IN-PERSON is a podcast series that tells the stories behind the world's most daring events and the people who make them happen.

Music by Winesap.

 

GUEST SUBMISSIONS
By Industry
By Topic
By Role
feather_search

19 | Janna Erickson, Drift: Hijacking Events and Hand-to-hand Combat

  • October 16, 2019
  • 36:22

Janna Erickson, Director of Events at Drift, discusses why you should consider hijacking events, the art of event marketing hand-to-hand combat, managing an events team from “startup” to “scale-up”, and parleying event expertise in discussions with key stakeholders.

You can also listen on these platforms:

Top Takeaways

1

HIJACKING EVENTS: For Janna, everything starts with the event experience. In order to make it easier for attendees to come to events, she schedules Drift events around bigger and highly visible professional events like Hubspot’s INBOUND or Salesforce’s Dreamforce. For growth teams or teams looking for brand awareness, event hijacking is a great strategy as it, “makes it easier for people to attend because the world is saturated with events and you want to make sure that you're thinking about the customers first.”

2

MASTERING EVENT MARKETING HAND-TO-HAND COMBAT: Drift leveraged some creative thinking to find the right individuals to attend a recent Atlanta event. Janna seized the moment and reached out to event registrants to ask for referrals—throwing in some Drift swag as an extra incentive. “Your number one list that you should be working with is the list of people who’ve already registered. They're the ones that came out, they're the ones that are interested, so they're the ones that are going to know who else should be attending that event.”

3

MANAGING TEAMS FROM STARTUP TO SCALE-UP: Over the course of Drift’s event evolution, the team has grown from a startup that measures event attendance, experience and energy, and brand. As the team has scaled-up to 21 marketers, the shift has included a larger focus on demand gen metrics and an accountability hierarchy map using RACI (responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed). “We're using RACI internally now for Hypergrowth because there are so many different moving pieces as we grow away from the brand. There’s all these different levels on the marketing team of where people are involved. Identifying who is responsible, who is accountable for the actions, who is consulted and who is informed really helps.”

ABOUT Janna Erickson

Janna joined Drift in 2017 to help take the team’s event strategy to the next level. Prior to Drift, Janna accumulated over 8 years of event experience from working at brands like HubSpot, Kayak.com, and TomTom.

Episode Transcript

BRANDON:

Drift is all about conversational marketing. So I thought we'd start today's discussion with a common conversational topic.

JANNA:

Perfect.

BRANDON:

So my first question for you is, would you say you are a dog person, or would you say that you're a dog person?

JANNA:

Dog or a dog person?

BRANDON:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Common question.

JANNA:

I'd say I'm definitely a dog person, since there's only one option. I do have a golden retriever named Rodney, who is 14. So he's kind of the light of my life.

BRANDON:

Wow. Oh, wow.

JANNA:

Don't tell my boyfriend. But I do have a cat too.

BRANDON:

Oh, you do? The plot thickens.

JANNA:

Yes. He's 22 pounds and his name is Larry David.

BRANDON:

Larry David.

JANNA:

Yes.

BRANDON:

A 22 pound Larry David.

JANNA:

Yes. And he's fresh, so yeah, he fits his name very well.

BRANDON:

So, which animal entered your your life first?

JANNA:

Rodney.

BRANDON:

Rodney?

JANNA:

Yep.

BRANDON:

Okay. So you're a dog person.

JANNA:

I'm definitely a dog person. Larry David came as a little bit of an impulse purchase. Thought Rodney needed a friend.

BRANDON:

Yeah. And do they get along pretty well?

JANNA:

Larry David loves Rodney. Rodney tolerates Larry David.

BRANDON:

Interesting. I thought it'd be the other way around.

JANNA:

Yeah. He's obsessed with Rodney.

BRANDON:

Wow.

JANNA:

Yep.

BRANDON:

Okay. To really set the stage for today's conversation, could you tell us a little bit more about Drift and your responsibilities there as the director of events?

