Sara is responsible for growing Twilio’s community of developers while simultaneously bringing Twilio into the enterprise market. Prior to Twilio, Sara was SVP of Marketing at Salesforce where she was responsible for the positioning and go-to-market strategy for Sales Cloud, the world’s leading sales platform. At Salesforce, Sara held various leadership roles, including marketing for Desk.com and the Salesforce AppExchange. Before joining Salesforce, Sara worked in mobile strategy at E! Networks. She holds a BS in Business Administration from Bucknell University and an MBA from The Anderson School of Management at UCLA.
According to Sara Varni, every marketer is a demand gen marketer in some respect, because success is all about performance. But that doesn’t mean that every marketer needs to be a “spreadsheet jockey.” On this episode of Demand Gen Visionaries, Sara tells us why it’s important to combine the art and science of demand gen to fully master the art of B2B marketing.
“Personalization is going to be the key to conversion moving forward.”
“[Demand gen is] a mix of art and science. You need a mix of short term wins that are easy to quantify and awareness tactics that are not perfectly simple to align attribution to.”
“It’s been a really crazy time to lead people but I do really believe we’re all going to come out of this stronger marketers.”
“Get under the hood as quickly as you can go look at your funnel top to bottom. Figure out where your biggest levers are and where you can have the most impact.”
The following is an automated transcript. There may be some misspellings or inaccuracies.
[00:00:00] [00:00:00] Ian Faison: Welcome to demand gen visionaries. I'm Ian Faison, host of demand gen visionaries and CEO of Caspian studios. We have special guests and fellow dragon, Sarah. How's it going?
[00:00:12] Sara Varni: Good.Good to see you guys again.
[00:00:14] Ian Faison: Yeah.Great to have you on the show. Okay, so let's get started. What was your first job in demand gen?
[00:00:20] Sara Varni: My first dive in demand gen was kind of an accident to be quite honest. I started off. In tech marketing as a product marketer. And I actually worked on thepartner team for Salesforce. So I wasn't even a step removed from supporting asales team. And one of firstname.lastname@example.org.
[00:00:42] And she said, you're going to come run marketingfor me. And I said, I don't know if I have all of the like, experience to dothat. And she said, Oh, forget it. You're just going to do it. Yeah, I trustyou, whatever. So I was thrown right into the deep end and I was essentially amini CMO for this product line.
[00:00:54] So not only did I, uh, inherit demand genovernight, but I inherited demand gen for high volume, small business teams. Soright into the deep end of demand, gen uh, you know, very growth oriented andself service model. And I remember her turning to me. She's someone who swearsquite frequently, if you've met.
[00:01:15] Person. And she was like, how much are we effingspending on SEM? And I was like, Ugh, shit, Googling like appropriate amountsto spend on B2B businesses for a SEM and like combing through HubSpot andtrying to find any guidance I could, it was really sink or swim. I had to learnas quickly as I could. I surrounded myself with people who actually knew whatthey were doing and had more experience in demand gen and just had to learn theropes really quickly
[00:01:40] Ian Faison: whilewe're one of the things that, especially growing up in a product marketingbackground.
[00:01:44] Where you're completely shifting gears in a lotof ways mentally. What were some of the things that when you switched over,what are the things that were the hardest to really understand?
[00:01:52] Sara Varni: Ithink from the outside, people might assume that demand gen is a hundredpercent science that you should hire a [00:02:00] team full of spreadsheet,jockeys, and just have them crunching numbers and hire a bunch of.
[00:02:05] Ex wall street analysts and Ashley think that'sthe wrong approach. So coming into the role, I learned quickly that it's reallya mix of art and science, and you really need to make sure that you arebuilding the healthiest funnel longterm. And that's a mix of short term winsthat are really easy to quantify and that you can.
[00:02:20] Instantly seeing a spreadsheet and measure youryear and have very clear pipe to spend. And then it's also a mix of awarenesstactics that are not perfectly simple to align attribution to. And it takes alittle bit more faith in the system to make sure that you are not just thinkingabout the short term wins and the immediate pipeline.
[00:02:40] You can feed sales, but also, how are you gettingpeople to your website? How are you getting them to engage over a longer periodof time? Because ultimately that'll build a much healthier funnel.
[00:02:49] Ian Faison: Let'sget to our first segment, the trust tree. So this is where we feel honest andtrusted, and you can share your deepest, darkest, imagine secrets
[00:02:57] Sara Varni: withthe knowledge you've been given
[00:02:58] Ian Faison: me.
