The Pixilated Podcast

Ep. 110 | Annemarie Allain | A2Services

March 16, 2021 Patrick Rife | Annemarie Allain Season 1 Episode 110
The Pixilated Podcast
Ep. 110 | Annemarie Allain | A2Services
Show Notes Transcript

Welcome to another episode of the Pixilated Podcast. I’m Patrick Rife and today we’re going to talk with Annemarie Allain from A2 Services.

After 14 years in the live events and trade show industry, Annemarie Allain, CEM, was handed a COVID-19 pink slip. Facing an uncertain events landscape with few jobs available, she decided to reimagine her career and follow her passion for writing. She has re-entered the industry as a copywriter focused on event and trade show communications. With experience as both an event vendor and organizer, Annemarie has been in your shoes! Not only does she speak "events" she can translate the jargon to reach attendees, sponsors, or potential customers.

Website: https://www.a2services.net/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/annemarieallain/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/asquaredservices/


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Patrick Rife:

Hello and welcome to another episode of The Pixilated Podcast. I am your host in the CBO. Here Pixilated Patrick Rife, and today we are going to continue our interview series with, I guess a woman who at this point, I feel like what we can call a colleague and a friend, as well, as an event professional. We're gonna be talking with Emory Elaine from a squared services, she is a copywriter. And for any of you who have been the recipients of downloading our virtual event trends report, you've read her copywriting before. So without further ado, and Murray, welcome to The Pixilated Podcast. Thank you for having me. I'm excited. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. We are, we are incredibly excited to finally have you on I know, I've been talking about getting this interview done for three or four months now. So good to have you in the hot seat. So I've got a lot of questions that I have kind of written down in preparation for this chat. But before we get into that, please, why don't you tell all of our listeners, given the origin story of Ai Squared services? You know, like, how, how you've gotten to where you are today, maybe a little bit of your backstory?

Annemarie Allain:

Sure, absolutely. Well, I have been in the events and tradeshow space for about 14 years. And like so many of us earlier last spring, I got my COVID-19 pink slip. So I wasn't quite sure what I had wanted to do as you virtual events were kind of on the horizon. But I also have pretty, pretty good idea that that wasn't my that wasn't my face, right? That wasn't my jam. So I sat down and just kind of assessed what it is I've done in my career that I was passionate about what I love. And the two things that kind of bubbled to the top were events, and trade shows, but also was writing and copywriting. And it's something I've done pretty extensively throughout my career. But I just thought no, I'm going to take a stab at this, I want to be a writer, I enjoy the texture game of putting together words and helping people craft their message. So I've taken my 14 years of events, industry experience, and turn them to helping whether it be vendors or show organizers or exhibitors crafting a message for a virtual or hybrid space. And then fingers crossed for the person returning in person events to so kind of just put them a two passions together and created my own little space. And

Patrick Rife:

that's awesome. That's awesome. So I mean, I like just right off the jump, like, take me back to, you know, take me back to January or February of last year. Like I think that I think there are so many event professionals that are out there when I go through LinkedIn, and I see everyone with that little green tag underneath their, their profile picture, right, like, there are a lot of available talent that is out there. And there are going to be some really lucky companies that are going to scoop up the talent. And there are going to be some really lucky people who are willing to think progressively about their skills and where they are right now. And actually, I think that there's going to be a ton of people that are going to come up in a far stronger position than they were in because of this because they've gone through it because they've been able to, you know, give themselves a dust off and keep going. So, you know, with that being said, I think that it would just be awesome to kind of, you know, hear how you went through it. Because you've come out on the other side, like taking your skills and saying, you know, I'm gonna make lemonade and, you know, given our conversation prior to hitting record here today, like it's going really well for you. So take us through that.

