What Is The Future Of Go-To-Market?

April 25, 2023

Nick Bennett, Senior Director of Event-Led Growth and Evangelism at Airmeet, discusses the future of brand marketing and how micro-events are quickly becoming a game-changer. In this MasterSaaS Live, Nick shares his insights on the power of authentic collaborations between brands and creators, the importance of putting the attendee experience first, and how micro-events can be integrated into your overall marketing strategy.

The Go-To-Market Revolution: How to Stay Ahead in 2023

The world of marketing is constantly evolving, and in 2023, the focus is on creating personalized experiences for event attendees through micro-events, while also leveraging the power of social media and influencers to build a strong brand image. So, how can your brand adapt and stay ahead of the game?

Large-scale conferences are out

Micro events are in.

Micro events are the perfect opportunity to create a personalized experience for your attendees. They allow you to provide a more intimate experience for your target audience and connect with your customers on a deeper level.

One way to create a personalized experience is to lean on your creators.

Give them the tools and resources they need, and you can tap into an endless well of creativity — and create a next-level event everyone will be talking about.

Lean into influencer marketing 

We’re moving into a world of bite-sized content. And this is where influencers excel. 

Also, they’re already reaching a section of your audience in a super personal way. 

But there’s definitely a right and a wrong way to do influencer marketing and social media.

A good rule of thumb is to make sure nobody feels like they’re being sold to. Instead, you should be creating valuable content that makes their lives easier.

The market is changing

But change is the name of the game when you’re in marketing.

2023 is going to be all about creating meaningful interactions with customers — whether that through influencer marketing, micro-events, or bite-sized content.

Full Episode Transcript

Arthur Castillo: All right, another session here at the Demo Stack Studios, I'm here with my good friend, Nick Bennett. We are here at the B2BMX Conference and we're shooting some podcast style content here. Nick, why don't you tell the audience a little bit of, uh, where you're at today and what you do for the company?

Nick Bennett: Yeah, absolutely, thanks so much for having me. So, I am the senior director of ELG, event-led growth in evangelism at Airmeet. So we are a virtual event platform for making people's lives easier.

Arthur Castillo: I don't know if you all coined this term, I've heard Mark post quite a bit about it, but it's this idea of event-led growth.

Nick Bennett: Yeah-

Arthur Castillo: S-

Nick Bennett: ... event... It's, it's, it's interesting 'cause no one else is talking about that.

Arthur Castillo: Yeah.

Nick Bennett: But for us, it's putting the attendee first. So how do you-

Arthur Castillo: Mm-hmm.

Nick Bennett: ... center everything around it? So, the experience, the engagement, the data, everything is putting the attendee first, which goes back to a people-first strategy, shifting from a company-first go to market to a people first go to market, and how you do that, it should put the attendee first, so the content, the experience, the sponsors, everything focuses around the attendee, what they want to get out of this.

Arthur Castillo: What does that look like in terms of marketers who are listening, being, like, "Cool, Nick told me to put the attendee first," right? Events like growth, I'm gonna do this. How do they actually put that into practice?

Nick Bennett: I think it's just figuring out what type of style event you want to do because so many-

Arthur Castillo: Yeah.

Nick Bennett: ... times people say, "All right, I want to create content, or I want to take an event and I just want to do an event, pass the leads to sales." It's the wrong mentality. We need to do the event, but then how can you create so much content out of that? So think of micro-content, think of clips, social media, how can you create blog posts? Ultimately, it's creating an experience with someone, so they say, "Wow, like, okay, I get it. Like, Airmeet isn't trying to sell me, they're trying to create an experience that kind of like gets me to engage that much further."

Arthur Castillo: What is that, like, world-class experience, right? Is- is there an event that you could share of, like, this is what we think created a really good experience and maybe it led to something? What would it look like? Hey, this is, like, a world-class event experience?

Nick Bennett: We do this series called Power Hour-

Arthur Castillo: Okay.

Nick Bennett: ... and so we do one per month. It's ... So it's focused on customers, as well as like high intent leads, ultimately to convert them. And so it's really about actionable insights. So I'll give you a good example. So a couple weeks ago we did it on insights, and so analytics. So our platform, we focus a lot on the analytical piece, 'cause as marketers, so many people want to to do events but all they do is take the lead list-

Arthur Castillo: Yeah.

Nick Bennett: ... pass it over to sales, but how can you actually action that event intent, is what we call it. And so, we do these Power Hours and we broke it down into segments. So we bring a customer on, have them share their story, again, like-

Arthur Castillo: [inaudible 00:03:03]

Nick Bennett: ... social proof is right there.

Arthur Castillo: Yeah.

