Advance Pipeline with Events
Event Marketing Hero: Cortny Christensen, Sr. Manager Pipeline Marketing, RingCentral
Banzai’s Event Marketing Hero series profiles leaders in the event, demand generation, and field marketing fields who are changing the marketing game through B2B events and webinars.
RingCentral’s Cortny Christensen understands the power of events in influencing and advancing pipeline. Her variety of roles within marketing all lead back to the same idea, relationships matter. Check out Banzai’s latest event marketing profile to learn how Cortny is redefining field and pipeline marketing, her biggest career lessons learned, and the words she lives by.
Can you provide an overview of what it means to be in pipeline marketing?
In the past, your goal was to have your field marketing team do more than just execute events. But then the event game got to the point where the volume was so great and in order to keep up, field marketing managers had to do all the tactics that needed to be done to support an event and make sure that the execution was flawless. Sometimes organizations do not have event people to do things like open POs and find venues and do tactical work and the logistics that go with it. So your team is forced to spend their time there.
At a previous company, someone introduced the Pod model that is built around the idea that everyone is completely in sync and in unison. The pod model allowed us to have someone in marketing that's responsible for understanding how a regional sales team is doing from a pipeline perspective, week over week, quarter over quarter, and year over year. We were able to provide them some dashboards and data so they could hold these calls where they have the regional sales lead and his/her management team. They were also able to include the channel manager for the region, the inside sales manager for the region, and other go-to-market functions that all support building pipeline for this one region.
We implemented this idea and made our field marketers into pod leads or pipeline manager leads. Now we have more than events at our disposal to build that pipeline. As a senior manager of pipeline marketing, I still own the budget for the events and come up with a strategic plan around which events we will invest in and why. But, I also go and spend money with other vehicles that are running concurrently. We might have webinars or content syndication, or digital, but they aren't focused on regions that are focused on the company as a whole. So it’s a mind shift.
How does this shift to work with the rest of your marketing team?
RingCentral may be somewhat unique with this. It is about making sure you have a seat at the table to hear what is going on with product marketing, the themes, programs, and campaigns. We have an account-based marketing (ABM) team that has a one-to-many approach and a one-to-one approach. We work in sync with them to leverage the themes and programs and the assets that come out of them, like e-books, webinars, direct mailers, and email campaigns. We work with them and seek to be an extension of what they are doing by leveraging the assets, the creative, and everything they are working on, and put that into the field with the same messaging.
We basically go to the other marketing teams and ask them to change the way they are doing things. We might go to them and say, “I know you don’t focus on regions, but is there any way I could give you money and ask your vendor to double-down on Texas this month for all the content syndication efforts?” Or, we may ask them to change their content syndication to map to a specific vertical. It can be challenging because you’re asking them to prioritize something that may not be a priority for them. It’s a negotiation, but it needs to come with dollars and the ability to track ROI.
As a senior manager who manages a team of pipeline marketers, what is your day-to-day like?
Every day is different. One day I might join a regional head of sales all-hands, meet with a sales leader, and/or work on our Pod update. I am usually double-booked at least once a day. We do kickoff calls for almost every event that we have. The kickoff call will launch the event, and then we usually have a check-in halfway, and then host a “know before you go” meeting. Each event also has a wrap-up and evaluation call. So that’s four calls per event and we usually do 15-17 events per quarter. Even though I am not the field marketer running the call, I still have a vested interest in our demand generation efforts. Did we get leads? What worked? What didn’t work? Did having a customer present change the ability to drive registrations and leads?
We are huge advocates for event kick-offs, check-ins, and postmortems. Is this something you do for all events or just RingCentral hosted events?
We meet, but we usually don’t have a check-in for third-party events. We are a little more removed from the planning. But, we still view it as a partnership. We work hard not to view them like third party vendors that are going to bring us a ready-made audience even though we are paying some big dollars. We always ask them to give us a unique URL. We also ask them to allow us to give them a target account list that we want them to reach out to.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in your career?
I think the biggest lesson for me was that being a field marketing manager can mean something different at every company. I’ve learned that you have to have a more global approach, solving for more than just your regional events that you’re executing or your team is executing. This will always make you more valuable. So it was kind of a natural progression for me to do more, to be put in charge of tracking pipeline.
What other jobs have you held within the marketing world?
I have been in customer marketing where I ran a reference program. I really enjoyed it because reference selling is everything. I also was a channel manager for a few years. I really believe in the power of working with partners. They can significantly extend your reach in certain segments. I then switched back to field marketing which morphed into a kind of Pod, pipeline role.
What was your favorite/most interesting event that you produced?
One of the most interesting events that I worked on moved the needle from an awareness perspective. We ended up going after a line of business that we did not have a relationship with, but we knew that our message and our company culture would resonate. This audience was not the buyer, but they were key influencers. The goal was to get them to think of our company as a thought leader.
This event was so interesting to me because we were able to parlay our story and offering into a group that we didn’t traditionally have a relationship with. So we talked about our culture and our solution and how it enabled us to be the type of culture that people want to come work for.
What was the ROI of this event?
Our measure of success is always going to be influence or sourced opportunities. We saw over a million dollars of influence with this event. We know this because we have opportunities in play and people within those opportunities attended this event, so they were tagged as an influence. The goal was for this to be an influential event.
Everyone seems to have a favorite ism or saying that guides how they work. What is your favorite?
My favorite new one is, “you see from where you stand.” It encourages empathy. It's so important to realize that everybody has different opinions that matter. Their view is from where they stand. Everyone stands in different places over time and throughout their lives. So the way people see things is going to change and you have to recognize that.
Thank you Cortny!
To learn more about RingCentral’s upcoming events, visit https://www.ringcentral.com/event