Annemarie Allain:

Yeah, sure. So, um, I, at this time last year, I was actually in Las Vegas doing a site visit for a major technology company. My last job, my last events job was with a global experiential marketing firm. As a senior event manager there, I worked on the major technology programs. And you know, I enjoyed the job, enjoyed the team, it was a great company, but things kind of started getting cancelled and whatnot, because I was working from there decided to cancel and go virtual. And they just didn't have any word for it. You know, so I had been there less than a year they had recruited me away from my previous employer where I was the show manager and and I get scolded, was notified at the beginning of March that I was going to be unsettling starting April 1 for three months. And I got into the furlough started and quite frankly, as processed before, like a layoff, and I was really upset for about a week of crying. You know, my cards were kind of tell me it's just the reason for long it's going to be fine. You know, my husband was but I was watching you know, what's our industry associations with Being out there and I was listening and watching the projections. And I just in my heart knew I was like, This isn't, I'm not going back to work there. And I'm really glad that that's how I processed it when the layoff call and email came, I really wasn't that devastated, I think I was a little in shock. Like, I've never been laid off from a job, I've never been fired from a job. You know, I've always kind of peaceful transition to the next role. So that that was to me up. But I knew early and so I took the three months that I was furloughed and spent the time to guide through, like I said, what I wanted to do, and were wanted to take myself and, frankly, I've always thought that it would be really fun to be a writer, whether it's content writing, like the report that we attend together, or blogs, or, you know, event, website content and copy. I've always loved doing that. And they said, How always found their way to the top of my to do list, even if they weren't the priority, I would make them a priority, and get the rest of the work done. So, you know, I just I looked at it, that I had this opportunity to start to get to you know, and I didn't want to completely leave the event space. Because, you know, as the family and I have made some amazing contracts over the years and didn't want to completely leave that space, but also knew that that the industry began to revolutionize I needed to. And I accepted that a lot earlier than a lot of my friends and call them former colleagues that I think could not have been held on and some of them are still holding on. You know, and and just thinking it's going to go back to the way it was and it's it's not ever going to go back to the way it was. So, you know, I just I think I started early, you know, I was, since I was furloughed at the very front end of this, you know, a lot earlier than other folks, I had a little bit of a head start a jumpstart, I guess. And that's I think that's where it's gotten to be a good spot. You know, it hasn't even been a year since I started a full services. And yeah, it is going well, it is successful, like I was telling you before, before we jumped on here that, you know, I've been so lucky and grateful that my friends and colleagues in the industry have referred me and had faith in me and had done a cold prospecting to be paid. And so I really enjoyed some success, thanks to the relationships in this market. So, yeah, I mean, that's kind of the kind of the origins.

Patrick Rife:

Yeah, I mean, it's, it's, it's so fascinating, right? Because it really speaks to you know, it speaks to the value of your list, right? Like it speaks. And by the list, I don't mean to be generic about it. I mean, your your list of people that you know, you know, like in, in marketing worlds, like that's, that's generally talking about an opt in list. But, but even that's true, right, and I was mentioning to you taking a lot of stock and, and like using my email whole chimp campaign opens as ways to, to avoid my spirits, right and going in and being like, Oh, wait, like, there are all these people. And some of them we haven't done business with and a half of a decade, and we met them in our first year of business. But they're still educating themselves. They're still following along, and they're still looking for opportunities to stay in touch with us, even if they're not, you know, like waving a big, big flag. And that's interesting, right? It's like it speaks to your center, knowing that if you are, you know, like that, like that's professionalism, right. professionalism is when you do whatever job, you're doing well enough, that someone is willing to hear about you when you're doing a completely different job at a completely different time. Because you've brought something to the table when they worked with you on whatever that they're like, okay, it doesn't matter what Anne Marie is doing, because like, she is a person of credibility. And like, I know that if it's copywriting, or if it's event management, like I trust her because we've done like,

Annemarie Allain:

I've been super lucky. So kind of to add to the backstory. This is not my first career reinvention. My degree is in political science. And just after I graduated college more years ago that I'm going to admit, I moved to Washington, DC and I worked on Capitol Hill, I worked for government agency, and I worked for political consulting firm. And then, after about seven years back east, I woke up one day and so I want to go home and I'm from the west coast. So I packed up and moved back out west and knew I didn't want to be in politics anymore. And I except that I was going to go into sports management and communications. I have a huge passion for college athletics. But I also realized that that probably wasn't the thing that I wanted to be and so I happen to have a contact at CES and they brought me in to interview and the rest of my event. Where is it? Three, I started with CES. I spent nine years with them. So um, you know, I threw this one other time. The first time though I was on my own right, I wasn't married yet. I didn't have any kids. Now I have a family behind me to do this and that it's a little different. So I've gone through this career reinvention, more than what the super cool thing about this is that some of the people that are reaching out that are sending my name out of people that I work with in politics, all those years ago, and they're the ones that are supporting me, and you know, offering the praise or sending my needs out to their contacts. And I haven't worked with them in over a decade. And that's awesome. And that just makes me feel good about it about the relationships I've built, and the quality of those relationships. So it's not just my event friends, who are have been helpful, but it's even my kind of previous love to that, too. Yeah,

Patrick Rife:

yeah. So okay, so you decided to do it, right? What's the MVP stuff you need? What do you build? What did you What did you do first? Like I'm talking tactical, make a website? Did you get a one sheet? No, just say like Facebook, I'm screaming in the ether.

Annemarie Allain:

Yeah, so oddly enough, I don't really. I used to I took a sabbatical from Facebook A few years ago, and have never really gone back. What I did first go is just looked up, like copywriting programs. You know, I know that I can, like I have that confidence, I know that I can teach the words together and well, but I really wanted to kind of get brass tacks and copywriting, and you know, things that catch attention, and etc. So I found a program that just the online program, and I signed up for that completely over the summer, I also registered myself for the Professional Writing Program at UC Berkeley. So I'm two classes into that it's the only time in my life I can say I have a 4.0. And now that author, my actual academic career, but I took classes into that program at UC Berkeley, obviously all virtual. So I took some time to really get some professional development, get some education and put myself behind that because to be frank, while I have the event industry experience, I've never held the title of writer or copywriter before. And while I've done it, I wanted people to know that I was going all in on this wasn't just like a whim and women are minute job came because I am moving to this completely. So I, before I did a website before did anything else. I went through some classes, I went through professional development, just to kind of get myself together, and then put together a website, you can find me at a two services dotnet. And, you know, it was through there and I had to build up some samples and stuff. I didn't have any, you know, I didn't have any pieces. So I had written a few things on my own, I had written some stuff through the courses I've taken. A friend of mine who I've worked with in the past is a graphic designer. And so I partnered with her and she put together some great I was blown away how how amazing her designs without. And so I put that all together and the website is evolving. I don't want to tinker with it all the time and play with it, etc. And frankly, I started out pretty general, it's working really well. But for anybody who wants to hire me like whether you're a, you know, technology firm, or an event marketing firm, or, you know, you sell Avon, I don't know. And so, I I quickly realized that I had this like skill in my arsenal. And that was that I can talk to you as a bad person. And we can talk you know, like Bo O's and dressage, and, you know, all the lingo that we all know in the event world. But I also can translate that for people who don't know that, and it was just this kind of like niche and so I ended up going back here and and just really customizing what I was doing to meet the events landscape. So I started the website. You know, I went to LinkedIn and I share with all my friends, here's what I'm doing. I'm excited to tell you my website's lie, I probably reached out to about 300 of my LinkedIn contacts directly, not just a mass email, but I direct message them individually and discuss you know, like, hey, it's good to see that you're doing whatnot and use a real personal touch to just said, here's an image to let you know know any private whatever. And actually, that brought a lot of referrals and still it people like I still love your message and hey, I've got this job that I know about. You know, and from there just kind of started working my network and you know, posting on LinkedIn, I created a company site, a company page, I'm sorry, trying to put a company page or profile on there so I you know, post my own kind of content on there. I set up you are calls on LinkedIn, you'll find that I've written a couple articles there. And I'm in the midst of writing a third one now. So I really just, you know, I got the samples put together and up a website put together, and then I just kind of hit LinkedIn and and did that. The other thing, and I think you're probably going to refer to this is, you know, started using some of the freelance websites, just to go out there and get in the market. And, you know, meet people and get some some writing under my belt. course, that's how we met. So, you know, that's kind of the tactical of, of what I did, but I took it I didn't just like suddenly throw together that said, as an underwriter, if I took the time to really get some education, get some development, think about how I wanted to do this, make sure that, you know, make sure that I was approaching this from a professional standpoint, not just a band aid. Career.