Nick Bennett: Then we bring someone from product on, get them to share the road map. So again, your future proofing where it is, where everything is going, people know, "Great, I'm gonna attend this event, I'm gonna see six months down the road, 12 months down the road, what Airmeet's is actually gonna build to make my life easier." And then we usually do another, um, series of segment from it, where it's just more of, how do you actually action this? So we brought on our head of SDRs as well as someone from, um, kind of, like a data analytics company. We talked about how do you actually action all of this if you're a customer that wants to take analytics and actually do something with it? So when I think of event intent for example, how can I be at an event and trigger and alert in Slack, or Teams, or email-

Arthur Castillo: Hmm.

Nick Bennett: ... that will say, "Hey, your target account is at this event right now, you should jump in. Don't pitch them, but just [inaudible 00:03:53], 'Hey, how's your experience? What'd you think of that session with Arthur? Was it awesome? Let me know if I can do anything for you, I'm a resource to you.'" And you're not waiting 'til post event when you're gonna get bombarded. I mean, think of B2BMX, like, how many vendors are gonna email you post event?

Arthur Castillo: Yeah.

Nick Bennett: Whereas if you could action this realtime, the conversion's gonna be so much higher, and you throw Chili Piper on that and the conversion goes through the roof.

Arthur Castillo: That's- that's what I'm talking about. This is, this is really interesting, 'cause I think you mentioned a bunch of different types of events there, and I think this would be really interesting for the audience to understand of, like, well how do you even look at, like, the types of content you create, the purpose behind it? Do you guys follow a specific framework around the content and the events that you design in terms of their purpose?

Nick Bennett: Yeah, so we base it on like the audience that we want to invite. So like Power Hour, for example, is for high intent leads, again, they're, they're hand raisers already,-

Arthur Castillo: Yeah.

Nick Bennett: ... not customers, they haven't converted. And then customers, how can we expand those? How can we kind of like basically grow maybe even like churn prevention as well if they know future proofing what's coming?

Arthur Castillo: Okay.

Nick Bennett: Um, so we have that piece. Then we do another series called Eventions, which is all about low intent, medium intent, how do we basically take kind of like that top of funnel-

Arthur Castillo: Yeah.

Nick Bennett: ... and get them to want to raise their hand? So we bring on subject matter experts like yourself, and then we can see, "All right, great, from our ICP and non-ICP, what does that breakdown look like?" And then we grade it on an ABC scale.

Arthur Castillo: Mm-hmm.

Nick Bennett: So for us, if it's an ICP, A and B, those convert at a way higher rating than someone that's like a C non-ICP. So we use kind of like a dual funnel perspective, we don't use MQLs,-

Arthur Castillo: Yeah.

Nick Bennett: ... we just basically say high, medium, or low intent, and then it moves over to an SQL.

Arthur Castillo: This is really fascinating. So, yeah, I think, um, we've had a pretty good idea of this, this event led growth, and combined with event intent, what that could mean. And you've given some amazing use cases, my mind is running of like, yeah, whether customers are attending that, right, and they're prime for maybe an upsell or a cross sell, whatever it is. Um, obviously from net new if they're progressing through and they're engaging. I feel like you're also at the forefront of something that I'm super excited about, I think you inspired me to, to think about more and more, is this idea of creator led growth. So maybe define that for the audience, and then we can jump into what that means.

Nick Bennett: Yes. So, creator led growth to me means, yeah, it's, it's really people first. How can you amplify the people that work for the brand to drive results? So, so many people think of like, "Okay, great, like, you know, it's the company sending emails, it's the company replying to G2 reviews, it's the company putting out an eBook." But what about the authors behind it and the creators within the company? Now, if I drive a million impressions per month of, just from my organic content,-

Arthur Castillo: Yeah.

Nick Bennett: ... think about if you have 20, 30, 40 employees, or even five employees, think about what that paid media value is over what you would actually spend on running paid ads on like LinkedIn or any of these other platforms.

Arthur Castillo: Yeah.

Nick Bennett: Amplify in the way people buy today has changed, we all know that, it's like, you know, I'm gonna want to buy Chili Piper or renew with Chili Piper because of Arthur and everyone else that works there. Ultimately, yeah, I mean, yeah, the brand is cool, but I have built relationships with you.

Arthur Castillo: Yeah.

Nick Bennett: If you were to leave, I'm probably wanna go look at whatever company you go to, ultimately, and that's where relationships come in and creators are bringing that next wave, where it's not just, you're not an order taker anymore, you're not just doing deliverables for a brand, you're going a little bit further and you're integrating it into the larger marketing strategy.