[00:02:59] Sara Varni: Youare now on the inside of what I like to call the circle.
[00:03:02] Ian Faison: Trust
[00:03:03] Sara Varni: whatI thought we were in the trust tree with in the nest. Are we not? No, no, no. Isigned up for this.
[00:03:10] Ian Faison: Yeah.So a you did unfortunately, and fortunately for our listeners. So what wouldyou say is your like demand gen strategy as CMO Twilio?
[00:03:19] Sara Varni: SoI think it goes back to finding that right balance between awareness andshorter term wins. You're always a, at least at Twilio, we serve all differentsegments of the market from a one to two person startup to the largest fortune500 companies in the world. And so with that, I need to make sure that I've gotthe right balance of campaigns and activity that aligns to those segments.
[00:03:42] And then I also need to make sure that I havethat right cut between the things that are going to pay off in the short term.Maybe that's Google SCM with more of the longterm plays. What are our organiccontent strategy? What are the events that we want to attend? That might bemore industry focused and not explicitly, [00:04:00] you know, Tulio focused tobuild more of a brand over a longer period of time.
[00:04:04] So I'm always trying to make sure that. When I'mthinking about allocating my budget, that I'm not over-rotated, um, towards anyone of those elements too far, and that we're, we're building the healthiestfunnel that we can long term.
[00:04:15] Ian Faison: Sohow do you structure your team to go after your accounts?
[00:04:19] Sara Varni: Sowe have, as part of the Twilio marketing org, we have the benefit of reallygetting to see everything knows detail.
[00:04:25] So we've got our demand gen function underneathus, and there they're primarily focused with how do we get people initiallyinterested to. Sign up. And then we actually have a separate growth team.That's focused on signup to a meaningful amount of conversion. So spending acertain amount, getting to a certain threshold of spend on Twilio.
[00:04:43] So we actually have those as two separate teams.We also have the developer evangelism team as part of the Twilio marketingteam, which I think is super critical for Twilio because we're such a developercentric company, ask your developer, ask your developer. That's right. That is.Our longstanding tagline and something that we definitely live true to everyday.
[00:05:01] And so I think having those functions all workingtogether is really important because we're really close to the developerevangelists in terms of what topics are going to be the most relevant at thetop of funnel and pull people in, what are the activities we can get to pullpeople further to a conversation with us and actually start engaging with ouraccount team.
[00:05:18] And then ultimately, how can we prep them withthe tutorials and the. Documentation to actually get their projects off theground. And so being able to have all those functions working together in onemarketing org, I think has been really critical to our success.
[00:05:31] Ian Faison: Soin terms of your demand gen function, do you think that like, you know, one ofthe things is, you know, kind of those breaking down of silos and things likethat, do you feel like there's something that you do that allows you to be alittle more integrated and not have it be kind of like standalone siloed fromthe other parts of the marketing org?
[00:05:51] Sara Varni: I'dlove to answer that question in the context of COVID. I think it's actuallybeen really interesting to see how all the groups have come together. I thinkin the wake of COVID, it's been [00:06:00] apparently clear what use cases aregoing to be most relevant for Twilio and our customer base right now. And so wemeet biweekly with a team across the different functions I talked about before.
[00:06:10] So demand gen growth, our developer evangelismteam, or product marketers. And we're saying, all right. For these use cases,do we have the, like, why you should be thinking about this use case so thatour product manager or a line of business buyer knows why they should beinterested in it? And then do we have the actually how you do it?
[00:06:26] Like how all right. We've decided that this is animportant use case for the company. Now I need to. Give my developers, thetools to actually go build it. And so I think in making sure that we arelooking at use cases from top to bottom, we're able to drive a heavier level ofengagement and ultimately conversion in our customer base.
[00:06:45] Ian Faison: Whenyou're looking at the accounts, you mentioned a little bit, and I want to getinto the personas a little bit more. Do you find that it's difficult when youhave so many different types of personas? Cause I mean, for obviously withtechnology companies, the CIO is always important. Stakeholder, you know,potentially the CTO.
[00:07:02] You all have obviously marketing and comms arestakeholders you at Twilio just by the nature of the product is so integrated.Communication is so integrated to everything we do now, do you have a lot ofdifferent people in that? So for demand gen, you know, trying to say, Hey, weneed to build pipeline, but you know, these buying committees might bepotentially really big.
[00:07:21] Like what do those personas look like? And how doyou kind of crawl those.
