Proving the value of the events channel through virtual ideation
increase in registrations
increase in lead generation
new deals closed
Gerber Technology delivers integrated software and hardware solutions to customers in the aerospace, furniture, fashion & apparel, transportation, technical textiles and sign & graphics industries. They serve over 100 Fortune 500 companies in 134 countries. Gerber’s events program is heavily focused on industry trade shows as well as hosted events like their annual user conference, ideation.
At the onset of the global health crisis, all trade shows and events effectively stopped. With this key channel for lead generation heavily affected, Aimee Heuschkel, Director of Marketing Creative Services, knew Gerber needed to pivot their planned hosted events to virtual to help maintain their sales pipeline.
Their user conference, ideation, is designed to showcase Gerber’s products and technology while providing training across various solutions. At the same time, Gerber’s marketing team wanted to highlight relevant company initiatives for the market, like their shift to PPE production at the start of COVID-19. “As a leader in this industry, we usually put on this event in-person for about 300 people,” explains Aimee. “They participate in sessions to learn what’s coming from Gerber and enjoy hands-on experience with our software. It’s where we would launch our latest and greatest innovations and demonstrate that to our customer base.” The week-long event has been an industry staple in some capacity for more than a decade.
Though Gerber managed a number of Zoom-enabled webinars during the first months of the pandemic, Aimee’s team knew they needed a cohesive platform experience to support their ambitious conference goals. They decided to ultimately leverage the all-in-one Cvent Attendee Hub® for ideation 2020 in November.
Powering ideation 2020 with Cvent
The initial kickoff in September meant lead time for the event was just a matter of weeks. As this was Gerber’s biggest product marketing event, the marketing team saw value in the technology investment from a user experience standpoint. “We had disconnected experiences with Zoom, with multiple links being sent out individually to attendees and the like,” explains Aimee. “We wanted a truly connected experience for our attendees through the virtual platform.”
Her team’s goals were to further drive lead generation through a virtual environment and prove the value of the events as a key channel for maintaining an active sales pipeline. As the event is largely run by her department, the expectations were high. “This is usually the biggest marketing event our department takes on,” Aimee notes.
To execute the event in such a short timeline, Aimee’s team needed a dedicated technology partner with always-on support. They partnered with Cvent’s Virtual Event 360 professional services team for full support from the initial kickoff to final post-event reporting. The dedicated Cvent team helped set up and configure the virtual event, including managing session creation. They also supported Gerber’s team through video management, sponsor and exhibitor management, moderator training, and reporting.
Expanding Gerber’s Marketing Reach through the Virtual Environment
Aimee notes ideation is usually a live in-person event held in North America. As such, this can affect audience makeup. “This typically limits the number of people who can attend, and we usually did 99% of our sessions in English, even though we’re a global company,” she explains. In 2020, her team was able to take ideation truly global for the first time thanks to the capabilities of virtual events. They were also able to grow the conference focus from one industry (fashion) to include other major industries like furniture, transportation, and sign & graphics.
The global nature of the event also allowed the marketing team to target invitees beyond their typical personas. “I think one of the challenges with our in-person event was always the cost to the company to send people and the return on that investment, so most of the people before were users rather than decision makers,” explains Aimee. From a business perspective, the virtual opportunity gave Gerber the means to reach more influential decision makers than ever. Because of this shift in audience makeup, they expanded the conference scope and messaging. “Opening up registration globally for the virtual event made it much less of a user conference and more of a technology conference,” Aimee says.
Importantly, any valuable attendee insights generated from the vastly expanded virtual event flowed seamlessly between the Cvent Event Management system and the Attendee Hub platform. This eliminated the need for dual attendee lists or data synchronization on the backend. It also allowed Aimee’s team to feed attendee data directly into Salesforce for post-event campaigns.