Sara Lieber is a creative at heart. While studying hospitality management in college, she evaluated pursuing careers in hotels or restaurants. She chose the latter because ambiance, menu, and private dining engagements were areas to riff on, to tap into her artistic side.
Currently, Lieber is the Senior Event Marketing Manager for the conversation-driven live-chat marketing platform Drift. On the surface, it may seem an odd position to land in for someone of her nature.
“If you had asked me when I was in school if I had a desire to go into event marketing, I probably would’ve been like, ‘I have no idea what you’re talking about,'”
she acknowledges. But throughout her career, Lieber has discovered how event marketing—especially in the software space—can offer even more opportunities to get creative than event planning.
After working in the restaurant industry for a few years, Lieber joined the London-based experiential agency emc3 (a company she had interned for while studying abroad in college). At emc3, she gained experience with corporate events. She realized:
“No two tech companies are alike, and at a broad scale, you’re planning a conference, which is to cater to your attendees and make it a fun and memorable experience.”
When Lieber made the leap to corporate events, there was an inevitable “learning curve.” But the transition was eye-opening, tuning her into the fact that strategy necessitates creativity.
“You’re doing events to market your product, so what’s the best way to position it? What is the messaging, and how do you communicate it on the website and elsewhere? There are a lot of factors to consider beyond the event in and of itself,” she says.
By this logic, a company’s offerings are the ultimate source of inspiration. There are an infinite number of ways to cleverly interpret the challenge of marketing a product over the course of an hour-long or multi-day engagement.
The role that branding plays in events is another good example of how constraint can breed creativity.
“Our brand is fun, period,” she says. So when it comes to swag, Lieber believes that apparel, for example, should be “something that people would want to wear on weekends. Not every single item we have is printed with Drift. We want to be the cool tech company that’s not a tech company. So it’s about bringing in subtle, creative ways to have our brand represented”, she elaborates.
Lieber began at Drift while in-person events were still on hiatus in the summer of 2021. Though her schedule as of late is packed with third-party engagements, she’s also preserving time to observe what’s going on in the industry to plan for the future when tentpole events may—or may not—return.
Caveating that it might be a “daring comment,” Lieber opines: “I think in general, expos and larger conferences… they’re just not as popular anymore.” Insightfully, she points out travel as a major blocker. If people are less willing to commute to work, what’s the likelihood they’ll travel hundreds of miles for a conference?
Logistics aside, Lieber believes the time is ripe to spring from the “big box rooms that are usually super frigid, with bright lights.”
“I just think there are more fun and creative ways to have conversations with people,” she says. “And at Drift, we’re all about conversations and meeting buyers on their terms. That’s something we try to focus on when planning events: how can we do this in a way that—in the eyes of our customers—is what they want versus what we think they want?”
Ingenuity lands with a thud without a receptive audience. Lieber’s approach demonstrates how a single person’s singular talent can enrich a brand’s events and marketing for the benefit of customers.