Blog Post

Finding My North Star During the Pandemic

May Martin
April 15, 2021
Illustration of a star

If last year taught me anything, it’s that change is inevitable.

I’ve been an Event Producer for most of my career having worked on the client and agency side. I knew from the very beginning that this was my true calling and I couldn't wait to jump in. Picture this, it’s 2018 and I just settled into a position back on the client-side at Gainsight running their Corporate Events team. Fast forward to early 2020, the pandemic hit hard and fast and my team was being dismantled. In-person events were being canceled and everyone was making the pivot to virtual events. Resources for event professionals during the beginning of the pandemic were very limited, and I relied heavily on the event industry community to provide guidance.

Nine months into the pandemic, I knew that things would never go back to normal (whatever that meant). In my gut, I knew that in order to thrive and survive I would need to keep an open mind.

I take pride in creating and building on existing processes, having a method for how events are executed, and always being prepared for the worst. When COVID began to change everything and we needed to pivot to a virtual event, I can honestly say that I hadn’t prepared for something as devastating as this. I had less than 60 days to take our in-person event and turn it into an impactful virtual event.

Our primary goals were to make sure that content was digestible and that attendees found a meaningful way to connect. After all, that was one of the many reasons they traveled to our in-person event, so we knew we had a lot of work to get done. Within a week's time, we demoed over a dozen platforms and began to dissect which would be the right fit to bring our vision to life, while considering the goals of our internal stakeholders and the pandemic’s impact on the customer success community.

Finding My North Star

My initial reaction was to find a virtual platform (and fast) but what I hadn’t considered was that what we were trying to accomplish could be delivered by a different type of product altogether. Most people in the SaaS world lump these types of solutions under the umbrella term of LMS, but what we found was so much more. I learned a lot during a short time.

Most notably that not all platforms are created equal and that there was a proven way to deliver content and more effectively educate our customers and prospects. Once that lightbulb lit up, it was easy to determine who could best partner with us on this new adventure. Intellum wasn’t just another vendor we were using to execute, they became my partner, a team that I relied heavily on to turn my visions into a reality. They were collaborators that were just as invested in making our first virtual event a success. 

The data collected after our event was astronomical, and the key takeaways as an event producer proved to be invaluable. By combining the Intellum platform and methodology, with the processes I already had in place, my thought process on how to proceed with virtual events transformed. Most of my career has been focused on production and the customer experience.

Gainsight taught me the importance of customer success, and Intellum taught me the importance of customer education. Equipped with this new knowledge, I was eager to share it. After the event I recall fielding dozens of calls, writing my first blog post, and having countless opportunities to share what I learned throughout this process. The tremendous and unprecedented success of the event left people hopeful that I could shed some light on what worked and didn’t work for us. Little did I know that the more I shared my experiences, the more the path of my career was shifting again, and this time directly towards Intellum. 

If I have one key takeaway to share with you, it’s the importance of thinking about the big picture. Know your goals and your audience. While we’ve all learned to somewhat adjust by now, we have to continue to constantly evolve. What worked in April 2020 won’t work for the same virtual event in April 2021. Find the platform that has your best interests at heart, will help you succeed, has a proven methodology, and will consider you a partner. Eleven months of this new reality has revealed to me that there is something solid and groundbreaking within the unity of CX + CS + CE.

My new north star is this powerful intersection and the real-world impact it can have on the customer journey.

For more events, or to connect with May Martin, please visit Intellum.

About the Author

May Martin headshot
May Martin
Director of Events
May is the Director of Events at Intellum and serves as the resident expert on virtual/hybrid events and how they fit into the broader customer education strategy.