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Stephanie Baiocchi

Director of Membership & Events

IMPACT

Stephanie explains the successful, albeit chaotic, three week process of changing her annual in-person conference into a virtual event in March of 2020.

Well, hi, I'm Stephanie Baiocchi. I'm the Director of Membership and Events at IMPACT, but I've been working in events and community for a decade now. I started in college campus activities and booking bands and comedians, and I just love bringing people together for experiences, so that kind of translated to marketing and communication through promoting the events, and then wound me all the way back up at planning an in-person conference.

 

Moving you in-person events to virtual at the drop of a hat

So IMPACT is based in New Haven, Connecticut, but we have over 50% remote team because we just want the best people all over wherever they are. We have people in Ireland, Portugal. We've got an amazing team.And we all come together to help businesses thrive with this concept called,"They ask, you answer", And we wanna help businesses all over the world. It's really just a specific way of doing inbound marketing. I've been using HubSpot for, oh my gosh, nine years now, and HubSpot really started this inbound movement. 

And so we have taken it, what we like to think, a step further in helping businesses really succeed with it. And IMPACT started as just an agency, but now we have all these ways that we're empowering marketers, sales professionals, business leaders, through our online academy and community called IMPACT Plus.

Our event strategy was originally to have this big in-person conference, we called it IMPACT Live. Did it for a couple of years, brought everyone together, talked about all things They Ask, You Answer, and shared stories of people having success with implementing these principles.And then COVID happened, and it was on about St Patrick's Day, March 17th, that the State of Connecticut determined we couldn't have our event, which was April6th. So we had a couple of weeks, about three weeks, to fully pivot our in-person event into a virtual event, and we just went from 1000 people to 3000on our virtual event, which was awesome.

 

The success and accessibility of virtual events

And it was such a success, albeit frantic, that we said, "Let's do it 10 more times." So we did a whole series of virtual events all through the... Through the last 18 months. They've ranged in topics and sizes, but we had so much fun figuring out the best way to do things. And then we said, "You know what? It's time. We're gonna bring back that in-person conference." It was actually supposed to be today, inOctober. And then COVID had other thoughts, so we said, "Alright, what is the absolute best thing we can do for our community and our members?" AndI'm so excited, because it's kind of like what you're doing here. The best thing we can do is have an event that's gonna be small and safe and bring people together in a really memorable and exciting way, record it, edit it, make it look really nice and enjoyable to watch online, and then have that online community have a shared experience as well.

I love bringing people together around this concept of inbound, because Inbound, the event put on by HubSpot every year, has 25,000 people, or did when it was in person. It has more being an online audience. Globally, it's more accessible. There's probably 70,000-80,000 people even just attending the event. But not everyone who does inbound and follows those baseline principles of blogging and content is successful with it. People struggle, and they are like, "I thought this would work. This is this new way of doing things, and it's not working for me. The content's not getting found. We're not getting the buyers that we thought." And so, this guy, a friend of mine, a mentor of mine, Marcus Sheridan, wrote a book called"They Ask, You Answer", and that is all about these 10 core concepts of how to really do inbound the right way.

 

Inbound marketing and “They Ask, You Answer”.

So one of his philosophies that I just love, it hooked me years ago, so the most important customer to the marketing team is the sales team. My sales team is my customer every time. And if I can help them make their sales process more efficient by answering the questions their buyers always have and getting ahead of those questions by giving them content that answers it that they can share, they can have more productive sales calls, they can weed out people faster. And in the meantime, that content you create that answers those important questions is being found by search engines. It's the questions people are looking for when they wanna make a purchase. And so Marcus did this amazing thing, he figured out these five topics. He calls them the BigFive, and they're the topics that people are always searching for when they wanna make a purchase decision. So he had a swimming pool company, and I love his example of people used to write top 10 games you can play in your swimming pool. And that's great, but anyone looking to buy a pool, get a inflatable pool, go to the public pool, might be looking for that. They're not all looking for his specific type of in-ground fiberglass pool.

So he found out these topics that people are looking for when they wanna make a purchase, like the best of these things, the most common problems with these things. And if you can get specific and write that content, which is the things people are usually most afraid to write about, or they're the most challenging, but if you can do it, you'll get that customer every time.

So the thing I'm most excited about now isThey Ask, You Answer started as Marcus' philosophy, became a book, he wrote a second edition of it, and it has an audio book, but there's never really been away to learn it in kind of an academy setting. And so with IMPACT Plus we've created these videos where people can come and learn all the different concepts of They Ask, You Answer from video production to how to be a successful content manager, and I get to bring together this community of people all doing this and share their stories and their successes and help them grow.