JANNA:

Absolutely. So, as you said earlier, Drift focuses on conversational marketing, and that is something that we try to bring across to all businesses and all people. And bringing that into events, it makes events all about conversation, because that's what we all want at the end of the day. And that's the way that you're going to close your deals. That's where you're going to open up those new deals. And that's where we're all going to make that money that we need at the end of the day.

BRANDON:

Yeah, and you have a lot of experience with events. You've been with Drift for over two years. You were previously managing events at HubSpot and TomTom. For a limited amount of time, you were working at Kayak in an EA role, but you were actually doing some-

JANNA:

Some internal events.

BRANDON:

Some internal events.

JANNA:

Yeah. As we were talking earlier, being an executive assistant is probably one of the, I have to say, it's probably one of my favorite roles, only because you have direct access to everything. You know all and everyone needs to be nice to you if they want to get what they need.

BRANDON:

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

JANNA:

But also working in a tech company, you're doing everything.

BRANDON:

For sure.

JANNA:

It's not your typical executive assistant role, so you've really learned a lot of different things about companies.

BRANDON:

Just put into all sorts of different situations, but not officially a member of the events team, not officially a member of X,Y,Z team.

JANNA:

Exactly. You get to dabble and know everyone in the company versus just staying on that one team.

BRANDON:

Yeah, yeah. How did you first get involved with events and what led you to Drift?

JANNA:

Okay. Yeah, so I can go back on the timeline a little bit. When I first graduated I ended up at a company called TomTom. First it was Tele Atlas. TomTom acquired us. And I was working on trade shows there. I started going to the Consumer Electronics Show and the CTIA Wireless Show and doing those large booths. And I just kind of dropped into it and was like, "This is amazing. I love all these different experiences. How can I continue this on my career?"

So as I grew through TomTom, just came to the right place that I ended up becoming the executive assistant trying to explore other opportunities, because the company was a little larger than I was used to. Had a fabulous time at Kayak, really got into that tech space and met some great people. And one in particular has really helped form my career, which was Paul English, the CTO co-founder at Kayak. He was my manager then, and now has become one of my great friends. Paul is the one that really introduced me into the world of events and getting back into marketing because he said that that was this talent that I clearly had.

BRANDON:

Wow.

JANNA:

And really helped with my next big introduction in the event world was at HubSpot, and he was the one that led me there, which went on to another mentor, Mike Volti. And he helped me with the event strategy on the level of, you can work on a large event like HubSpot's Inbound, which is amazingly run and is a fabulous event. But I actually was able to dabble in field marketing, which was a different spin on my last couple years at HubSpot. So I learned, I was able to put that other hat on my head saying, "Okay, I understand what sales is trying to get out of these events versus just the experience," which then coincidentally led me to Drift.

BRANDON:

Okay. So, one of the big takeaways there is getting a perspective on events from multiple internal stakeholders from the... You mentioned the experience side, so that was more would you say align with the marketing team?

JANNA:

Yeah, more the brand-

BRANDON:

More the brand.

JANNA:

... part of the marketing team. And then bringing it into the field marketing side with the demand gen side of marketing and really focusing on the sales and marketing alignment to see where you have to look at events as they can be a loss because you're looking at that budget, and if you're not making that money back, what is the point of doing them?

BRANDON:

Because they're fun.

JANNA:

That's how I think about it. I wish it was that easy.

BRANDON:

All right, so just looking back at all these different companies that you've been a part of, it seems like you've gathered a lot of experience during that time. You've had the opportunity to look at events from different perspectives, and now you're here at Drift. Drift was founded in 2015. In 2017, you were brought on to take Drift's event strategy to the next level, including bringing Drift's first flagship event, Hypergrowth, to life. Could you give us a behind the scenes peek at the ideation process for Hypergrowth and how you worked with your team to execute it?

JANNA:

Yeah.

BRANDON:

Especially that first year.

