How Attending an Event Improves Your Marketing Team’s Efforts

Planning, promoting and executing a comprehensive integrated marketing program for a conference and career fair for over 14,000 women engineers is no easy task. DJG was happy to help again this year with conference marketing for our client the Society of Women Engineers and their conference, WE19. Recorded live at WE19 DJG’s managing director, Ron Zywicki and digital media and content manager, Bridget Tully, discuss these marketing efforts.
Posted: 4 years ago

Ron Zywicki: This is Ron Zywicki of the David James Group and I am here live at WE19. Our client, the Society of Women Engineers, annual conference in beautiful Anaheim, California where it’s warm and sunny, as opposed to back home in Chicago where our colleagues are freezing their butts off. Today I am joined by Bridget Tully, who is our manager of digital media and content, and this is Bridget’s first WE19. Welcome, Bridget.

Bridget Tully: Thanks for having me, Ron.

Ron Zywicki: Oh, it’s my pleasure. So Bridget, as I said, we are here at WE19, this conference with over 16,000 women in engineering and technology. This is Bridget’s first time at the event, as I mentioned. Bridget, what have you been doing here primarily, what was your role?

Bridget Tully: So although I usually manage the content for SWE mostly on their blog All Together, I have actually been helping out with social media this weekend as our social media manager has been pretty tied up with video work and video editing. So I have just been walking all over this massive convention center and trying to kind of capture the spirit and energy of the conference and what’s going on here. I mean it’s massive and there’s the biggest career fair I’ve ever seen. And you hear all about the 40,000 members of SWE, but to actually, and not that all 40,000 are here, but to see this many SWE members in one place, it’s pretty mind-blowing. So just trying to keep my energy up and keep moving and get as much as I can and engage with people as much as I can.

Ron Zywicki: So, when we do the marketing, we use themes like inspire and help people learn to lead and find their authentic selves. Those are marketing things that we use to promote the client. And it’s rooted in truth, it’s rooted in who they are. But for you to sort of really experience what you’ve been writing about, what the agency writes about in real life, what’s that like for you?

Bridget Tully: So again, it’s kind of just seeing all of this come to life. We’ve been behind the marketing efforts and I know a lot of DJG staff have been to these conferences before. So you guys already know what goes on behind the scenes at these things. But for me as a newbie to DJG or relative newbie, you know, I’ve been behind these marketing efforts and all of these emails that have gone out about the conference and these pushes to get people to sign up. And sometimes it feels just very marketing heavy, but then, but then when you’re here and you see. Now I guess I truly believe in all the messaging that comes out and how life-changing this event could probably be for so many people. And the career fair, all the enthusiasm, and energy in the career fair and you’re seeing people interviewing young college students that are interviewing on-site for these jobs and this is their future that’s happening here at this event.

So it’s kind of like these aspirational marketing terms, they’re not just marketing terms, they’re actually a reality here and they’re things that are really happening for the attendees, and kind of life-changing. So it’s just really cool to see that sort of stuff come to life here.

Ron Zywicki: That’s cool. And this is my, I can’t even remember, twelfth or thirteenth conference, a lot of conferences, and every time I come it’s still cool to see and it’s fun to see the attendees, it’s fun to see the work that we’ve done from a brand standpoint come to life through the signage.

Bridget Tully: Yes, the signage everywhere. Oh my gosh, it looks amazing.

Ron Zywicki: Did you see the walkway, we’ve got little flag signs.Image Websize

Bridget Tully: Yes, it’s huge they’re every, I mean banner, this massive, this convention center is way more massive than I could have imagined and there’s signage everywhere.

Ron Zywicki: Everywhere.

Bridget Tully: Banners, these huge, huge banners hanging all over the place. So it’s just so cool. You know, our relatively small team of designers, the stuff that they’ve put together and to actually see it everywhere, plastered everywhere. It’s so cool.

Ron Zywicki: Yeah, it’s fun. I had a fun story today. So we, to promote our conference for the Society of Women Engineers, their conference, we do an onsite model shoot. So we have the theme for the following year already ready to go. We know what we’re going to be doing for the next year. So while we’re here, we do the model shoot and we have women who are members of SWE. They come in and we shoot 8:00 to 10:00, it’s always a fun thing. Today, one of the models from last year, who was in this year’s campaign, so she’s in the signage right now here in Anaheim, she reached out to us and said, “Hey, can I get one of the banners that have my photo on it?” And we’re like, “Sure.”

Bridget Tully: Oh, that’s awesome. Yeah.

Ron Zywicki: You do a lot of work for SWE, as our client SWE, but you also work for other clients. Is there something, what kinds of things can you take away from this to inform you as you’re working on other clients or working on things?

Bridget Tully: So as you just said, the bulk of my work so far has been for the Society of Women Engineers, but I know that we are working on some other big events for other clients. If I have the opportunity to get involved in those marketing efforts and work on those more, I think just having a better grasp of association events or Society events.

Ron Zywicki: So has there been something here that just, kind of surprising to you, or something that was like, “Wow, that was just not something I expected?”

Bridget Tully: Gosh, the excitement. It’s just, I know this sounds cliche, but it really is, it’s contagious. I was, you know, they have this massive elevator, or, I’m sorry, escalator here and just passing, going the other way from all these guests. And they were just all like smiling and happy and talking and animated and it’s not, yes, there’s a huge career fair and a lot of people are coming here for jobs, but people are genuinely really excited to be here.

