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.
Meagan Dollins is changing the partner marketing game. She is a trailblazer. She started her career as the only female in her group at Charles Schwab to pass the Series 7 exam, leading her to become the only woman on the trading floor. Meagan started working in partner marketing and events by chance, but she is working every day to change the game.
You started your career in finance. How and why did you decide to make the transition to marketing?
I was at Charles Schwab and I randomly met someone who enlightened me all about the tech world in Austin. He mentioned that I would be really good at software sales. So I looked into it. I called my parents, told them I was quitting Charles Schwab and taking an entry-level sales position for an e-commerce company. Coming from finance, I had to figure out how to sell software, and I excelled. I was at the top, winning sales trips, and after a while wanted to get into the enterprise. This put me more into a business development role where I was having higher level conversations with bigger companies.
I ended up at a marketing data management company. This job introduced me to the Marketo world and into partnerships. What is great about small companies is that you get to pave your own way. The guy running partnerships ended up pulling me over to his side to help with channel sales. I feel like I fell into it one day. It is complex and takes a lot to learn. I didn’t realize how much you rely on partners to make your business successful until I was in it every day.
So even though I was partner sales, I began working with my counterpart at our then partner, Marketo. She wanted to run roadshows for Marketo but did not have the bandwidth to support that type of event. So we decided to do a joint marketing event and I was put in charge of planning and I had never in my life planned an event.
So what was your biggest aha moment coming out of your first event?
I felt really good about it! It was a really successful event and looking back, it is probably my favorite one. The event also happened to be in Canada. I learned quickly that you can’t ship things a week before if you want it to make it through customs in time. It was a big learning experience. At one point, I got to sit back and l hear people walk by and talk about the event. They were really happy and complimented the content and the types of people they were able to network with. I walked away feeling like I could do this.
Why are events important for partner marketing?
Magento was built on top of the community. It originated as this open-source platform for people to collaborate with different developers. We fight really hard to make sure, even with an acquisition, that the value of our tech partners and our services partners is constantly communicated upwards and that we are getting real results from it.
The benefits of joint events for all of us is that they give us an opportunity to reach out to our tech partners and get event funding through sponsorships. Our partners also provide an amazingly rich database. When they come on board as a sponsor not only do we have the opportunity to add additional dollars to the event budget, but also provide them with content, emails, social to get in front of their database.
Teaming up with technology partners builds their brand awareness and it also gets them in front of our customers, which might be using different software than their own (or none at all).
What are your biggest lessons learned over your 10-year career?
My transition over to enterprise my biggest learning and my biggest time of growth. Even though I was at a fairly decently sized company, we really were a standalone company within that. We were a company of 30 people and if anything needed to be done, you had to do it yourself. There's nobody else who's going to help you do that. Everybody had their own path. If I wanted to get in contact with the customer and they had a question about the product that I didn't know, I went to the developer who created that featured functionality, figured out how it works and then took it back to the customer. If I wanted a contract drafted, I had to work with legal to draft my contract myself. I'm so grateful for that experience because it really instilled initiative into me.
Can you describe a day-in-the-life for you as a manager of partner marketing?
I am constantly trying to refine this. I'm a person who thrives on a routine which can be really hard to create in this environment. I try my best to set aside time to be more creative, really dig deep. So now, when I come into the office, I do not check my email. Instead, I pick one task that is going to take the biggest chunk of the creative portion of my brain and I knock that out in the morning. So typically for me, that means drafting content for an event or putting together a presentation for a webinar. I am working on things that require me to disconnect.
At the end of the year, whenever it’s time for that evaluation and you’re accountable for the projects you completed, they are not asking you how many e-mails you answer. They are asking you about you and your work. So I focus on putting myself and my programs as my priority.
What do you enjoy doing on with your time off?
I like to get out of the city (Austin) to decompress. I try to get to the water if I can. Anywhere I can paddle board or kayak. I also really love camping.
To learn more about Adobe and Magento partner events visit https://magento.com/events.