[00:07:25] Sara Varni: Yeah.I mean, I think another part of my strategy is making sure that we're notspreading ourselves too thin. Cause I think it would be easy to your point.Communications is so ubiquitous. There's so many different ways you could takeit and there's so many permutations of campaigns you could run.
[00:07:36] And so I really try when we're thinking about Ihave a outbound and inbound approach. So when I think about outbound and how wewant to place media, for example, I want to focus on. Two to three top personasand really concentrate our energy and our resources behind that. So I thinkabout VPs of product, or I think about heads of context center.
[00:07:54] And I do think about developers in that mix too,just broadly and think about the channels that they typically [00:08:00] engageon. Although they're not. I always say rule number one of marketing developersis don't market to developers. Yeah. They're, they're not going to be the onesclicking on your display ads necessarily, but I do definitely, obviously thinkof them as a critical persona to us.
[00:08:12] So you have, you have that element of it, butthen I think from an inbound perspective, you want to arm your sales team. Withas many different use cases as you can, because it is a platform there's somany different directions that people are going to want to go. And you want tomake sure that when a customer comes to them, they know where they can go toget the resources, to actually help that customer through that scenario.
[00:08:32] So I think of it as a push and pull mechanism,you want to put your energy behind two to three personas that you can reallyput a good amount of resources behind, and then you want to use a pullmechanism so that you're ready for anyone who comes to you because as Twilio,because we can help so many different.
[00:08:47] Types of companies and so many differentdepartments within an organization. You know, you want to arm your sales repwith as much of that content and enablement to help those customers too.
[00:08:55] Ian Faison: Soto build this machine, is that content, those things are those created insidedemand gen or external to demand gen
[00:09:01] Sara Varni: it'sactually the bulk of the content is actually created outside of demand.
[00:09:05] Gen. We have a huge content engine and ourdeveloper evangelists. And, you know, they're always trying to identify thatintersection of market relevance and Twilio relevance. So for example, rightnow in the wake of COVID. WhatsApp is a super popular channel that people aretrying to get their arms around and are really accelerating their roadmaps on.
[00:09:22] And so our developer evangelists are trying tobuild as much helpful content tutorials, how to use for our developer communityso that they can get up to speed as quickly as possible.
[00:09:32] Ian Faison: Iwant to talk about the developer evangelists cause so many people try to buildcommunities and you actually have a very vibrant one.
[00:09:38] I've been to signal and met many of them yearsago. And it really is one of the, one of the great communities it's somethinghard to do. Are your evangelists, are those folks that are like Twilioemployees? Is it folks that are external? Is it a bit of both?
[00:09:53] Sara Varni: It'sit's actually a bit of both. We, um, we definitely have a developer of Angela'screw that we've built up over the years and we try to, [00:10:00] those are,that's kind of our first foray to any region or market that we open.
[00:10:03] Like if we're going to go open France as acountry, we want to make sure that we have a developer evangelist on the groundthere, but we also really try to build upon network effects that we get out ofevangelists. That our customers as well. Uh, we have a program called Twiliochampions and that's all about highlighting and featuring the work of some ofthe great developers that are in our community.
[00:10:24] And then they go on our behalf and host events toalso, you know, share. But they've been doing with Twilio, what they'velearned, that's new about the product. And it's just a great amplifier for allof our efforts.
[00:10:35] Ian Faison: WhatI'm curious. So for those type of events, you have like the evangelists on theground, but do you have demand gen people that are like LinkedIn with thosefolks to make sure that those events are driving pipe?
[00:10:45] Or is it more like those events are a little bitsheltered and we're saying like, we're not going to put as many Gates aroundit.
[00:10:51] Sara Varni: It'sa delicate balance. I think. Stay really authentic to the developer community.And you can't walk around developer meetup with a lead scanner, for example,you're going to get kicked out.
[00:11:02] Uh, so we really try it. We think that thoseactivities more as top of funnel and brand building over the long term, andwe're less focused on how we convert that to a lead form in the short. Sothat's, again, it's a mix of that. You can't have all of your activities. Be inthat realm because at the end of the day, your sales team has a lead numberthat they need to feed their reps and to feed how many reps we have on staff.
[00:11:24] But I do think it's important over the long termto build a community that's very engaged and feels like they can safely come tothese events without having to, you know, be marketed to, or constantly beingkind of chased for some sort of sales opportunity.