JANNA:

Absolutely. So the first year was tough because I actually came on only three weeks before Hypergrowth. So I can't take all credit behind the strategy. That was definitely a Dave Gerhardt and David Cancel brainchild. But I was able to come on, help them clean up a few things, and make sure the day was successful. And then, over the next year to two years, we've really grown that event to the next level. The first year we were around 800 people. It was fabulous. The room was packed, everyone, the energy was great. But it was still the popups, just the backstage banner, the normal stage, not really the experience besides what we had for speakers. And so, the following year, we really brought it to the next. We brought actually two on, instead of just doing the one in Boston. And we moved it onto a venue that could hold over 3000 people. And we had just under that at an outdoor space and made it more like a festival.

BRANDON:

Whoa. And now this year in Boston?

JANNA:

Yes. Yes. So that was last September. And then, on top of that, we really spent a little bit more money on our speakers in time, so it wasn't just tactical, but we really focused on the inspirational side of it to make sure the event was catered to all businesses. And we had great response on that and moved on to San Francisco three weeks later and did another fabulous event of almost 2000 people in San Francisco with the same type of format as Boston.

BRANDON:

So I think it's really impressive that Drift being founded only a handful of years ago has already been able to get this event machine up and running. When you think about the audience that you're trying to bring to these events and the type of content, what has been your main focus?

JANNA:

I see my main focus really, especially over the last year, as having the right speakers. Drift, the one thing that we adopted out of the gates in 2017, and it's something we've been continuing to do, and we go back and forth about it, is we're one stage, one day. So how do we get that entire audience captured for that entire day without having the breakouts and feeling like they all are going to resonate with the speakers and bring something home from that?

BRANDON:

Okay. So having that one stage focus. And today, is Hypergrowth still a one stage, one track event?

JANNA:

Yep. As of right now for 2019 we're still one stage, one day.

BRANDON:

Okay, great. Any plans to expand?

JANNA:

We're not sure. We are, of course, toying with different ideas for 2020. The big expansion in 2019 was doing our first international Hypergrowth, so we did one in London back in June, which was a huge success. We had just about 1500 people in the room.

BRANDON:

Huge.

JANNA:

Which we were pleased with. And we've really taken on a different theme this year and made it feel like we took over these spaces with the spray paint and the graffiti and just making it an overall fun day.

BRANDON:

So, the theme in London was different than it was, say, in Boston?

JANNA:

Absolutely.

BRANDON:

I think that's really interesting. It's like elements of localizing and differentiating the different events that comprise an event brand or event series.

JANNA:

Totally. I think the thing with Drift, and this is something I think we always have to keep in mind, especially as we plan forward for 2020, 2021 is I love when people walk into a Hypergrowth and they go, "Wow, it's different again." And I love feeling and I feel like that's something with the venues. Our recent Boston event was just at the historic Wang Theatre. So you walked in and you're thinking you're going to a Broadway show with a beautiful theater. But instead it's all lit up in different ways. We have a beatboxer, we have a light show. Everything is different. And so now moving on to San Francisco in November, who knows, we might surprise you with something else.

BRANDON:

So whether you're thinking about the festival experience or this beatboxing inside of a theater sort of Russian doll situation, or graffiti over at the venue in London. How do you go about coming up with these ideas? Do you have a specific process for bouncing them off someone or research?

JANNA:

Yeah, so we have a wonderful creative director, Matt Guemple. And so him and I basically sit down at the beginning of the year right before planning starts and think about what we think the theme is. I run by all the venues with him so he gets an idea of where we're going, what we can do, what we can't do, and then we run from there. And then of course we sit down with a production team that we outsource and we really work hard with them to make sure we can achieve our visions.

BRANDON:

When we're looking at the performance of an event like Hypergrowth, whether it's here in the US or it's abroad in London, what are the business outcomes that you're aiming to achieve? And how do you go about measuring them?

JANNA:

I think we got to look back to the first one, and even last year, and then how that's changed for Drift as we're growing as a scale-up now instead of a startup. Things have definitely changed on our goals. Originally, it was the first year was we weren't sure. It was the first year, just pack the room and hope for the best, was the goal. Make sure we hit these attendee numbers. Last year was similar on the level of we have a goal at Drift that we don't like empty seats. The room needs to be full. There needs to be lots of energy. And then also we want the experience to be fabulous. We want people to leave there, we want them talking about on social, them to remember the event and not feel like they were just sitting in a convention hall at another typical event. So it was all been brand, everything's been brand. How do we get people to talk about Drift more and talk about Hypergrowth? Now, fast forward to 2019, this year.