Arthur Castillo: I feel like you're a great example of this, of how you even actioned it the first week of Airmeet, right, where it's like there is this hype of, "Where's Nick's g-, where's Nick going to? By the way, I'm gonna announce it, and oh, the first week I'm there, I'm gonna hop on with Mark to talk about both these ideas of event and creator led growth," and what a great way, a campaign of getting your following of, I don't know, 30, 40 thousand now [inaudible 00:07:42]-

Nick Bennett: Almost 50.

Arthur Castillo: Hey, that's amazing. Of getting them and taking them on the journey with you. Now, I'm guessing, so much more people are, are aware of what Airmeet does, and now it's on our radar. Um, is there any like stats that you can share from that first week of like, did you see a huge jump in organic traffic? What's, what's going on there?

Nick Bennett: Yeah, so we actually, in that first week, we saw 800 new followers to our LinkedIn company page, actually.

Arthur Castillo: Huge. Huge.

Nick Bennett: So, we, we saw leads coming through LinkedIn company page that never happened before.

Arthur Castillo: Wow.

Nick Bennett: We saw our engagement rate skyrocket. That first event that Mark and I did, we actually had someone convert an 18 thousand dollar deal that closed, that came from that specific event.

Arthur Castillo: Oh yeah.

Nick Bennett: And again, using self reported attribution, we're seeing that like between-

Arthur Castillo: Mm-hmm.

Nick Bennett: ... Mark and myself, like our name shows up on these self reported attribution forms. Like I've been there seven weeks, I've probably seen my name about 14, 15 times already.

Arthur Castillo: Wow.

Nick Bennett: And, I mean, for us, our goal is to double down in North America, in Canada. And like, we wanna grow-

Arthur Castillo: Yeah.

Nick Bennett: ... and we wanna grow the awareness.

Arthur Castillo: One for, for the audience that maybe isn't familiar with self reported attribution, can you explain that?

Nick Bennett: Yeah, so when you go to request a demo or anything, there's a form that says, "How did you hear about us?" Make that an open text field.

Arthur Castillo: Yep.

Nick Bennett: Do not put a dropdown, because as marketers, you know, we're gonna click that first thing.

Arthur Castillo: Yeah.

Nick Bennett: But you'll make... You have to make it a required question. So again, we [inaudible 00:09:04] so many insights. "I saw you at this event with Arthur, then I listened to this podcast, then I attended this event." Great, now you know on- the journey that they went on to get there,-

Arthur Castillo: Yeah.

Nick Bennett: ... and you can double down on what channels are actually working.

Arthur Castillo: I wanna go back to what you said about creator led growth, and you said for them to drive results. Now, I know that can mean a bunch of different things, right, and, and each campaign can have different purposes, but maybe this is how you're thinking about creator led studios, maybe this is just an example, but let's say you do work with a creator, what results can you... are you hoping that they produce, that you can kind of expect? Is it more just that top of funnel awareness? Is it a little further down funnel? Talk to me about how you're driving results.

Nick Bennett: So, I think you need to think of the outcomes first, what do you actually wanna achieve with this?

Arthur Castillo: Yeah.

Nick Bennett: Is it DL acceleration? Is it top of funnel? Is it, you know, churn prevention, anything like that? For us, we want to, I like to think of it like as an art studio, so like you think of an art studio, and the artists go to an art studio to collaborate, and then you take your art that you create and you go on the road to art shows. So we want to be the place where people go to collaborate, and then they go and they distribute that on the channels. Now, the way that we benefit is referrals. So, you know, they're gonna be driving referrals to us, we get the brand awareness piece of it 'cause we're gonna be producing a lot of the content, so like our brand will go everywhere, they'll give us shout-outs on LinkedIn,-

Arthur Castillo: Yeah.

Nick Bennett: ... other social media channels. But ultimately, we wanna give them a starting point for where, like, say, "Hey, I started at Airmeet, they gave me the chance, and then I went onto be a keynote speaker," or something like that. And so we're putting them through a very intense creator training that we're partnering with someone on. And so like they go through one-on-one style and cohort style training to be a [inaudible 00:10:49] creator.

Arthur Castillo: So you're almost like creating this, I think it makes so much sense too, because obviously you're using your platform, right, to, to showcase all of these events. So on one side, there's the, the entertaining concept, right, of like, "Hey, maybe I follow this creator, they're now creating a show on, through Airmeet," getting to experience the, the platform itself. Is it just exposing them to the event platform enough to get them to say, "Hey, I actually wanna do this myself with Airmeet,", or?

Nick Bennett: It's, yeah, I mean, honestly, the best demo that you can give is getting someone to experience the platform.