[00:11:38] Ian Faison: Yeah.I mean, it's a great distinction because I think that that's part of the thing,you know, again, as someone who attended signal, for example, you want to talkabout a great blend of, of having kind of the, the safe vendor free space, asmuch as you can with a large event versus the very demand gen heavy, like, Hey,this is.
[00:11:55] This is something that we're putting effort andenergy behind, and maybe we're going to go get someone really cool [00:12:00]to talk to these people. And we're going to put money behind this because it'san ROI generating event as well. And I think people understand those twothings, but I'd imagine that your core persona is like the non developerpersonas are probably understand those things a little bit better than theecosystem build.
[00:12:16] Sara Varni: Yes,I agree.
[00:12:17] Ian Faison: Let'sgo to our playbook.
[00:12:18] Sara Varni: Thisis what's great about sports. This is what the greatest thing about sports isyou play to win the game. Hello, you play to win
[00:12:28] Ian Faison: thegame. This is our segment where we open up the playbook and talk about thetactics that go towards the strategies that we were just mentioning.
[00:12:36] So can you give me three channels or tactics thatare your uncredible budget items? The boss says budget's getting cut across theboard and you're like these three things, no matter what these are staying.
[00:12:48] Sara Varni: Weirdto say this right now, but field marketing is line that I would kind of lay onthe track score for sure.
[00:12:54] We've had to really reimagine what fieldmarketing looks like in this world. I think people have gotten, I thinkeveryone's going to come out of, COVID a much stronger marketer, cause we'vejust been forced to think about new ways to engage people, especially in thehigher segments where those dinners and those kind of networking opportunitiesand CIO councils and, you know, C level networking opportunities are reallycritical.
[00:13:15] We've had to get really creative about. Howreimagine that playing field. But I just think that there's no bettersubstitute for driving a large amount of pipeline, especially in the upperupper segments. I think another one is your investment in organic content. Andit's odd because people don't normally list that out.
[00:13:32] When you say like, what are things that you can'tcut budget wise? You know, people go to like their, you know, Google ad spend.And that might be my third. So I don't want to totally discredit Google. But Idon't know that people always include organic as a budget line item, but that'sdefinitely a resource you need to fund the team.
[00:13:49] You need to fund the writers. You need to becommitted to constantly looking at how you're performing from an SEOperspective. And, you know, we've seen in the wake of COBIT. I think we've seensome work [00:14:00] that the investment that we've made over the last coupleof years really pay off as people have started to search for things thatmight've been in the.
[00:14:06] The longer tail of our SEO criteria, but thereare things that are hyper-relevant right now. And so that investment in, youknow, making sure that we've got coverage for a broad surface area of use casesis, is really paying off and something that I want to continue to invest in.And then I think the third is.
[00:14:22] You know, I think there are some tried and truepaid channels. I think that there are, although I've been talking a lot aboutthe long game, making sure that you've got the right awareness play for thelong haul, there are very easy, low hanging fruit. Google SEM is always kind ofa go to, if you just need to, if you get, you know, an into quarter influx ofmoney, you know, that's an easy place to go and make sure that you're going tohave a guaranteed amount of SQLs in return for that.
[00:14:47] Ian Faison: I'mcurious specifically with regards to Twilio being a platform, publicly tradedcompany. I mean, your, your brand awareness amongst your personas has gotta bereally, really high, right? I mean, I'd imagine it's not like you're doinglike, Hey, what is Twilio? Those types of conversations. So I'd imagine.
[00:15:07] Specifically with regards to like content andfiguring out certain types of things that you're writing. Of course that wouldbe uncredible for you all, because these are helpful, very important thingsthat we need to write for people that are considering us. You know what I mean?It's not just like, you know who the heck are we?
[00:15:22] Sara Varni: Ithink generally we're known as a brand and increasingly, so. But I think thatpeople don't know the breadth of offering that we have. I think peoplegenerally know that we deliver SMS for Uber or Lyft or that when you getnotification reminder from your dentist or your hair salon, confirming anappointment, that's normally Twilio behind the scenes, but we have a full suiteof communications product.
[00:15:45] For pretty much everything under the sun. Soemail with our acquisition of SendGrid and video, we've had a huge influx inour video business, and that's a great example of something that's just comeinto full focus with. COVID we've seen a huge spike [00:16:00] in. The numberof telehealth companies, who've come to us for example, to deliver more ondemand, doctor appointments.
[00:16:07] And then we have products, even for things likeIOT. So within every line biker lime, scooter that you see on the street, thereis a Twilio embedded SIM card that is tracking the movement of that vehicle ortransportation device. And that's again, powered by Twilio. So while I agree, Ithink that we are a known player in the space.
