Make change. Not noise. Competing for attention is challenging, but InVision Communications can help. A full-service engagement solutions agency since 1991, InVision moves people to action through integrated experiential, design, digital and communications campaigns anchored in strategy, creativity, and technology. The firm partners with iconic brands, including Oracle, Genentech, Dell Technologies, Facebook, and DuPont, and brings campaigns to life in memorable ways. Knowing that audience attention is limited, their stories go straight to the heart of what matters.
Business View Magazine recently asked Jill Tanner, SVP Creative Design and Marketing at InVision Communications, how they are adapting their business during the Covid-19 pandemic. The following highlights the company’s background and its innovative and evolving responses to this critical situation.
BVM: How has InVision evolved since its founding?
Tanner: “InVision was founded in 1991 by Drew Hagen and Rod Mickels, two experienced and passionate event producers who still run the company today. Rod and Drew disliked the revolving door of staff assigned to client business and felt their clients deserved more. They also wanted to deliver more, so they created a new service model where core teams invested time in relationships and gained a growing understanding of each client’s business to help them learn, grow, and succeed. This model has allowed InVision to retain accounts for decades or more.
“Continuity in a core client team allows us to better understand the culture and style of the client’s organization, as well as the preferences of their executives. And staying current with a client’s business challenges and opportunities also provides us with a strategic perspective that adds communication value, not simply production expertise. At InVision, it is our firm belief that people possess an inherent desire to learn, to grow, and to succeed. Through our work, we tap into that desire, powering their movement from good to great, from disinterested to inspired, from indifferent to impassioned. We engage audiences in a way that moves them to action.
“Key milestones in our agency’s history include our geographic expansion, opening offices in New York in 2004 and in Chicago in 2009. Our services have similarly expanded; early on, we offered primarily event production services, but now we’re a full-service engagement solutions agency. As part of this trajectory, we’ve meaningfully augmented our strategy and creative offerings over the past 13 years, and in 2018, we acquired Hectic Digital.
“Since the beginning, we have been most proud of the work we do with and for our clients. In addition to retaining valued clients long-term, we have successfully demonstrated our value to new clients and, consequently, we have diversified our business across industries and increased the number of clients over $1M, lessening our risk.”
Challenge in the Industry
BVM: How has your business changed since the start of the Covid-19 crisis? Have you had to pivot any internal or external processes? How do you continue to provide value to clients?
Tanner: “During this health crisis, we believed that brands needed to continue – and even increase – communications with their employees, customers, and partners. To that end, we quickly formed an internal task force to design digital solutions to support our clients, and we brought those solutions to market quickly.
“We developed a Pivot Playbook to provide end-to-end guidance and tools, enabling our clients to evaluate their options and execute impactful digital programs instead of face-to-face ones. Our Playbook covers everything from adapting content to best serve a digital audience to selecting the right platforms, based on needed functionality. We also developed a complimentary virtual workshop designed to help clients develop a custom plan that would address their specific needs. The result: Our clients have a roadmap for delivering on their business objectives during these times, and they can socialize it internally and use it to gain alignment.
“Knowing how many brands were struggling to develop their own pivot plans during such a high-pressure moment in time, we also put together a webinar to share best practices and the tools we developed to provide guidance. We invited our client Jeanne Robb, VP, Strategic Events, from DocuSign, to share her experience. She had two programs loading into the San Francisco Hilton right when the shelter-in-place order went into effect in California. Together, we worked for 72 hours straight to pivot her face-to-face event to two virtual events. This allowed the audience to remain at home safely while DocuSign was still able to share their key messaging – and audience and executives couldn’t have been more pleased. We subsequently have worked with Genentech, Atlassian, and RMS to deliver virtual programs, and we have another half-dozen in pre-production now.”
BVM: How have you maintained your employees, vendors, and clients to ensure you are doing everything you can for your ‘community’?
Tanner: “Recognizing that coronavirus put our industry at high risk, we started our own internal task force back in February. We ran several workstreams around the financial impact, communications and protocols with employees and clients, and means of addressing our clients’ business needs.
“Our primary focus was the health and well-being of our employees and clients. We assigned teams to develop communication plans and a cadence with these key stakeholders. Our account teams immediately reached out to clients to offer any support needed, including brainstorming sessions and pivot workshops. Our production team did the same with our partners.
“For our employees, we began holding weekly all-company staff meetings and near-daily office huddles. Also, we took the opportunity for those remote workers with available time to tackle some of our internal initiatives and projects. This ranged from tracking and auditing virtual events and documenting key learnings to share with our clients to virtual brainstorms to identify new engagement tactics for virtual audiences. Keeping all employees engaged and contributing is essential during these uncertain times.”
BVM: What key moves have you made during the crisis that have given you leverage in your industry?
Tanner: “We were very proactive in anticipating the needs of our clients. We quickly developed tools including a decision tree to help clients determine the path best suited for their needs, and we had consultation calls with almost all of our clients to help them think through a strategy if they were moving forward with their programs. This also allowed us to partner with clients on a broader digital communication plan. Knowing they would need to edit down the content for their virtual event, we helped them develop a campaign to pulse out their content over many months.
“We felt compelled to do everything possible to ensure our clients’ success, working with agility and creativity to develop solutions for their challenges. We continue to lead the pivoting process with our Pivot Playbook, content-first approach, and worksheets, communication matrix templates, and a complimentary Pivot Workshop for clients to develop a custom pivot plan.
“We also are preparing for what will come next, helping clients move safely back to what we expect will be a lot of hybrid events. We continue to hold regular webinars on topics we hear our clients are grappling with, including one on the pivot from face-to-face to virtual and another on how to rethink content when shifting to digital. And we are currently designing several more.”