Arthur Castillo: Yeah.

Nick Bennett: So ultimately, like content that we're gonna create has nothing to do with Airmeet, funny enough, so it's like a sub brand of it, but like-

Arthur Castillo: Yeah.

Nick Bennett: ... we want to be the place that will just like give them the resources. So this isn't gonna be someone from, you know, 50, 60, 100 thousand followers, this is for like five thousand to like 25 thousand followers on LinkedIn, like the sweet spot.

Arthur Castillo: Mm-hmm.

Nick Bennett: And if you create content but you don't have the resources or a nice studio like this, or like whatever,-

Arthur Castillo: Yeah.

Nick Bennett: ... we're gonna give you those resources free of charge, plus we're gonna give you a referral kickback on close one deals.

Arthur Castillo: Mm.

Nick Bennett: That's how we win. We're gonna pay you monthly on top of that, and we're gonna pay for your membership into this creator, um, we're calling it a creator kitchen, and so you're gonna go and learn to be a better creator, 'cause you're still early on in your career, but we wanna be that launching point that takes you to like, basically stardom.

Arthur Castillo: This is, uh, this is getting me excited about, um, what you guys are building here. Okay, let's, let's dive into, um, your bread and butter. And, uh, someone that I, I've looked up to quite a big, and f- probably why I started out in field marketing, um, these field marketing events. And I think when we look at it even from a perspective of where we're at today, right, and people are slashing budgets, maybe they, they don't want to or they can't afford to get a booth, but you just talked about something that's very interesting there, which is it's tough to replace the face to face relationship, right, and even something as, as innocent as a selfie, that goes a long way. And I've always even advocated for our sales team to be like, "Hey, if you can, like grab a selfie, because that's such a good follow-up of like, 'Hey, it was great meeting you,' sending that selfie." So, going back to the question of like, how should companies maybe look at their field marketing investments, I think you just laid out a really interesting playbook of s- you're not necessarily in sales, but you're driving revenue, right, and you're, you're getting the chance to meet face to face with your ICP, how are you, if someone were to come to you and say, "Nick, how [inaudible 00:13:23] my field marketing budget or my strategy?", what would you kinda recommend?

Nick Bennett: I mean, I would say, and people might not like me for this because I-

Arthur Castillo: Sure.

Nick Bennett: ... know we've talked about this.

Arthur Castillo: [laughs]

Nick Bennett: But like I still think trade shows booths are work, uh, worthless.

Arthur Castillo: Yeah.

Nick Bennett: But if that's your only plan, because if you go-

Arthur Castillo: Yeah.

Nick Bennett: ... to BB, B2BMX and like you walk by those aisles, no one [inaudible 00:13:42] you in, no one's doing these [inaudible 00:13:44] that are like, "Oh, cool, I wanna go talk to you."

Arthur Castillo: Yeah.

Nick Bennett: They're sitting at a table, they're scanning you, and then they're gonna send an email to you after and they're gonna keep on sending you emails in a sequence that you'll never reply to.

Arthur Castillo: Sure.

Nick Bennett: But, if you create content at the event,-

Arthur Castillo: Mm-hmm.

Nick Bennett: ... and you tie it back to your top line digital strategy and say you're running paid ads to specific accounts, or you're using intent or whatever to drive specific messages, or you're using people that, again, people recognize from social media, and you say, "Hey, [inaudible 00:14:12] seeing you, like let's follow up on... connect you with someone from the sales team." It's a great way to [inaudible 00:14:18] people out there, but I think for me, trade shows are over priced. I would much rather do a micro event, and I think in 2023, micro events are kind of the way.

Arthur Castillo: Anything else that maybe I didn't ask you that you wanna leave the audience with?

Nick Bennett: No, I think it's just, I, I think it's just invert your mindset. So many times we think it's the brand telling the creator what to do,-

Arthur Castillo: Mm.

Nick Bennett: ... but the creator should be powered to tell the brand what they wanna do. And I think events is similar, like brands have always said, "I'm gonna put on events with like that brand mindset."

Arthur Castillo: Yeah.

Nick Bennett: But why not envision an attendee first experience?

Arthur Castillo: Mm-hmm.

Nick Bennett: And so I think you can do it in a great way that [inaudible 00:14:58] your integrated strategy, so events just aren't siloed from everything else in marketing that you're doing, it's a bigger piece of the strategy.

Arthur Castillo: I love it. Nick, such a pleasure, man.

Nick Bennett: Yes.

Arthur Castillo: Always, uh, always love shooting content with you. Glad to have you here.

Nick Bennett: Thanks for having me.

Arthur Castillo
Nick Bennett
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