Whether you’re attending a corporate event or a friend’s birthday celebration, the devil is in the details—and those details aren’t possible without organization and collaboration. Gabrey Means, co-founder and creative director of experiential marketing agency Grow Marketing, and her team live by the motto "create flawless live experiences." She and her team needed a simpler way to communicate with clients and partners, and when they adopted Google Apps, they experienced a seamless experience along with a boost in efficiency. We recently spoke with Gabrey about how her team uses Apps to design memorable events for their clients.
Q: Grow Marketing has grown 15% year over year and you anticipate even larger growth in the upcoming year. How has technology helped you scale and stay productive?
A: When we were a company of six employees, we simply walked to a co-worker’s desk to work on a project together. Now that we have over 60 employees in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles and around the country, it’s essential that multiple people can work on a deliverable at the same time from separate offices. Google Docs has solved that problem for us while improving our efficiency by allowing our team to work seamlessly at and away from the office and share information in real time. Believe it or not, since moving to Google Apps, our employees’ productivity has increased by 30%—we’ve reduced downtime by being able to collaborate live and are able to juggle more tasks at once.
Q: How has Google Apps changed the way you work with teams across the country?
A: Our team can meet face-to-face without devoting an enormous amount of time or money to traveling, and we still create a high-quality final product. In the past I used to travel at least twice a month to meet with clients and look at venues. Now I don’t have to—my co-workers can walk me through a venue via Google Hangouts. They use their mobile device to show me the space and layout which helps in creating floor plans, placing event elements and assigning locations for activities. Employees on-site also take photos, stitch them together in Google+ to create a 360-degree view of the venue, and then share those photos with everyone involved in the project. The panoramas help us understand nuances like specific measurements and the location of windows and walls.
Q: How do you use mobile devices in your day-to-day work?
A: We’re on mobile devices 80% of the time. When employees do on-site visits, they can easily take photos and collect information using Google Docs and Drive on their mobile phones, rather than lugging their laptops around or scribbling down notes. When we’re preparing for an event, the team pulls up floor plans on their phones to direct people where to place furniture and decor. All of our task lists, contracts and permits live on Drive, so it’s simple to access them—and edit them—from our phones. If we’re on-site and need to edit a Doc or Google Sheet, it takes minimal effort on mobile.
Q: How does technology play a role in your creative process?
A: Our creative team puts together a digital “mood board” in Google Slides using everything from paint swatches and fabrics to images. We share the board with the client, so they can comment on which images they like and which they’d like to remove. Recently we had to redesign a client’s mood board from the ground up in preparation for internal presentation. Since we were working in Slides and could see the client feedback in real time, our team worked with the client to redesign the mood board and were able to evolve the final presentation board with all collective input by the next day. A process that would normally take us a few days was reduced to a few supercharged hours.
Q: How do you share information with clients, external partners and employees?
A: We create an event master spreadsheet with links to all related Docs, Slides and other Sheets. The event master has detailed information about the venue, schedule, creative documents, attendee list and so on and is constantly being updated in real time as event details always shift. All our partners, from catering to decor, have access to the event master. When last-minute changes arise, the off-site design team can upload new creative assets to Slides, so the on-site team has the most updated files. We always have an updated list of attendees since we use Google Forms to collect registrations. This centralized database has dramatically increased our efficiency and ability to collaborate in a simple manner.
Gabrey Means, Co-founder and Creative Director, Grow Marketing
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