When Summit Gets Cancelled

  • Pierre Hage

    Pierre Hage

Published Mar 10, 2020

When Summit Gets Cancelled


Discover our response to the Adobe Summit cancellation. Learn how we turn challenges into opportunities. Explore our strategic approach to recover and reinvest.

Sometimes, circumstances happen outside of our control. Plans change, weather interferes, global health concerns arise … it’s just how life goes.

The Knak team has been planning for Adobe Summit for months, but last week, in the midst of travel concerns, the event was cancelled.

Adobe Summit isn’t alone. Facebook, UNICEF, TED, Amazon Web Services, and a host of other organizations have cancelled events across the globe. South by Southwest won’t take place this year, museums are closed, and sports teams are currently competing without spectators.

None of these decisions were made lightly, and Knak is just one of thousands of businesses who were affected by the Adobe Summit news. We’re definitely disappointed, though, so as the CMO, I have the unique challenge of leading the team through the aftermath of what was to be one of our biggest marketing events of the year.

Planning Ahead

We started planning for Summit in mid-2019. Many of our customers come to Summit every year, and we look forward to the opportunity to connect face to face and show them some love with exclusive events.

We also look forward to connecting with prospective customers. We invest heavily in Summit because the ROI is undeniable: we’re able to meet prospects in person, which often accomplishes the work of a few weeks of calls and emails, engage with people who don’t know about us yet, size up our competition, and connect with thousands of our fellow marketers all in one place.

It’s truly an “all-in” event for us. The connections we make at Summit lead to sales pipeline for months and even years to come, so when Adobe announced they were cancelling, I immediately started thinking about how to minimize the impact of the cancellation on our business and our team.

It was time to start making lemonade.

Step 1 – What can we recuperate?

In the last 6 months, we’ve invested a lot of time, money, and effort into Summit. Adobe has been extraordinary, and they made it simple to get our money back.

Likewise, we had a special event planned at a venue inside the hotel, which allowed us to cancel without penalty. We were also able to put the brakes on some of the swag we ordered and the build for our booth.

Unfortunately, there’s a decent amount we can’t get back. Some of the swag has already been produced, and we have printing projects in process that can’t be halted and travel expenses that won’t be refunded. Plus, our team has invested significant time brainstorming, planning, designing, writing, etc, and those hours cannot be recovered.

So, my first job was to take a look at what we have spent and figure out what we can recover.

Step 2 – What do we do next?

Once I understood how much money we had to play with (and how much we had to just write off), we started to think about what to do with the funds.

Our investment in Summit was part of our marketing spend, and it’s primary purpose was to drive pipeline growth and foster customer success. To that end, what makes the most sense? Do we invest in marketing initiatives? Shuffle some of the budget to the sales team? Use part of it for customer appreciation?

I’m not going to give away the farm and hand out our marketing plan, but as the CMO, I will tell you that I’m confident in my team, and I believe that our path forward is investing in a combination of projects both inside and outside the marketing department.

Step 3 – Pivot

You decide how you look at life – positive or negative. As a leader, you also influence how your team looks at life. For my part, I’m choosing to look at this as an opportunity.

On the one hand, the planning we did is not a total loss. We made some critical decisions about Adobe Summit as a team, and we’re going to shelve those decisions and use them as a launch point for the 2021 event. That way, we won’t be starting from scratch, and some of the legwork will be done before we even begin.

On the other hand, the Summit cancellation gives us a chance to test some new campaigns and new ideas we wouldn’t otherwise have the time or money to explore. As with anything new, there are risks to what we’re doing, but I truly believe that doing nothing in this circumstance and continuing with business as usual is an even bigger risk.

So, we’re going to ride with this change and explore some new opportunities. After all, Knak is an email marketing company, and in the face of worldwide event cancellations, what form of communication is more critical than ever?

If your prospects can’t come to you, you’re going to have to go to them. And so far, the email inbox has proven to be an excellent place to reach customers.

If it’s time to start building beautiful emails that keep your brand at the centre, we’d love to chat. Request a demo and let us show you how Knak makes it easy to create incredible emails from start to finish!

Not ready to chat yet? Browse through our product page to learn more.

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  • Pierre Hage


    Pierre Hage


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