[00:16:25] I don't know that people realize the full powerof what. Twilio can do for customer engagement. And that's where my team isreally focused. It's, uh, especially from organic content perspective, to makesure that when someone's trying to embed video in their app, it's obvious thatwe're a key player to do that.
[00:16:40] Ian Faison: Youmentioned the field marketing events and how those are changing and that's, youknow, your number one or top three incredible budget item. I think a lot ofpeople that felt like especially pre COVID that it's like, this is a bread andbutter thing for us. Because we know the plays, we know how to do it.
[00:16:57] And we know exactly how this builds arelationship. That's closer to sales. We know the people that attended, we knowthe topic that was discussed. We can put them in a spreadsheet and we can givethat to sales and say, go after it, as that changes to digital events, as thatchanges to different sort of things.
[00:17:12] And as sales doesn't have the, Oh, I talked toher at this event, um, which gives them that warm and fuzzy. Those thingschange. How do you think that that changes the relationship with sales todeliver that pipeline number?
[00:17:26] Sara Varni: Yeah,it's a really interesting question. I think that I have noticed, and this is nodiscredit to my sales team.
[00:17:32] We've got a great relationship and we have thementality that. We're not so hyper focused on what's marketing source inSalesforce, we are focused on what's our overall pipeline goal and how do weget to it together? But I do think just to what you said when you're not havingto meet someone at the event yourself, or get them to their seat, or, you know,introduce them to someone personally, sometimes sales feels removed from thatprocess and doesn't honestly know.
[00:17:54] How they can help to drive registration. So Ithink some of that burden in this digital world, we're removing a lot of ourface to face [00:18:00] events to digital platforms. The burden does come onmarketing to get, you know, virtual butts and seats, which is a differentdynamic. And so we're trying to think of other ways to incense sales, to havethat same level of focus and attention that they would, if they had to go showup at the Morton's down the street and, you know, shake the customer's hand.
[00:18:17] But I don't know that we've completely nailedthat down yet.
[00:18:21] Ian Faison: Well,and I think a lot of the times those events are about, you know, thesalesperson getting in the three sentences that they wanted to get in, or theone or two questions that they got to ask. And I think that that's the bigdifference. It's like a lot of these people, you know, everybody's really busyand.
[00:18:37] Sales just wants to know, like, Hey, did youknow, we have a video product, for example, that's the one question that, thatsales rep is going into that of like, Hey, we did this event. I need to meetthis person and ask them if they, if they know this so that I can getconfirmation on that. And it kind of goes back to like, What demand gen is, islike creating demand.
[00:18:55] So now as a marketing team, you have to thinkabout how do we make sure that the questions that sales wanted to know arebeing brought up in a way that we can like, acknowledge that they heard it,right. Not just that we spewed it into the ether and hope that they werelistening or whatever, like how do we get confirmation that we're gettinganswers to this so that they want to learn more about it and, you know,schedule a sales call.
[00:19:17] And that's a harder proposition.
[00:19:18] Sara Varni: Onething that I found that. Is that, especially for the executive events, you keepthem small and intimate so that you can keep better track of that conversation.And more people are engaged. I think the larger those events are the easier itis to as a participant to get distracted, check your email, do whatever.
[00:19:34] Cause you don't feel that responsibility to keepthe conversation going. You couldn't sit at a dinner table and you know, just,I mean, some people do this, but you be a lot ruder to sit there and be on yourphone. Whereas, you know, when you're, when you're. Behind a zoom screen. Areyou behind your monitor?
[00:19:48] Like you can get away with more of that. You wantto make sure that people feel the pressure, that they might be cold called onthat they're going to, you want to create a good environment, right? Like Idon't, I don't want to revisit my MBA days where I [00:20:00] was like nervous.They hadn't read the brief the day before.
[00:20:03] But it's much easier for people to check out ofthese things. And so you have to think about ways to constantly keep themengaged. Think about ways to you need a good moderator too, for these to makesure that they're not letting anyone person monopolize the conversation. And soI think that you can't just lift and shift the environment that you used inface to face events and programs.
[00:20:22] You've really got to think about how you createthe most engaging, you know, digital experience.
[00:20:27] Ian Faison: Yeah.One of the things that specifically with those like small batch events, I thinkthat a lot of marketers often miss is like trying to control the narrative somuch and not leave the serendipity. I think a lot of marketers don't realizethat, especially if they're marketing to like senior leaders, They're doingthis anyways, they have private chat groups.