BRANDON:

Almost 2020.

JANNA:

I know. I feel like we should be at 2020.

BRANDON:

Almost there.

JANNA:

Yes. Fast forward to this year in 2019, our team has grown. We've gone from a marketing team of three to a marketing team of, I'd say we're around 21. Now, we have a full creative team, we have a full demand gen team, we have a full content team, and then of course we have an events team. So now the goals have really increased on the level of we can look at what the ROI is of the event through what is sales doing with the event? Are they booking meetings at the event? What's the 30/60/90 projection afterwards? Did we fill pipeline for 2020? So we have a lot more of that being implemented this year, so it's not just the typical goals of we want 50% to attend, we want full room.

BRANDON:

Sure, sure. It's easy to keep track of we have a full house, et cetera. And now we're moving into more of these demand gen based metrics.

JANNA:

Exactly.

BRANDON:

Looking back at when the focus of Hypergrowth was on brand awareness, were there any specific ways that you were monitoring, "Hey, we actually did a good job this time."

JANNA:

Definitely our NPS survey. We always like to send one of those out afterwards. Of course we monitor all social engagement to see what people are saying out there. And we've done some other surveys afterwards, like interviewing, kind of like what we're doing right now, with attendees and sponsors and speakers to get their feedback as well.

BRANDON:

Great.

JANNA:

And so, if we left feeling like it was overall a positive day, then we feel like we can give ourselves a pat on the back.

BRANDON:

Do the majority of those conversations with the attendees or maybe any partners that might be involved with the event, do those happen at the event or afterwards?

JANNA:

Usually post, because we are one day.

BRANDON:

Okay.

JANNA:

There's a lot going on. We do have someone from Drift walking around. This year we actually introduced a live podcast booth at all the events, which was really fun. So we could have, yes, we did have the executives in there, but then we also had all our internal podcasts being broadcast and bringing in customers as they're walking by to get quotes at the event.

BRANDON:

Awesome. It's really interesting to hear a lot about Hypergrowth and how you've been able to grow that brand in a hyper fashion. I would love to speak a little bit more on this idea of hijacking events, and what you have mentioned as a hand to hand combat.

JANNA:

Yeah.

BRANDON:

You all have a very innovative approach to doing events, whether it's Hypergrowth or smaller events as well, or activations. So, one thing that popped up in our previous conversation was this idea of "hand to hand combat." And I typically, when I hear those words, I'm thinking of The Matrix or some sort of Kung Fu movie or Jason Bourne or James Bond. I could go on. I think of action movies.

JANNA:

These could be cool themes for 2020's events.

BRANDON:

There we go. But how does this relate to event marketing?

JANNA:

So, actually, if you look at hijacking, I'm going to talk a little bit about some of the smaller events, but if you actually look back at Hypergrowth, that's sort of been developed on a hijacked as well. We always look at successful fabulous conferences that are going on around the nation, the world, and how can we draft off of that and also look at like... So, for instance, Hypergrowth in Boston is around inbound. We have similar customers, so it makes sense. Everyone's in Boston at the same time. Why not do it then? And we do the same thing with Salesforce and Dreamforce. Our Hypergrowth in November is going to be the day before the first day of Dreamforce. Trying to make it easier for people to attend because the world is saturated with events and we want to make sure that we're thinking about our customers first.

So that goes into the larger scale, but then it gets fun when we get into the smaller things. With Drift, again, we love to attend events as well, so we want to make everything about an experience. So, for instance, we can do our first event in Atlanta. We did it on top of Rainmaker. We're great friends with them. David Cancel was speaking. We're like, "Why don't we do a meetup/roadshow the night before the event starts so we can capture all those people that are traveling to Rainmaker and also the Atlanta audience. It ended up being a huge success in the end, but this is where the hand to hand combat comes in.