Patrick Rife:

Yeah, yeah, that's awesome. So Well, I mean, let you mentioned it. So let's get into it. Tell me about let's, let's go to browsing Upwork. And so there's like, yeah, there's like some fun synchronicity that happened with how you ended up finding, finding, finding our you know, the Pixilated listing for someone to write our virtual event trends report.

Annemarie Allain:

Yeah, that was, I mean, that couldn't have been a better week for me actually. Um, so I registered for Upwork, which, you know, for better or worse, some writers and creative minds will tell you don't go near it, someone will tell you, hey, it's a good way to build writing. I thought, What's in it for? So get on there and say to my profile, and, you know, one of the first listings they see is, hey, we need a virtual events trend report written? And I'm like, well, that's, that's right up my alley. So I found your listing. And I distinctly remember our first meeting and call together because he said, so how many projects Have you completed on up work? And I was like, Well, at this point, none. But in all fairness, I joined on Monday, on like, Thursday. So it was just that first week that, you know, and I couldn't have been more excited to have you guys be one of my first clients. Because the the kind of eight to be on a site where people are asking for everything from blogs about, you know, CBD to, you know, can you read my automotive website, but right away at the end, on a project that was just, I'm so passionate about events, and that's my background was just kind of like, wow, this is this is awesome. So, yeah, we've one, I think, is I haven't been on there very long. And you guys really the first ones I ran into, which was awesome.

Patrick Rife:

Yeah. You know, and one of the awesome things for us was that, you know, we had already been putting such a premium on facilitating, like, super intentional connections with with the like, with the global MPI community, if you will. And I think that, you know, you had you had even been, you know, in a tertiary sense aware of Pixilated, because of that, because we were, we were, you know, unintentionally pre marketing you to find us and end up writing this thing. And, and I think that it was one of those things where we had already been trying to build inroads, and then, you know, like a significant portion of the submissions for that, that survey that we carried out our MPI, you know, that's MPI feedback, like it's very heavily tilted in that direction. So to have a copywriter come out of the woodwork that was steeped in the event space that was steeped in MP that like, knew all of the kinds of things that could, you know, intimately feel, you know, had lost their job because of this thing that that was, you know, basically the impetus for us writing the whole report, there was just all of this kind of synchronicity that was there that made it really great. So appreciate.

Annemarie Allain:

I had seen you. I had seen you guys through MPI stuff. I'm a member of MPI and I, II, and I have my CEO, you know, and I've gone through a leadership training and things like that. So I have, I have certainly seen Pixilated over time, you know, and so when I knew that you guys could either an honor fork, sometimes it's a little questionable or like, Who are these people? But when I saw, you know, it was Pixilated. I was like, Oh, well, I know you I knew you guys in the space and you're legit. But yeah, it was just a really good. Just a lot of stars aligned on on that one.

Patrick Rife:

Yeah, well, so let's talk a little bit about let's talk a little bit about the report. You know, like, I am so proud of it. I for a variety of reasons. I'm proud that we did something like I mean, we've done things like this before, but the inflection has never been like it was before like getting you know, close to 600 entries to anything is nearly impossible. Unless you're like a big dog. That is got like a huge marketing team and it was just us just like driving this thing. And quite frankly, we rolled it out and it was live and not getting the same inflection, then we finally saw, like, we like change something and got it to the right people, and all of a sudden, it hit really well. So I was proud that we got real engagement on it. But we quickly saw how valuable how high quality that the feedback that we were getting was, and we were like, we're never going to do this service, if we try and take all of this and distill it ourselves and just turn it around, we're going to really put out something underwhelming, whereas we felt like if we found the right person, to Helms, the writing of it, and to really distilling it, that we might have something really special on our hands. So you know, from from getting good responses to then getting to work with you and and, you know, like having Nick feel so strongly and confident in you. And being like she's really got this, like Emory really knows what we're trying to do. And just that like that Kaizen that just we were improving incrementally, and it was a blend of the content that you had to work with, and the way that the relationship and the report was building. And then to have you hand over what you handed over was amazing. And then to have that inspire Nick to do the type of design that he did to really, like put a bow on the whole thing and really bring it to life, it felt it felt very masterful, particularly for people that were just coming. I mean, we had never produced anything of that scale, you had never really written anything of that scale in your at least in this new iteration of your of your new business. Yeah, yeah. So so maybe just a little bit about what it was, you know, what it was like to kind of get such a center of the lane steak on your plate right off the jump.