[00:20:48] They have private groups of meetings wherethey're meeting with peers already there. We're doing this during COVID whetheror not you were helping plan them or not. So to be able to plan something forthem, you need to figure out how does this thing, provide the value and be ableto stay away a little bit, but also control the conversation.
[00:21:05] Again, that's a hard thing to do.
[00:21:07] Sara Varni: Yeah,I think you basically want to be the kindling for that conversation and thenlet it take off from there. I think there's no better way. I found so muchbenefit in bringing customers and prospects together. I think some peoplehesitate from that because they're nervous that, you know, a customer is, um,gonna say the wrong thing, but more often than not, if a customer is going toattend one of your events to do that.
[00:21:28] They're going to tell them all the great thingsabout their product, why they're committed to it. And there's no better sellingvehicle than that.
[00:21:34] Ian Faison: Ifeel the exact same way. Why are people so nervous about that? I hear that allthe time. Why is that?
[00:21:39] Sara Varni: Idon't know. I think that people are nervous that the good and the bad wouldcome out.
[00:21:43] But if you think about someone that's gonna showup for an event, that's going to take time out of their personal life to comeattend an event on your behalf. And they're a decision maker. They're going tobe proud of the technology decision they made. And they're going to share thatwith. Your prospects, I think nine times out of 10, that's what happens.
[00:21:58] I've rarely seen that go the other [00:22:00]way.
[00:22:00] Ian Faison: Andeven if they do bring up something that they're not working, it's like, atleast the person has a heads up of like, Hey, this is, I'm getting the groundtruth. They said implementation would take, you know, two weeks and it took sixFYI plan that into your planning cycle.
[00:22:12] Sara Varni: Right?Exactly.
[00:22:14] Ian Faison: Andthen you're getting someone other than sales or marketing. That's telling youthose things, you know, one of the things that obviously we are. Very cognizantof here, we're sitting in the qualified.com studio and they're the sponsor ofthis podcast. But with one of the pieces being really important is obviouslyyour website because you're driving traffic and you're trying to haveconversations.
[00:22:35] And one of the things that you talked about washow. You don't want to be the sales team. That's just constantly, you know,getting back in after the event, hounding them for the 15 minute, are we a fitcall or whatever, but if that person immediately after that event is going toyour website and wants to talk to someone in real time.
[00:22:52] Like what a great opportunity now to have thatconversation in real time, rather than, you know, Hey, they have a 30 minuteblock after this meeting and they're just going to go check out the productright now. Let's talk to them on the site, you know?
[00:23:04] Sara Varni: Absolutely.I mean, I think your website is I think my website as a window into our brand,and I think that that takes different dimensions.
[00:23:11] I think it's a conversion vehicle for thescenarios you just laid out and you, someone goes to an event, they comeonline, you want to know everything you can about them so that you're engagingthem in a very contextual and appropriate way that, you know, you're nottreating them as a stranger or just sending them to some.
[00:23:26] Ebook from 2006 and getting them to, you know, gojust felt the lead form. So I think more and more, so it's really important tobuild a really engaging website, but I also think you have to make sure thatyou're not, over-rotated only on optimization of your website and also thinkingabout what purpose does it serve from a brand perspective?
[00:23:44] I think if you only had the, especially if you'remarketing to all segments, if you're just focused on SMB and your self servicemodel. Sure. You should be focused on optimization till the cows come home. Butif you are a company like Twilio that is trying to sell to all segments, youalso need to think about what are the customer stories [00:24:00] I'm tellingon my site?
[00:24:00] How does my annual user conference, if it werelive or even digital, how is that showing up on the website? And those arethings that aren't necessarily, again, going to show up in the spreadsheettomorrow, but they're super important for your brand. And if you're trying tosell to the fortune 500 and they come to your site and only see rinky dinkcompanies or, or people that they can't.
[00:24:19] Associate with that might be the only chance youget. And so I think you've got to think about, again, that balance of what'sthe longterm strategy for this property versus the short term need when itcomes to leads
[00:24:30] Ian Faison: andespecially tying those into the things that we've talked about, which is like,if we just spent all this time and effort to have this particular person.
[00:24:38] On this private six person whiskey and winedigital tasting. When they come to the site, we should know who the heck theyare and be able to talk to them and not the alternative, which is like, treatthem like an SMB customer that's coming to the site. And again, then not thatthe SMB customers is very important as well, but like what they're looking todo as a person who just found it clicking on a, on a Google ad or something,it's just a totally different thing.