BRANDON:

Okay. Action fans, tune in.

JANNA:

Yes, absolutely. So Drift being a smaller company at the time we did this Atlanta event, our lists were not gigantic. We don't have the level of some of these companies that have over 500, thousands of individuals working for them. So, when we started to look at the Atlanta Red's numbers about a month out, I was like, "Whew, my goal is to have 500 registered. We're only at 100." So that's where I had to get into the nitty gritty and dig down into the social world and make myself a little bit of an Atlanta socialite so I can say on Twitter. And really just found the right people and really worked with them on, "Hey, I noticed that you're coming to the Atlanta roadshow with Drift. Who else should I invite? Can you give me five more and let me incentivize you with some swag?" And so, always trying to find that hook in that offer that brought it so they gave you more people.

And again, a big huge seeker is always use that list. You're number one list that you want to be working with on these is the list of people that have already registered, because they're the ones that came out, they're the ones that are interested, so they're the ones that are already going to know who else should be attending that event. And we hit our reg goals by doing less. It was a lot of extra work, but it was actually a lot of fun. When I arrived in Atlanta, I was super excited to meet all my new friends. And we had a fabulous time.

BRANDON:

That's amazing. That's so cool. And I think that's just a really great story of just being an agent of change with your event strategy. If something's not going right, putting in that extra grit, that hand to hand combat to make it happen. Tell me this, were you a big person on social media beforehand?

JANNA:

Yes and no. I'm more of a I want to post pictures of Rodney and Larry than I am really actually going out that much on Twitter. I'm no Dave Gerhardt and constantly being that active, so that also made it a little bit of fun and I learned a lot, I should say.

BRANDON:

Yeah.

JANNA:

So it was kind of fun. Pull my sleeves up, get right into the dirt.

BRANDON:

For some hand to hand combat. So another, I think, really cool example of this is what you all did at SaaStr with the Drift van.

JANNA:

Oh, the van. Let me tell you about that van.

BRANDON:

Yeah, I'd love to hear about the van.

JANNA:

So, it came up on an idea as Dave Gerhardt and I, going back and forth about what we could do at SaaStr that would be different and not be on a trade show floor. Because again, we're all about experiences. So we're like, "How can we make a mark and get people to think about Drift while they're at this event versus stopping by and picking up some sort of branded items, swag, at the event?" So we ended up settling on this van. We realized, "Okay, SaaStr is in San Jose, a lot of people are going to be traveling from San Francisco. How are they getting there? The trains could be miserable. We all know traffic is terrible. What's the best way to do this?" So we decided to brand a van. And this van was... We used it for customers and other people that were interested in getting rides from San Francisco to San Jose and then around San Jose throughout the event. The only hook on this was that I ended up being the one that had to drive the van.

BRANDON:

You were the driver?

JANNA:

I was the driver, the arranger. So Dave Gerhardt, Gonzalo, our head of video and creative, him and I trekked out to San Francisco. We picked up this gigantic van that held, I think it was 12 people, all branded, windows all mapped out. And we took it to the road. We drove it down to San Jose and we had a good time. We stocked it with snacks and people loved it. They saw the Drift van driving around. I gave rides from different parties and it was a lot of fun.

BRANDON:

Wow. So I think this is just such a crazy example. You were out there, not only is it eye-catching, it's a very unique way of getting your brand in front of other people, but you're also driving folks around.

JANNA:

Yes. Yeah, we definitely... No matter who you are at Drift, you're always going to be involved in something. You're never too good to drive a van.

BRANDON:

Any surprising interactions with some of the passengers who came in?

JANNA:

A couple of them literally just wanted to ride in the van. So, not being someone that's familiar with San Jose, we did a little sightseeing.

BRANDON:

So you were a tour guide as well.

JANNA:

Exactly. I had a lot of different hats on, on that trip, which was a lot of fun.

BRANDON:

So looking back at that campaign in particular, how did it go?

JANNA:

It went really well. This was all a brand awareness campaign, and it was on social media. It was what we wanted. People were noticing it. People were saying, "What are those crazy Drift people up to now?" It came across exactly what we wanted.