Annemarie Allain:

Everybody? I mean, that was awesome. Like, don't get me wrong, I just, you know, I and I think we talked about it, Nick and started going through those results, right? And he's like, I don't know, I'm like a few 100 or whatever. And he's been making the note. And I said, Well, I can do that. And that was one of the things I think I told you guys from the beginning is that I can read those results. And I know what those people are talking about, right? Like, that's, I'm not a copywriter that you have to educate on the industry. And so he was like, great, and shoved it all my way, which was totally fine. You know, and, and I actually truly enjoyed going through and seeing people's feedback, because, you know, I've been sitting through webinars and, and hearing my call my old colleagues talk about it, but it was nice to hear from such a broad spectrum of people, what their thoughts were on it. But you know, there was a lot of, obviously kind of the same, same things just got articulated differently in all the content, but there was just so much there, you know, so many good, so many good comments, so much good meat to write that with. You know, and it was exciting for me to write because it's, it's something I've lived and I'll just feel a point, like, it's affected me, you know, as much as anyone else with losing a job and choosing to do this. But yeah, it was, I think it was exciting for me to write. And I spent a lot of time in it, because it was, I felt like it was such an important topic. And then to see you know, sending it out, I was nervous to hit send. So you guys, I hope this is what they want. So I was really glad that that a met your needs. And you guys were happy with it. But then to get that that first PDF to see what naked design, I was like to this looks amazing. And I was just really excited to see his his visuals and his creativity, bring the words on the page to life, you know, or for him to make infographics and add icons and pull out numbers and stuff that that I had put in the test spec to go from that, you know, five page word doc that I sent you to beautiful design I was that was exciting for me. It's like that's my word legit and his design. And that's cool. So that was that was exciting. And I and that is truly still I've gotten to do a lot of projects over the last year. And I would say it will remain one of my my favorite and I'm really glad that it was one that launched this company because it was a it was a lot of fun.

Patrick Rife:

Yeah, yeah. Well, you You knocked it out of the park. It was great. I know that even for Nick even in the design, like certainly we wanted it to be amazing. And I'm always like, it's got to be incredible. Like it's got to be great. It's got to be great. And I think that that's one of the things that we've really hit on and anybody that's out there following along with the content that we've been making since then, like the last five months, I feel like we've hit a new we've always had a brand from like the from the first second we had a sense of our brand. But it's you know like your brand changes and it migrates, and the value props change inside of it. And what we want to be about now is about, you know, it's not so dissimilar to what we've been the last few years, but it's it's much clearer. And it's about creating, you know, quality technology that helps you accomplish things efficiently and effectively. And that it's like a pleasant experience and doing it. So like, what we want to do is like, speak, you know, like, we talked about, like hard sales versus soft sales, like, I want to educate you like to the moon and back. And like, if you don't buy from us, like no problem, like, I'll take a little bit of pride from having been able to help you learn something. And I know, in the back of my mind that if we're doing that, well, if we're really walking the walk and talking the talk and like not veering outside of our lanes, taking the time to execute Well, you know, that, like, everything will work itself out beyond that. And I know that for Nick, that was a big part of it. But also, I know that for him, he he knew that it was going to end up being a real cornerstone for you, at least at the beginning. So there was also this element of being like, this is going to be a really important part of her portfolio. So like, I mean, I remember talking about it being like, Emory is going to be so stoked when she sees this because this is a big project for her. And for her to say, hey, like, I'm just out of the gate, but look at this. And, and you know, have it look and feel very professional.