[00:25:02] Sara Varni: Ithink we've had to reimagine what. Hi, tach looks like for a digital world now.And so that kind of personalization and being able to identify who's cominginto your site, where they came from is super critical and can be thedifference between them moving further down the funnel or not.
[00:25:20] Ian Faison: Doyou have a favorite demand gen campaign?
[00:25:22] And we can go back to the Salesforce days. We cantalk some Twilio stuff, whatever you want. Favorite campaigns.
[00:25:28] Sara Varni: Ithink that campaigns can serve an online purpose, but they also can serve ahuge purpose in educating your sales team. And so I, I have one campaign Ireally liked at Salesforce that a colleague of mine ran Jamie Domenici.
[00:25:39] Who's like an incredible demand gen leader andproduct marketer. And it was. It's called find win, keep. And it was basicallya way for our small business team to start solution selling. So not justselling the sales call product, but also to sell our marketing cloud product aswell as our service cloud product.
[00:25:58] And it was very simple, [00:26:00] memorable.Everyone was speaking the same language and it worked, it translated online to,was it easy message to then go and take to our digital advertising and to a lotof our content. And, you know, it's a campaign that I think. People would stillremember today within the walls of, of Salesforce and probably a language thatour SMB team still uses.
[00:26:19] And so I always think that that's a great sign ofa campaign that it's not just, you know, something that you remember online,but it's something that your sales team still recites and is really ingrainedin the way they speak about your products.
[00:26:30] Ian Faison: Iwant to jump back to the uncountable budget items for a second.
[00:26:32] Cause I forgot to ask you, what is the budgetitem that you've looked at over the past few years and said, you know what.This just doesn't really work for us.
[00:26:42] Sara Varni: Yeah.I mean, I think that, um, lead buys always sound like super good in theory, andthere are some good programs through content syndication. You have to pick theright ones, but in general, I just think anything that sounds too good to betrue is too good to be true.
[00:26:55] You know, I've often heard people like, Oh, let'sjust go buy a list or let's do whatever. And it just is a lot of calories forultimately what you get back. I think that we've kind of moved beyond that asa, as an industry and function.
[00:27:06] Ian Faison: That'stotally true. That was a great one.
[00:27:08] Sara Varni: Well,and especially in the wake of GDPR, it's much harder to even get to a list tobegin with.
[00:27:13] So that just, that whole dynamic has changed
[00:27:16] Ian Faison: moreto the point. Why DN, cuttable, budget items speak to that exact thing, right?If you're talking field marketing, you're talking original content and you'retalking Google ads. Those three things are the antithesis of a lead by, right?Yep. Any campaigns that were the biggest learning experience?
[00:27:32] Sara Varni: Ithink that, uh, one campaign that I personally ran I'll take the blame on thisone again at Salesforce was for the app exchange and it wasn't a terriblecampaign, but we hit a million installs. And so we were trying to think abouthow do we make this fun and exciting? And so. We went down this path of likethe McDonald's over a million customers served and it was cute.
[00:27:55] We had like a infographic for it, with likelayers of the hamburger and what that meant for [00:28:00] the AppExchangeecosystem and, and on and on. But it was like, Way inside baseball. Like Ithink we largely did it because the exact who was leading the team at the timewould always say, well, if you crush this, I'm taking you to McDonald's.
[00:28:12] And so it kind of became like this inside jokethat turned into an external campaign. So not my finest moment. We did get anarticle in tech crunch from this, with a picture of a hamburger that made nomention of why there was a hamburger in it. So maybe that's, you know, successto a certain extent. But, uh, you know, I think looking back, it was a littlebit hokey.
[00:28:29] Ian Faison: Youmade that tech crunch reporters day.
[00:28:31] Sara Varni: Exactly.
[00:28:32] Ian Faison: Igot something I can write hamburger and tech cells, any trends that you'reexcited about?
[00:28:38] Sara Varni: Ithink we're all gonna come out of. COVID a stronger marketers. I think thatthe, I am seeing industries being completely upended. I think when you thinkabout retail, for example, people are having to reimagine how they can.
[00:28:51] Make it through these next few quarters withouthaving all of their locations potentially open. And you have to think about howcan I replicate that experience when I walk into J crew and the lady says, Hey,how are you doing? You know, can I help you with anything today? Or, uh, youknow, the dressing room attendant says, Oh, I know you saw this shirt.