BRANDON:

I remember just seeing an email about it in my inbox and I was totally just blown away. I was just like, "This is insane." It got passed around our marketing department. Everybody was talking about it.

JANNA:

Oh, that's fun. That's good to hear.

BRANDON:

Okay, so another really cool example of this hijacking approach that you take to events is Sweat with Drift.

JANNA:

Yes.

BRANDON:

Could you tell us about this one?

JANNA:

Yeah, so that was something we named it Sweat with Drift in the past. Instead of always having parties at events, there's always an opportunity for an after hours cocktail. We really wanted to look at how else we could promote health and do something a little bit different. And so we thought, "Why not instead of hosting a party at Adrian Force of SaaStr, et cetera, why don't we host a workout? And get everybody in a room, and it's a select group, you send out the invitations, you pack that room, and then afterwards have a smoothie bar, and everyone networks then. And again, that's another thing that has been very successful. People want to sweat. They don't want to pay the $30 for berries or the $40, depending on what city you're in, or a SoulCycle. And so we've done that a few times and it's been fun.

BRANDON:

Great.

JANNA:

And it's also fun to sweat with your customers and your-

BRANDON:

Yeah, it's a fun way of interacting, and like you said before, this conversational nature of events, it really is breaking the ice when you're over there.

JANNA:

Yes, absolutely. When you're red in the face and can't breathe, it's a good ice-breaker.

BRANDON:

So you mentioned you've done SoulCycle in the past?

JANNA:

Yep. And we've done Barry's Bootcamp. And then, at Outreach's event, David Gerhardt did some meditation classes.

BRANDON:

Oh, very fun.

JANNA:

We did a fun run. So a lot of different things to help with your wellbeing.

BRANDON:

That's amazing. And like you said as well, I think that's just a really common need at events too. You're going there and you don't necessarily want to have to drop that.

JANNA:

Absolutely. And it makes you go too.

BRANDON:

And it makes you go. Looking back at some of the successes that Drift has had with this hijacking approach, it's kind of a loaded question, but would you recommend this to other organizations or do you think it's particularly relevant for certain types of organizations? Maybe at specific growth stages?

JANNA:

I think it really depends on what your goals are. So for us, a lot of this has been brand awareness. Now we actually do have the demand gen side of it. The field marketing team is actually really taking lead on these events now, which is fabulous. I guess simply to say we feel like we made it this year for Hypergrowth Boston because someone hijacked our event. So I do recommend it.

BRANDON:

Someone hijacked your event?

JANNA:

Yes. Somebody brought up an ice cream truck out in front of the Wang Theatre and literally there was a flurry of WhatsApps from from David Cancel and Dave Gerhardt. And Elias Torres saying, "You made it. We made it."

BRANDON:

So someone hijacked your event, which was hijacking another event.

JANNA:

Exactly. Just think of the way this keeps going. We can all benefit from each other.

BRANDON:

That's amazing. Okay. So throughout your career you've had the chance to work with larger event teams and you've also had the chance to work with smaller teams like here at Drift, and also working with some agencies elsewhere as well. Could you tell us about your current arrangement at Drift when it comes to your team structure and why it works for you?

JANNA:

Yeah, absolutely. So, when I came on to Drift, again, we were a very small marketing team, so I was a sole events person. And immediately Dave Gerhardt said, "Let's hire you somebody." And I said, "Actually, when looking at the budget, could I hire an agency?" In my experience, if you have the right agency, you get a lot more out of seven people for an agency for the same costs that necessarily one or two headcount could end up costing. Yes, it's difficult because you have to get them up to speed on your brand and how things internally work here. And then also working with finance and just all those different nuances. But for me in the last few years, it's been very beneficial. I work with emc3. They were based in London and have a Boston office. That team, I can't say enough about them and how fabulous they've been. They've helped me from registration to sourcing the right production to sourcing basically anything I need.

BRANDON:

Oh, wow.

JANNA:

Yeah.

BRANDON:

So they've been a really big asset for Drift.

