show retailers a retail activation, but at the manufacturing shows, we have a robotic arm, for example, and computer vision and we're showing how computer vision is changing the way manufacturing gets done in the world, for example. Totally different, but relevant to that audience. Again, it's not every show, it's not always a booth and it's change the thing you're demoing based on who you're talking to and give them the experience that they would appreciate. That's always in our minds as we think about activating in the real world.

BRANDON:

When you are investing in one of these events, one of these campaigns, how do you afterwards go about determining whether or not that investment was successful?

ALYSON:

We have so many metrics. I don't know. It feels like there's way more metrics at Intel than in most industries. I don't know, that might not be true, but it feels like it. We do measure everything from, like I was talking about in the butterfly example, engagement, traffic to a booth, opt-ins, leads generated, closed business, business meetings that happen in the back of the booth and the meeting room space, for example, share a voice with the press, partner engagement, things like that. On any given event, there is tons and tons of metrics that we do measure. But sometimes it's hard to prove marketing that is a direct line to a closed sale. We're just trying to keep iterating, keep learning. That's why the butterflies was such as interesting thing. We never done it. We didn't know what kind of results we'd get from it or even what we could measure and we were able to measure so much more than we thought. I'm super open to continue to try these new things and see. The parts that work, keep those going and the parts that don't, say goodbye.

BRANDON:

In pulling off these really cool experiences, I understand that you partner with an agency, in addition to having your own in-house events team at Intel.

ALYSON:

Right.

BRANDON:

When you were going about searching for an events agency to work with, what do you look for?

ALYSON:

I am so fortunate to work with Infinity Marketing for years and years. In fact, they are an agency of Intel's, but not in the way that they were with HP when I was there. I basically brought them with me, if you will to do more and more experiential. What I look for to start, many years ago, a decade ago when I started with Infinity, it was somebody who could translate and understand what I was trying to do. Because I always try to push the boundaries and I'm always trying to do weird stuff. I met Chad Tons, the CEO of the company and he got it. I'd say I want to go get HP workstations powered by Intel in the hands of the creative community in New York to show them, you know, when I was at HP. I'm being very careful here, but show them that workstation was more powerful than an Apple, which the creative community was all Apple.

I was talking to him about it and we just started iterating ideas and he got it and we created this amazing event in New York many years ago called Power Up. It was showing different parts of the creative community that weren't using a PC-based solution in their work architects, record studios, filmmakers, photographers, these really interesting, creative jobs, fashion industry and game makers, video game makers. We put our technology in the hands and Chad helped me realize an entire week's worth of activation in New York around it. I say that to say that he got it. And then ever since we started working together, never once has he let me down. I trust him explicitly. I give him my ideas and he comes back with amazing making it real examples. Year after year after year, it's just worked.

I don't know. What to look for is somebody who understands your vision, somebody who can translate to you that they understand and can show you on paper, telling you back to you is this what it is that you're looking for so that we can both see something and agree and then it makes it so much easier to be able to understand, yup, we're all on the same page. Somebody who is quoting you back to you, I think Harry Met Sally just ran into my brain, and being able to translate that in the real world.

BRANDON:

I think we discussed this a little bit, but who's an influential marketing or events executive that you think is really doing a great job out there?

ALYSON:

I think Microsoft has been doing a really good job transforming themselves under their new-ish CEO Satya and talking about empowering. It's a through line from everything from their prospectus and their quarterly calls to their website to their television commercials to their trade show events to whatever. I think that connecting a story, if you will, a message about what they are and what their purpose is, I think they've done a really good job of it. Hats off to them, their whole leadership team and their marketing folks for being able to get that consistent message out there. I think that there's some really cool events people like even a small company, the complete opposite of microsoft, this VBlock guys, who did the butterfly activation for us. I mean, really creative, interesting, innovative startups out there that are thinking about how to use technology in new and interesting ways. I think the combination of those is what inspires me and I think other companies take notice.

BRANDON:

Great. Okay. Last question. You've had a very successful career in tech, in marketing, in storytelling, but if you could go back earlier and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?

ALYSON:

Take the new opportunity. Just because you're going down a path, whether it's pharmacy school or you're in one business unit at a company, like I'm the PC person. I moved over to the enterprise side of the house. That was very scary for me when I did it because I had always been in consumer electronics basically kind of companies and then moved to the data center side. Going to Geneva Switzerland, moving to Intel, I think it's that just because you were on a path and some new thing comes up, take advantage of it. Take advantage of your own career and try the new thing that's presented to you. Because in my experience, that new thing presented to me helped me grow and helped me expand my knowledge and understanding and brain and how marketing can help business. I think all of those experiences and all of those steps that I took that I never thought I would take are the things that help me get to where I am.

BRANDON:

Okay. It's been a really cool conversation on Star Wars and dissected frogs and augmented reality butterflies.

ALYSON:

Yes.

BRANDON:

I think this stuff is absolutely fascinating and I think a lot of our listeners might think it's pretty cool as well. If they're interested in keeping up-to-date with some of the latest trends in technology and some of the other cool stories that are being told by Intel, where can they go to learn more?

ALYSON:

Oh, cool. You can follow me on Twitter Alyson_Griffin and LinkedIn, I post a lot stuff that we're doing there, also obviously Intel, but thank you for that. I am really excited to keep innovating and pushing. I like to hear from people in social channels and get ideas from the marketing world as well. Please give me some ideas. I would love to have a conversation.

BRANDON:

Love it. All right. Thank you so much, Alyson.

ALYSON:

Thank you, it was great.

BRANDON:

Okay. That was a lot of fun. A big thanks to Alyson for joining us and thank you for listening. You know, we talk a lot about making events memorable. Whether this is with great content, great networking opportunities or venue design elements that are imminently Instagram-able, there's so much that event professionals can do without having to rely on technology. However, after hearing Alyson recount unleashing millions of augmented reality butterflies across Manhattan or teaching school children how to program a drone in a couple of hours with a cool mobile exhibit and after hearing about how these activations really stuck with the participants, I found myself re-imagining how technology can integrate with events without being intrusive, but as a relevant compliment to a greater story being told.

The question I'll leave you with is this. Would you call yourself more of an old school purist or are you already finding ways to integrate technology into your events experiences? In either case, why? Chew on it, discuss it with your colleagues and if you have any thoughts or feedback on the show, feel free to drop us a line at in-person@bizzabo.com. We've had some great guests and topic suggestions from you all in the past and we always look forward to hearing what you have to say. You can also find full transcripts of the show, along with key takeaways at inpersonpodcast.com. Until next time, I'm Brandon Rafalson. This has been IN-PERSON, keeping taking those opportunities.