Annemarie Allain:

It's, it's so one of the cornerstones and one of the things that when I'm talking to people, I absolutely share with them, Hey, you know, cuz this is what I didn't realize, when I started this is I've always just thought copywriting, right, you're writing text. And to me, there was no difference between, well, there was a blog, or whether it's a social media post, and there is a difference, right. So, you know, what I did for you guys is actually content writing versus copywriting, which is like, a quick, you know, social media post or something, you put in a one pager ad. And I didn't know there was a difference, which is why I took the time at the beginning to do the professional development and the education so that I knew what I was talking about. You know, and so now I have people coming and asking, do you do long form content? And I hang my hat on that trend report? Because I'm like, as a matter of fact to do and so yeah, no, it's it certainly is a cornerstone for me and continues to be,

Patrick Rife:

yep. Awesome. Well, so we have I don't want to stretch too long. I don't take up too much of your time. Yeah, but I do want to make sure that, you know, before we go, you know, you're probably at this point, getting a sense of like, where your sweet spot is, you know, like who and I know that, you know, you're probably open to working with with anyone hearing from anyone at least having a chat. But, you know, why don't you let everybody know, like one like, what, what's a good fit for you right now? And, and to if they want to get in touch to get a quote or to learn more about your services? How do they do that?

Annemarie Allain:

Absolutely. You can find me at a two services dotnet in my email is Amery, which is a and e Ma Ri E, as a two services document. You know, I've had a chance over the course of the last few months to do a few different things. I've been doing a lot of work on blogs, really enjoying blogs, and talking about, you know, the future of the industry, etc. But I've also been doing a lot of website text and email funnels and things like that to to drum up attendees. So you know, I think we're my sweet spot right now is working with folks who are either continuing to do their virtual events, or looking at doing a hybrid event, whether you're a show manager, or whether you're a vendor, I can, I can certainly help any of those. So I think that, you know, doing really blogs, blogs, website packs, email funnels, that kind of stuff has has kind of where I'm hitting where I'm helping, helping social media posts as well. But there's also some strategy, you know, how do we look at where we're moving forward as far as events and the strategy of, you know, seeing how the hybrid events and it's going to happen, going back live, and I had a conversation with a neighbor, or somebody who's exhibiting in a hybrid space. And, and we talked a little bit about what, you know, they brand themselves to go into boats. So, and right now, I've kind of covered the gamut. And I would have liked that, to be honest with you, it's given me a really great perspective. And what that's doing is that I can take that perspective and draw it into other writing. So, you know, kind of covering the gamut, I guess, you know, I've done some particular prospectuses as well for folks. So I would say if you have a project and you want to know whether it's in my art, and you're interested in talking to me, give me a call or send me, send me a note on the The webpage or an email? And you know, I told you what, before we started, I'm not a hard pill person. So if it's not something that I feel like I'm going to be able to do effectively for you, I'll tell you that. And you know, but I think if it's a if it's a good fit, and I can help, then I would love to hear from anybody out there.

Patrick Rife:

Awesome. Good answer. Good answer. Well, and so everyone, just so you all know, the the 2020 virtual event trends report that Anne Marie wrote for us. Now that's available as well, if you if you find the links here in, in this podcast episode are in the video, I'll link to it, go ahead and download it. That's another way to steep yourself in some of her writing, Emory, I can't tell you how appreciative I am of getting to work with you professionally, getting to know you. It's it's a real treat. I think that the best is still yet to come in our partnership. You know, like we're certainly planning on working with you in a variety of ways for the rest of this year. So you know, keep keeping on and and thanks for taking time out of your day to come on and do a quick interview and tell our audience about what you do.

Annemarie Allain:

Thank you for having me. This was great.

Patrick Rife:

All right, everyone. So that brings us to an end of a another episode of The Pixilated Podcast. Before you go if you can remember to rate review and subscribe. Your reviews and ratings help us find more listeners, people that are looking to get great event centric information. And then obviously your subscription ensures you're notified each time we publish a new episode on your platform of choice. So without further ado, I'm Patrick Rife