Secrets to Convene's Success Shared by the Company's VP of Marketing
Elisabeth Brier and Ray Cheng

We’ve all been there. Your alarm goes off on weekday morning, and at that moment, you’d almost rather lose your job then roll out of bed.

This overwhelming sense, “do I really have to?” can be spurred for a variety of reasons, but more often than not it comes down to work not being a place you want to be.

Convene, however is aiming to change this.

A company that provides provides meeting, events, and conference spaces, Convene mission is to create places employees actually want to work in.

With venues in five major cities across the country and more to come, Convene has grown exponentially since its inception in 2009.

Ray Cheng, Convene’s VP of Marketing spoke to TechDay about how the company achieved this level of growth, how entrepreneurs can follow suit and what new innovations we can expect to see soon.

As a company that offers more than one singular product or service, how do you go about explaining Convene to totally new prospects?

All great companies that offer more than one product or service today will have to figure out a better way to explain their business because the bar for consumer expectations continues to rise. Ultimately, we all need to simply answer the key question, “What customer problem can we solve far better than anyone else?”

At Convene, we solve the inevitable challenge of meeting the workplace needs of tomorrow’s workforce. The workplaces of today aren’t built for tomorrow’s talent. Employees want better workplace experiences – where friction is removed by offering more choice and flexibility with top-notch design and hospitality. The “explain-it-to-your-grandma” elevator pitch we use to describe the company is often this analogy: Convene helps landlords and tenants transform traditional office buildings to look and feel more like full-service, lifestyle hotels that employees actually want to work in.

Who do you see as Convene's target audience and how do you go about reaching them? Why does this system work?

There’s a huge range in the customers we work with—we’ve worked with decision makers across every department in almost every industry. We have traditionally excelled at serving meeting and event planners as well as executive assistants within Fortune 500 companies who often face a variety of hurdles when planning their corporate meetings and events. Eight years later, we’re now working with workplace strategists, heads of real estate, people and culture teams, CFOs and CEOs who are making strategic decisions about their company’s future office footprint and what that should feel like.

Aside from our very loyal customer base, we’ve been able to diversify our audience followership by taking a content-first approach to our marketing efforts. We’re developing original content that is targeted towards our primary and secondary buyer personas – inspiring or challenging them to rethink about their current roles and business models. The unique lens that we’ve developed then allows us to formulate a differentiated voice and visual style that connects better with the marketplace. We’re also fortunate enough to leverage our national network of physical spaces to activate and regularly engage with our growing digital following - winning their hearts and minds by actually “showing” instead of just “telling.” As a result, we’ve created a really strong pipeline of business primarily driven by word-of-mouth and organic customer growth, and that allows us to leverage our paid advertising efforts to act more as an accelerator to promote our high-performing thought leadership pieces to maximize our brand awareness.

On the flip side, how do you go about connecting with venues and vendors to work with Convene? What value props do you emphasize to get them interested?

First and foremost, we look for partners that are value-aligned with Convene’s core values: GRIT (an acronym for Genuine, Relentless, Integrity, and Teamwork). We base all of our company’s decisions within our core values, and values-aligned vendors are important in achieving our shared goals. We also look for external partners who take a customer-centric approach to their business, and have a high overlap of mutual buyer personas. When these boxes are checked, we know we can build lasting partnerships with that vendor or partner.

To what extent does social media serve to bring visibility to Convene? What are your main strategies?

Since we’re a lifestyle brand at the intersection of real estate, hospitality, and technology, we’re able to leverage our social media channels as a pretty diverse storytelling platform, both visually and through written content. We’re able to show off the exceptional meeting and workplace experiences that happen within our spaces on a daily basis, we’re able to celebrate the great people and culture that make up Convene, and we’re able to amplify our musings that come from the 120+ years of experience that sit within Convene’s leadership team.

What would you say to entrepreneurs whose businesses aren't as easily definable as a single product or service? How can they overcome this via marketing?

For early-stage entrepreneurs, traditional marketing efforts should happen after they achieve product-market fit. They have to intimately understand who their customers are and be able to over deliver on the products or services offered – making sure that they’re solving a big pain point. Then, continuing to refine the product or service to remove as much friction as possible between the pain point and their solution. It is only then that you can turn these early adopters of your product into advocates of your product. Building a word-of-mouth “snowball” is the best thing an entrepreneur can work towards early on. Otherwise, turning on marketing resources (both people and dollars) will likely go to waste. More importantly, if you can’t do this as fast or better than your competitors, you won’t be able to scale at the velocity rate needed to survive.

Anything new we can expect from Convene in the near future?

More places, and more ways to serve our customers! Our ultimate goal is to make the workplace experience more enjoyable for today’s top talent, and for the office to be a place that people aren’t trying to run away from at 5pm. We want to break down the traditional barriers of cubicles and corner offices, and replace them with the spirit of generosity, anticipatory hospitality, and experientially positive workplaces.

We are partnering with leading commercial landlords like Brookfield, The Durst Organization, and Blackstone to develop workplace-as-a-service solutions that provide every tenant in an office building with the full-service amenities and experiences of a lifestyle hotel. In the first half of 2018, we will be vastly expanding our national network in NYC, LA, Boston, Philadelphia, DC Metro, and internationally. We’ll also be announcing new, industry-changing products and services that are currently in beta with some of our clients. It’s going to be a busy year!