Business

Interview with Eric Olson — Zerista’s New CEO

Written by Tara Thomas
Buffer

So how’s the shift in your new position as Zerista’s CEO been so far?

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Read more about Eric & Zerista

It has been remarkably easy. I’ve been super excited about this segment of event technology for a few years so the opportunity to lead a great team that already has a great product and great clients was a bit of a dream come true.

The danger with taking on more is always losing touch with clients, but I wouldn’t have taken the role if I thought that could happen. As you know, I’m a bit of a meetings and events industry geek, so I rounded out the team here with more great people so I can continue to spend time working closely with – and learning from – our clients.

What’s your vision for the company?

We believe Zerista can turn events into any organization’s most powerful vehicle for growth by changing the way meetings work. Our combination of software and strategy gives organizations what they need to dull the noise that is inherent to live events and make it easier for everyone – attendees, marketers, exhibitors — to engage with exactly what they came to find. It’s a concept I call Customer Centric Events, and we’re super excited about the possibilities it opens for associations and businesses.

You’ve been in the industry for a long time, what new trends are you seeing?

Well, that’s a big question. I guess the most interesting trend to me is an emerging focus on the personalization. I think events have always struggled to make experiences relevant to everyone in the audience. So, people spend a lot of time doing things that aren’t exactly productive. Now, more organizations are open to using technology to create experiences that are more individualized. So, for example, attendees are using technology to build very custom education and meeting schedules leading up to the event. They’re not just wondering around aimlessly, hoping to find some good content or connections. They’re tailoring the event to their agenda. And marketers are more interested in targeting the right prospects rather than just getting as many people to the booth as possible. Instead of looking to get the most meetings, they now want the right meetings. It’s a trend that doesn’t get as much air time as some other broader topics like mobile, but it significant in that it could very well be what allows events to deliver the kind of value people expect them to.

The other interesting trend I’ve seen lately is the fast-growing desire to create and share content. We’ve been talking for a while about how events are no longer a one-way conversation. We’re starting to see that really take shape now. People no longer want to sit back and listen. They want to be part of the discussion and content creation process. And they no longer want to collect content. They badly want to share it with other people. So, for example, if I see a great session, I don’t just want to save that presentation for later, I want to quickly push it out to others who might be interested.

Which new trends and concepts do you see Zerista embracing? How and why/what’s the inspiration?

Zerista started a few years ago as a community app, making smart connections between attendees and the content, people and solutions at events. That’s quite different from other event apps that started as digital program guides. So, from the beginning the team has focused on translating broader trends like social media, data intelligence and targeted advertising into the events world. Those are the every day trends that are most important to attendees, exhibitors and the organizations we serve. So, those are the trends we continue to study and innovate from. It’s not crazy futuristic stuff. Its technology people of all ages and backgrounds are using in their every day lives, and now it’s changing events.

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Give us 3 reasons why Zerista is different from the rest of the event apps out there?

First, we have the best solution across every device, anywhere in the world. While mobile is certainly an important piece of Zerista, we’ve been able to create measurably more engagement for our clients by providing a solution that is authentic to whatever device a person is using. What we’ve found is that people prefer to use their personal computes before and after events. So, our integrated web app has been super important in delivering better engagement to the tune of two plus hours of measurable engagement per attendee before a meeting even starts.

Second, our vision has always been that event apps should be a moneymaker for events rather than a new cost center. So, our clients will tell you that Zerista actually makes them money. From smart sponsorship tools like targeted messages and gamification to our built-in lead retrieval app, we’ve built Zerista to drive direct, measurable ROI for any event.

Third, we understood early on that meeting organizers needed more than just a great app. They needed guidance and materials to help them use that app to create better events. So, we’ve not only built a great support team, but we’ve built a team of event experts who help our client do everything from creating promotional materials to creating excitement about the app onsite.

Thanks for your time, Eric.  Good luck leading Zerista into this new phase of success.

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For more info on Zerista, visit www.zerista.comRead about Eric here.

 

 

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Tara is CMO and Co-Founder of The Meeting Pool, and a round-the-clock marketeer who works with tech companies on marketing activities including branding, events, social media, public relations, communications, strategy, and operations. Her background in the marketing of technology applications and online services spans a broad set of technologies including software-as-a-service, B2B, enterprise, financial services, publishing, real estate, and automotive markets. She has over 15 years of expertise managing strategic event marketing programs for companies including The Television Bureau of Advertising, Oracle, IPIX and The Cobalt Group, a leader in the automotive marketing space. Most recently at Certain, Inc., Thomas oversaw a myriad of strategic marketing initiatives that were essential to Certain’s growth.
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