What do the drummer from Mötley Crüe, first-time skydivers and a B2B enterprise marketing platform have in common? For most people, not a thing. But for Tim Glomb, VP Content & Data at Cheetah Digital, it presented the chance for a major brand pivot.
On this episode of SaaS Half Full, Tim takes us through the transformation of his company’s user conference, Signals, from in-person to online. At a time when thousands of online events have burned out even the most passionate B2B marketers, Cheetah Digital set out to create an unforgettable experience — and turned to, of all places, MTV’s Jackass to get it done.
Go bold with your online event pivot
Like most companies, Cheetah Digital had to make a tough call early on about their user conference. Signals had been an engaging, three-day in-person event in 2019, an option no longer on the table for 2020.
Pivoting to a completely virtual format would’ve ruffled a lot of marketers’ feathers, but Tim believed he and his team had the in-house expertise to do it. When he looked hard at what he wanted Signals to achieve, he knew a truly successful event required something special to stand out from the “B2Boring” pack.
A three-day conference became a nine-week virtual event, sporting speakers from the biggest brands in the country. While that’d be impressive in its own right, Tim recognized he needed a radical promotion approach for his audience to take notice and attend. As a student of B2C marketing, he firmly believes marketing to individuals and building personal relationships makes all the difference. For Signals, that meant finding an atypical influencer to capture individuals’ attention.
“We needed to get somebody completely unexpected — a fish out of water that’s well known, so that we can get a few million impressions,” said Tim. “And the people — not the entities, the people who we’re trying to reach, the directors, managers, decision makers — are going to go, what the F was that? What did I just see in my LinkedIn feed?”
And, thanks to Tim’s background in TV production, including his time with MTV’s Jackass, he knew exactly who to contact. In short order, he had Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee and his wife Brittany Furlan hosting a video discussing Forrester Wave for email marketing platforms.
That wasn’t the only trick up Tim’s sleeve. Cheetah also opened Signals with a video of Tim and his CMO jumping from a plane and landing in a field, empty save for two desks and the computers used to launch the event.
Tim’s goal was to make Signals stand out — and stand out it did. “We knew in the first couple hours of a nine-week session that jumping out of a plane and Tommy Lee and all the things we had up our sleeve yet to come were going to pay off,” he said. “It was at least going to get the conversation started.”
Small steps lead to big success
Tim is glad he works with a team willing to take a wild chance on something like Tommy Lee talking Forrester Wave (and he acknowledges it did take some internal persuasion). But, not every marketer is so fortunate.
That said, more conservative leadership doesn’t mean you can’t follow wild ideas, Tim asserts. While you probably won’t get Tommy Lee right out of the gate, it does open an opportunity to start with something small.
“Start small and track the data,” said Tim. “If you’re going to or attending a virtual event that you’re not hosting, maybe you’re a sponsor or your speaker, maybe try something different: show up on camera a little weird, a little different, and do the metric change. If you have an event that you can do, even if it’s an employee-only event, you’ll start internally but do something different. Get creative.”
Tim encourages B2B marketers to research top-performing B2C brands for fresh ideas and inspiration. Often, B2B gets caught up in trying to market at companies rather than at people, and that difference is what Tim feels contributes not only to Signals’ success but also Cheetah Digital.
“B2C marketing is based on marketing to individuals. We’re taking the same approach at Cheetah Digital to get to the right people, tell the right story and create a relationship, not just showing them a product that might give them a 10% margin lift,” he said.
In the end, some ideas will fail. But, Tim encourages marketers to try anyway. “Everyone has failed. But you can take small steps and get feedback like more high fives from your teams or a couple extra leads.”
For more of Tim’s insights, listen to Episode 301 of SaaS Half Full.