The power of events in B2B marketing

This week, we catch up with Anthony Kennada, current Hopin CMO (ex-Gainsight; Front) on the power of events for building brand and generating demand.

Welcome!

It’s been a little while since we’ve had an episode, I know, but this one should more than make up for it.

This week's How the Fxck interview is with the incredible Anthony Kennada, CMO at Hopin.

Anthony was the first marketer and founding CMO at Gainsight, which grew to $100m ARR and sold for over $1bn to Vista in 2020.

At the time of recording this episode, Anthony had just joined Hopin, the explosively fast-growth hybrid events management platform.

(Hopin is the fastest growing SaaS business ever with a valuation of $5.6bn in under 2 years.)

So, safe to say, he knows his stuff and had a ton of tactics to share.

The episode focuses on the demand gen and content tactics that Anthony has used along the way.

In particular, we focus on events.

The Gainsight team is well known for creating the category of customer success, and a big part of that journey was championing the category through events.


You’ll hear the story of how Anthony and his team created a conference of 300 like-minded people and grew it to +6,000 yearly attendees.


"I started breaking it apart and saying, 'what do I love about my career? What do I love about marketing?' And, at the atomic level, I realized it was connection between people, whether digitally or in person, and events are the channel by which that happens. Some of the most inspired work we had at Gainsight was there."

The full 'how to create a category' story is told in even greater detail in book form; Anthony wrote the bible on category creation (Find it on Amazon UK/ Amazon US).

The book is now part of the core reading for marketers, but be warned—creating a category is not for everyone.

We discuss why most startups should not create a category and the difficulties and common mistakes of those who do.

Towards the middle-end of the interview, we dive into Anthony’s first three weeks at Hopin.

We chat about:

  • Why Hopin is not just a natural fit for Anthony, but a brand mission that aligns with his own.
  • What growth strategies are underway already
  • What will be prioritised at Hopin? And how will marketing contribute to Hopin’s continued fast-growth?

If you're looking to kick off or expand your B2B events marketing strategy, this episode is a must-listen.

Enjoy, Ben ☮️

Episode Timestamps

00:00 Brief summary and intro to the podcast.

01:00 Joining Gainsight without a marketing background and advice for new marketers.

3:49  Why it’s beneficial to come into a marketing role from a sales background.

4:22 The biggest lesson in Anthony’s career: follow people in your career that invest in your future.

5:35 Creating a category at Gainsight.

7:32 How Gainsight’s associate conferences contributed to massive business growth.

8:41 How conferences can help build unity for customers.

8:57 How having conferences and gaining revenue from conferences helped move Gainsight to the next stage of growth.

10:35 Can anyone create a category? Should everyone do this?

11:58 Championing your overall content marketing strategy and product to become a part of the solution.

12:23 What valuable content does Gainsight create?

14:42 Do you need to be an authoritative figure in a specific space to run a university course?

15:47 Writing ‘the book’ on the category.

17:57 Reasons why you shouldn’t create a category.

18:55 Why we need to care about brand.

19:48 How Gainsight came up with an influx of creative and original content.

22:27 Creating useful content geared towards customers while simultaneously advertising your services.

23:09 The moment Gainsight realised that their efforts to attract customers were working.

24:09 Why Anthony joined Hopin.

25:05 How events can impact real business outcomes.

27:31 How Hopin achieved insane growth in a short amount of time.

28:30 What has Anthony's priority been since joining the Hopin team?

29:21 Hopin’s transformation into becoming a multi-product company.