Marketing Gets Real Episode #12: Event Marketing? I Need More Bubbly for This!

Nobody knows how to create buzz around a corporate marketing event like Stefanie Maragna. So, it’s no surprise to learn that she’s a beekeeper. Honest!

An Australian-born event marketer, Stefanie lives on a Sonoma County ranch with her husband, 5-year-old son, Australian Cattle Dog, Cody, a few chickens, and thousands of bees. She’s also the VP of Corporate Marketing and Events for Sage Intacct, an Advisory Board member for the Corporate Events Marketing Association… and she’s one cool character.

That’s a good thing because it takes lots of inner peace to make it in the zany world of event marketing, where things constantly veer off-script without warning. In our Season 1 Finale of the Marketing Gets Real podcast, Stefanie brought her own bubbly and spilled plenty of tales of events almost gone bad to our hosts, Cari Baldwin and Dana Harder.

“What they don’t understand is what went on behind the scenes when you spend the last 45 minutes trying to keep it all together.”

Stefanie always chuckles when an executive walks up to her after Day 1 of a conference and says, “Well, that went well.” That’s because she knows that what looks like a seamless production on stage is sometimes quite a bit different off stage.

For example, on the morning of one major event, Stefanie had a most unpleasant experience. She developed a dreadful case of morning sickness. “Every 15 minutes, I was running out like I had to go to the green room with a bin and just throw up,” she says. What’s more: Nobody knew she was pregnant. Even so, as always, Stefanie somehow found a way to keep it together, thanks in part to her long-time event production guy, who helped make sure the keynote speech went on without a hitch.

“We can’t find the bean bags. We lost the truckload!”

A few years back, Stefanie had found the perfect giveaway for her event. She ordered bean bag chairs with her company’s logo (she was with Host Analytics at the time). The idea was to use the bean bags on the event floor and then give them to guests as a parting gift.

The only problem: The delivery company lost the entire shipment! There was no time for a re-order. What did she do? “We went to Ikea or somewhere like that, bought a whole bunch of bean bags and slapped a sticker on them, and that served the purpose,” she says. As for whatever happened to that lost shipment, “Somebody in the U.S.A. right now has a truckload of Host Analytics branded bean bags in their home theater,” she says.

But that’s not all. Stefanie also shared another oh-shit event story, this one involving a CEO and a wardrobe malfunction. We’ll let Stefanie explain it:

“Actions shout, words whisper.”

We’ve asked every guest this season to tell us the advice they’d give their 20-year-old selves. Stephanie gave us one of the best answers yet. “You don’t need a title to be a leader,” she says. “You just gotta want it!”

Stefanie has plenty of other inspirational advice and jaw-dropping stories, from the time the lights went out at an event in Dallas to the time she had to redo all of her conference signage at the very last minute. You can hear it all in Episode #12.

That’s a wrap on Season 1. But Season 2 is coming! There’s only one way to know when it will start: Subscribe now and get notified on your favorite podcast app!