Going, Going, And Still Available on Demand – A Look Back at GAIN 2020

Christopher Parente, StoryTech Consulting

It seems incredible that we’ve reached the 2020 holiday season. One of the biggest events in the government marketing world this year was GAIN 2020. Despite all the changes in this tumultuous year, GAIN once again offered tools, insights and inspiration for government marketers to excel in their professions.

2020 was GAIN’s fifth anniversary, and Government Marketing University (GMarkU) founder and CEO Lou Anne Brossman told me the show has grown at about 30% attendance rate year over year. Like every other government marketer this year, GMarkU had to take the GAIN show virtual this year. Lou Anne said keeping the same “feel” of the show for attendees from the standpoint of presenters and training way critical.

They also needed to have a simple, easy-to-use platform. GMarkU worked with ON24 to provide a platform that was intuitive and immediately felt familiar to GAINERs.

The quality of speakers and material offered was outstanding. Here are some of my favorites:A session on marketing lessons learned from combat, given by Tom Deierlein of ThunderCat. Tom talked about how the same kind of clear communication, goal setting and measurement requirements in the field translate to effective government marketing.

Alexis Bonnell’s presentation on innovation in government marketing was very informative. She leveraged her background at USAID and Google to share real world examples on how to build a strong marketing culture and reach the newly remote government audience with relevant marketing messages.

Former government CIO and GMarkU Ambassador Kimberly Hatcher led an excellent learning workshop focused on the need for workplace flexibility driven by the pandemic. She was joined by Mika J. Cross of Veteran Flexjobs.com and Sam Navarro, director of the customer engagement division at GSA. The panel talked about how a hybrid model of remote and office work will be the norm in the future and how leadership needs to develop “soft” skills and emotional intelligence to drive high productivity.

GAIN 2020 received a lot of accolades from attendees and sponsors. They shared with me the following quotes:

“Energized after just the first day of GAIN 2020! Our team all attended, and it has spurred lots of great conversations already. Great speakers and really relevant content”.
– Christina Westover, Marketing Manager, Octo

“Great GAIN 2020 sessions! I’m enjoying learning and collaborating with the government community.”
– Jackie Flynn, Director, Industry Marketing, Public Sector, Pegasystems

As a long time repeat sponsor, GAIN provides an excellent forum to learn the latest topics around what is keeping marketers up and night. GAIN has proved to be force multiplier for potential sponsor acquisition and engagement and has proven to be great investment for us.”
– Eric Pesachowitz, GovLoop

Carahsoft was thrilled to be a sponsor of Government Marketing University’s GAIN 2020 Conference, the largest gathering of government marketers! Sponsoring this event allowed our team to hear from other marketing professionals, learn from their experiences, and innovate for the future. We’re already looking forward to the 2021 event and hopefully seeing everyone in person!”
– Molly Tomevi, Director of Marketing, Carahsoft

Watching the presentations I was struck by the rapid pace of technological change in marketing. Like leaders in many industries today, marketing leaders need to understand a broader range of platforms enabling contact with customers and prospects than in the past. One example is all the various technology pieces that power an effective ABM strategy and execution.

At the same time, many of the skills necessary to succeed in the competitive B2G market space have not changed. A marketing leader must still integrate marketing efforts into the sales process, clearly demonstrating how marketing is shortening the sales funnel. He or she must ensure that senior leaders understand the role marketing plays, and set an example for their marketing team. A good marketing leader needs to provide the vision and the tools so staff can be successful and continually develop their skill sets.

Lou Anne and team told me they’ve got a big 2021 planned. They will be launching many new training courses early in the year via an enhanced GMarkU Subscription based model. This will allow a broader reach of knowledge to those that want to expand their awareness and grow their careers.

With a vaccine still many months off GMarkU will continue to offer many innovative virtual events in 2021. They continue to build strong partnerships within the vendor community as well as companies that are focused on helping government marketers in their marketing initiatives.

So let’s all enjoy the holiday season and get ready for an exciting 2021. We deserve it after a tough and strange 2020!