Being at the keynote sessions the last few mornings, the audience is just so engaged and they’re clapping and they’re cheering. And it’s not just these heavy informational sessions. There are some heavy informational sessions that are going on for people to really, really learn and get some professional development here. But overall, there’s just like this really contagious enthusiasm and happiness. And you can tell that people are just really excited to not only be here but like feedback with these people that they’ve grown these connections with over the years. So it’s just, it’s cool. A lot of people have the concept of engineering and STEM being sort of like this dry field and it’s just, to see so many young passionate people who are just so excited to be here. And older, passionate people who are excited to be here, who some, some of which are retired and still just really passionate about what this conference is and what the society does. It’s just cool. It’s contagious in a good way.

Ron Zywicki: So I know one of the things you did with Maxie, our social media manager, and also she does a lot of our video work, you guys were doing woman on the street interviews today, walking around and just reaching out, interviewing attendees.

Bridget Tully: Yes.

Ron Zywicki: Anything cool there? Anything you learned or just take away from that?Djg Crew

Bridget Tully: So we were actually trying to, SWE is coming up on its 70th anniversary next year, so we were trying to capture some people through the decades. So we were trying to find members who have joined throughout. The society was formed in the 50s so we actually did, coincidentally as we were just starting to do this filming today, we saw Pat Brown, who is I believe the society’s oldest member or longest-running member. So it was great to just get a short little interview with her and she’s still coming here, her niece is involved now.

Ron Zywicki: That’s cool.

Bridget Tully: But yeah, it was, we interviewed some career fair exhibitors. So just kind of finding out why they choose to be here and how they’re involved with women in STEM and why, although they’re probably at other conferences, why they choose to be at this conference and why it’s important for them to have a presence at this conference. Just kind of learning about there are so many, so many different companies and disciplines and industries involved in STEM and just seeing that diversity, just even on the career fair floor and there are just a lot of companies that are really passionate also about what the society stands for.

Ron Zywicki: So, what do you think, and from your point of view doing those interviews, how does it help advance the marketing? What do you think that contributes to our marketing efforts, on behalf of SWE, but why is it important to do something like that?

Bridget Tully: Well, I think it’s cool because these were very on the spot interviews so it’s not like we gave people questions in advance for them to really plan out and think about. So it was really neat to get there on the spot, spontaneous answers to these questions. I think we got a lot of very authentic answers, whereas sometimes when we’re preparing too much we overthink things and we try to make things sound nice and in a way, we often lose some of the really valuable insight or true feelings behind something.

So I think it was cool. One of the participants that we were talking to, her eyes started watering up a little bit when she was talking about SWE and how passionate she is about it, and even getting like the younger generation with SWENext involved. So just seeing that, those spontaneous answers and reactions. It’s difficult sometimes to come up with the answers on the spot, but I think, again, you just really get some good true material and that can even inform marketing efforts moving forward. There are some really good gems that can be pulled out of some of those spontaneous answers and responses.

Ron Zywicki: Bridget, you joined the David James Group relatively recently and you did not come from the association world or a marketing firm that worked on associations as the David James Group does. That’s what we do here at DJG. You came out of a large consumer organization, retailer, and a different world. So from your point of view, why do you think it’s important that SWE invested in bringing you on-site to help with their marketing efforts? Why is it good that associations bring an outside voice and bring their marketing professionals, whether they’re in-house or not, to experience something like this?

Bridget Tully: Well, I think people or staff within an association or within a society, not to say that they have one-track minds by any mean, but you do sort of get, you might get caught up a little bit in your own line of work or what your efforts are at promoting and it might be difficult to step back and look at the bigger picture from an outside perspective because you’re so ingrained in what you do and day in and day out, this is your job and this is your industry. And it might be difficult to look at it maybe from an outsider’s perspective or someone who’s new to it.

So I think just having someone there who has a good understanding of the marketing industry and what consumers want to see and want to hear. And sometimes that knowledge really does come from the association that we’re working from. Sometimes that’s incredibly valuable insight to have from the people who are doing this day in and day out. But I think it’s good to also always look at things from the consumer standpoint or the member standpoint and kind of take a step back and look at the bigger picture of how it’s all coming together and fitting together from someone who’s not in the nitty-gritty every day.

Ron Zywicki: Just as we wrap up, and I certainly appreciate your time here. You’ve been on-site how many days?

Bridget Tully: I have, let’s see. Got here Tuesday night and it’s Friday now. So only really two full days, I would say.

Ron Zywicki: What do you looking forward to most?

Bridget Tully: Laying down in my bed tonight. No, this has been a really great, fun experience. I’ve definitely gotten my steps in every day. And I’ve been sleeping really well, so I’m looking forward to rounding out these, this next day. We just have one more day of this and just keeping the momentum going and then enjoying the quiet afterward.

Ron Zywicki: Excellent. Well, speaking of the quiet afterward, let’s wrap this up. Thank you, Bridget, for speaking with me. Again, this has been Ron Zywicki from the David James Group and this is Stir and Tell.

Bridget Tully: Thank you.

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