JANNA:

They really have become... I feel like they've become part of the Drift team. They all wear Drift swag, they come into the office and everyone's excited to see them because they know that means it's Hypergrowth season. So, yeah, it's been a great experience for us right now. But as we're growing as a team now, more people are being involved, so there's definitely more... We developed our first RACI for Hypergrowth, which we've never done before.

BRANDON:

What's a RACI?

JANNA:

A RACI is basically a hierarchy that you've developed that it's responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed. So we're using that actually internally now for Hypergrowth because there's so many different moving pieces as we are growing just away from just the brand that there's all these different levels on the marketing team of where people are involved, so having that responsible, but who actually is accountable for the actions, then who is consulted. So I should always be consulted as the DRI, and then who is informed. And that could go all the way up to our CEO.

BRANDON:

So this is the way that you are looking at dividing responsibilities and in many ways managing your team as well.

JANNA:

Exactly.

BRANDON:

Which leads me to my next question. In addition to this RACI framework, how else would you describe your approach to both training and managing your team?

JANNA:

It's funny, I just had this conversation with my manager yesterday. Being at Drift for the last two years, again, I was saying you roll your sleeves up and you just do it. Transitioning into a larger team is definitely something you have to kind of sit back and just set the expectations and trust your team and know that they are doing the right thing and just manage them along the way. I still have that little like I want to just jump in. So I think that's where the team is definitely something I need to focus on and make sure that we're doing that.

BRANDON:

So enabling yourself to take more of a step back and coordinate the many different pieces as opposed to being in the thick of it?

JANNA:

Yes.

BRANDON:

As opposed to maybe driving the Drift van.

JANNA:

Exactly. Exactly.

BRANDON:

Who know? Maybe there's more driving the Drift van in the future. I don't want to rule that out because it sounds like it was a lot of fun.

JANNA:

I did okay. I didn't crash it. But yes, but also understanding, so Molly on our content team. She writes fabulous emails. I don't need to be writing the emails. Molly should be writing those emails. She should be running that. Jackie should be running the marketing promotion. That then coincides with Molly, and then works with Matilda to make sure the email gets sent out properly to the right list. I used to do all of that. Now I can sit back and watch them go and just give input and think of some crazy new promotions, and just making sure that I'm being informed on what's going on.

BRANDON:

Very cool. And when you are looking for adding new members to your team, I know you mentioned that it's really helpful to have a smaller head count and work with agency partners, but when you do add members to your team, what do you look for in a candidate?

JANNA:

Definitely somebody, of course, we always have to think about scrappy. We always say that, here at Drift, we don't want someone that thinks they're going to come in and they're going to have this crazy budget and spend on anything that they want. So that's important. I think for a lot of positions it's really, you need to be able to understand that this is all for the customer and for the attendee. And the attendee is your customer that day. And so to be in that mindset that that's what the goal is, to make them happy and to make them feel like it was worthwhile, worth their time, worth their money. And we all know time is money.

And then also right now having marketing experience is nice, but also having that creative side too and being able to be flexible, knowing that things could change. As I said, we're a scale-up not a startup now. So, as things change, roles change. So just being flexible.

BRANDON:

Whether you are organizing a really creative campaign with a van that you're driving around San Jose or you're staging an event like Hypergrowth, how do you parlay your experience as an event marketer when working with other internal stakeholders?

JANNA:

At any company, there's always a lot of cooks in the kitchen and there's always a lot of opinions around what should be done at events and what we should be measuring, what the outcome should be. But you have to really trust your gut. And this is something I would have told my old self and I stand by it and I know that David Cancel would laugh when he hears this, but you have to remember your executives and these large stakeholders are not always right. You are the expert and that's why they hired you. So if you feel passionately about something, really push forward and just think about other options on way to... You can almost trick them into going the way you want by putting those options forward.

BRANDON:

Got it. You present lots of different options, but in such a way that there's clearly a winning choice there.

JANNA:

Right. The path that you would like to go. You could say the path that is best for the business though too.

BRANDON:

All right. So when it comes to delivering these great event experiences, what sort of technologies are you using to make that happen?

