Ahisha Stewart is Ontra’s global event marketing manager, a role she stepped into on the heels of winning awards for her event marketing at Tinuiti.
Global event marketing can stretch a person on the best of days, never mind in the midst of a pandemic that saw in-person events canceled or greatly scaled back. Not one to shy away from a challenge, Ahisha jumped right in and quickly drove success in this critical area of Ontra’s business.
Congratulations on your one-year anniversary at Ontra! What’s your proudest achievement at Ontra to date?
I’m proud that our lean team is growing the events program to keep pace with Ontra’s fast-paced growth. In 2021, we participated in or held 21 events. We’re on track to more than double our 2021 participation: we’ve completed 26 events so far, with 29 more on the 2022 calendar.
But I’m not just thrilled about scaling the program. It’s important that our global events align with the company’s initiatives and success. Effectively scaling the program means events are helping generate pipeline and close deals.
A number of factors have contributed to our success in this area, including the revival of in-person events. Virtual events will always have their place – and are great for increasing accessibility and inclusivity – but there’s nothing like an in-person conference.
Another big contributor to success is our stellar global sales team. Event marketing sets everything in motion, but it’s a team effort to drive results and turn conversations into meetings. Our BDA organization does pre- and post-event outreach and our sales directors and BDA reps are on the ground at events, both of which help drive measurable results.
To drive even more success, we’re piloting a field event marketing program across multiple regional events of various sizes and scopes. The goal is to allow our customers and prospects the opportunity to get to know our team in an intimate and relaxed environment while providing the opportunity to network with each other.
How does the concept of community come to play around event marketing?
With our events, we’re building community for our customers, prospects, and legal partners, creating a space for them to network with and learn from each other. It’s one reason we’re heavily investing in our field event pilot – we believe it will help us further tie networking and community into our events.
Events are tactile, fully immersive experiences. As such, they provide unique opportunities to subtly inject brand. For example, we can host prospects and customers for a dinner where the menu is written in Ontra’s standard fonts and Ontra’s brand colors feature in the table’s floral arrangements. These are just two small examples of how brand can shape an event experience.
We want the prospects and customers we invite to these high-touch, bespoke experiences to leave feeling the “warm and fuzzies” about Ontra. Then, once they’re talking to sales and making their final decision, they’ll see Ontra as a partner and not just a service provider.
What advice can you share with Ontra new hires and people looking to join the company?
Many feel the pressure to be a professional caricature of themselves. Instead, it’s important to be your authentic self.
Ontra is a great place to do just that. Company culture can quickly go by the wayside with rapid growth, but Ontra’s leadership has made it a priority to build and maintain a culture where everyone feels welcome and empowered. In fact, one of my favorite things about Ontra is that everyone is authentically themselves.
A terrific opportunity to practice being your true you is participating in what we call “Donuts” at Ontra. You’re introduced to another employee and encouraged to spend 30 minutes getting to know one another. Take advantage of this opportunity! It’s a low-pressure way to meet fellow employees.
You like to discover new places in your spare time. What memorable place have you recently discovered?
I love to travel and it’s a wonderful benefit of my job as global event marketing manager. Recently, I stayed in Berlin for a conference. The on-site team shared some fantastic meals, including one at Grace, where I had one of the best meals during my stay in the city (I recommend the mini tacos!). I also spent a few days in the city and loved experiencing the history and culture…especially the coffee culture. One day while I was wandering, I stumbled upon a great coffee shop in the Charlottenberg district that served the most amazing chai latte.