JANNA:

Yeah, so we've used a lot of different technologies. Again, of course when you start out here as an event team of one, you just jump into what's given to you. So we started off using Eventbrite, which was basic. I've used it before, they're fabulous. They're very easy to use. It hit all the buttons for us in 2017. But as we grew and the events became larger and there was more things that we needed to get to our registration goals and to be able to depend a little bit on that registration software. We started looking at different things like Cvent, we looked at Splash, and then we looked at Bizzabo. And I'm very happy to say we did choose Bizzabo. I think one of the top reasons at the beginning as why I chose it was the customer service aspect. Shout out to Matt and your CSMs over at Bizzabo.

BRANDON:

Shout out to Matt.

JANNA:

He has been absolutely fabulous if I have a question or someone on my agency who helps manage registration has a question. So that right there was a huge selling point for me. And then also now as we've gone forward, just the ticket boosts, the social sharing options, your emails. I actually mentioned this to somebody the other day. Being an events team, you have your email marketers. They necessarily don't want emails going out to people at all different times of the day because they have other people they're going to. But then you're on crunch. I've used Bizzabo's email tool multiple times to hit a variety of different people just so that it's easier than sending out those one-on-ones.

BRANDON:

Got it. So using that for promotion as well. Are there any other tools that you find that have been really helpful, either specific tools or just generally speaking?

JANNA:

I think Drift is a great tool to have on your event site.

BRANDON:

Yeah. Do you incorporate Drift into your events at all?

JANNA:

Absolutely. So we have the bot positioned on our Hypergrowth page, and it answers all your questions as you go. And then if you have additional questions it drops you right into chat, so you can get me live or someone else on the team.

BRANDON:

Very cool. All right. And if people want to get in touch with you to hear about some of the cool things you're doing with Drift and Hypergrowth, or just to learn more about Drift, how can they keep up?

JANNA:

They can drop a chat on the Hypergrowth page. It's at hypergrowth.com. And just say that I'd like to chat with Janna or someone on the marketing team. And that will be routed to me.

BRANDON:

Awesome.

JANNA:

Which is fun. Of course, another way is email. But I would highly recommend chatting. We can have a conversation live and it makes it a little bit more fun and interactive.

BRANDON:

We mentioned some names of individuals who have been helpful for you in the growth of your career, all inspirational in some ways. Who's somebody else in the events or marketing or business based that you look up to?

JANNA:

I was going to say some other C level and do a name drop, but coincidentally, actually you were just with somebody that I really look up to who's going to be featured on one of these podcasts, Devin Cleary, the vice president of events over at PTC. I have looked up to him on his creativity and his level of experience in detail for some time when I worked with him at HubSpot.

BRANDON:

Amazing. Shout out to Devin. All right, so final question I have for you today, Janna, is, if you could give an earlier version of yourself one piece of advice, what would it be and why?

JANNA:

It's funny, when I was thinking about this question earlier, I was like, "Hmm." I think there's a couple of things I would tell myself, but one in particular, you're never stuck. So you might be in a position at a company where you're thinking, "Oh, my God, my career is over." You can always turn around and change it the next day. Just remember to understand that remember your qualities, what's good about you and where you can apply them. Because most of the times you can apply them to all different types of things. I look at my job as an EA, and back then I never would have thought that I'd be running events at Drift.

BRANDON:

And you somehow made it happen.

JANNA:

Yeah.

BRANDON:

Are there any additional tips there in terms of, "Okay, recognizing this isn't necessarily what I want to do. How can I parlay that into what I do want to do?"

JANNA:

I definitely think, like we said earlier, finding the right mentor that can help you along the way and knows what's best for you to get you to that next level. If I hadn't listened to some of my mentors, I'd still be stuck in maybe just the position where I'm only dealing with the experience, not thinking about the marketing and really being able to oversee a team and have that confidence.

BRANDON:

Great. Well, that's our time for today.

JANNA:

Amazing.

BRANDON:

Janna, thank you so much.

JANNA:

Thank you so much. I had a great time.