[00:29:11] Have you thought about. This, that and the other.And how can you replicate that curation, that level of customer service in thedigital world. And I think that's really exciting to think about as marketersand people focused on customer experience, uh, and you know, I'm interested tosee what happens. You can see these marriages of like, Sonic drive-throughmeets banana Republic.
[00:29:29] I think there's going to be all of these new kindof inventions that come out of the world we're living in right now. And, youknow, I'm really excited to see what people dream up.
[00:29:38] Ian Faison: I,one of the things that I've thought about that with how you communicate withpeople post sale for individual products, I think is so interesting becauselike I've bought a bunch of stuff online as everyone has during COVIDspecifically with the retail and we always buy.
[00:29:55] Products that we've already bought. Right. Soit's like, if there's a pair of, uh, whatever Arteric [00:30:00] pants, it'slike, I'm just going to buy an Arteric product. That's the same, because I knowthat that exact product fits. Right. And I think that it's so crazy. How littleyou ever get communications from retailers about the exact item that youpurchased back three years ago or four years ago or something like that whereit's like, Hey.
[00:30:19] They should know. Right. They should know that Ibought whatever Merrill's or they should know these things and I should get atext message or I should get, you know, whatever it is to say, Hey, it'sprobably time, you know, how are those shoes working out? Like, were theypretty good? Cause if you're looking for something in the exact same size,these are that, but you know, for cold weather or warm weather or whatever, Andwe don't get that.
[00:30:40] We get a million emails about like 50% off for4th of July, but we don't get those personalized messages about things that webought nearly enough. I mean, other than Amazon, which does it a lot
[00:30:51] Sara Varni: rightnow, I mean, I think personalization is key and going to be really key toconversion moving forward.
[00:31:02] You may have heard that there was a dustupinvolving yours truly. Now we've got a wild scrump with fights breaking out allover the place.
[00:31:15] Ian Faison: let'sget into our desktop segment. So the dustup is where we talk about healthytension. Whether that's with your board, your sales team, your competitors, orjust anyone else have you had a memorable dustup in your career?
[00:31:27] Sara Varni: I'mgenerally pretty even keeled. But, uh, I think I was thinking about this as wewere preparing for this session.
[00:31:34] And I laugh because by the time I leftSalesforce, I spent 11 years there. I was, I was a air quote, old timer, andsome of the new management that was coming in and was suggesting these ideasthat I was like, this will never work because I've never, I've never seen itwork at Salesforce in any time. And you should just.
[00:31:49] Give up on this and like, you know, keep down thepath. And sure. That was really frustrating to my managers at the time. But youknow, now being on the other side of Twilio, I'm in the newcomer. Right. AndI'm trying to [00:32:00] bring some of the process or, or some of the thingsthat I had learned from Salesforce.
[00:32:03] And so now I have crazy empathy for, uh, mymanagers at Salesforce, because I can see how it, it is hard to drive change incertain parts of a company that, you know, has. A really strong culture andvalue set established. So, you know, I think that, uh, I was probably like theangsty teenager at Salesforce, and now I've come around and realized I neededto have more empathy for that leadership team at the time, because I had thesame thing.
[00:32:27] Come in ahead of me.
[00:32:28] Ian Faison: It'sfunny you say that because I think so often the adage of can't be done thisway, but the reason why you say that is because you're like, no, no, we'vetried this like five different times and these different ways. I'm just tryingto save us some pain. I have all the scars to prove that this type of campaign,whatever billboard campaign won't work for this product, because we've done it.
[00:32:47] So there's a fine line. There,
[00:32:49] Sara Varni: thereis. And it should be an X you should learn from the past mistakes. And there'stons of valuable feedback that I get from existing twins, all the time ofthings I absolutely want to avoid. But I also think like you don't want to giveup on new ideas too. And I think you should always try to be pushing theenvelope and pushing the company forward.
[00:33:08] Ian Faison: Youmentioned a little bit about having the single source of truth with sales, thatwe're just, we're not going to get into the weeds about sourcing this sourcing,that sales versus marketing, all that stuff. So I'm curious, how do you getmeasured? How do you work with sales to develop that kind of single source oftruth?
[00:33:26] Sara Varni: SoI work really closely with our sales team. And one thing that I encourage,especially my demand gen team to do is to get on calls, to really get as closeto the sales process as they can so that they're not building campaigns oractivities in some ivory tower and just, you know, throwing it over the fenceand expecting sales to adopt it.
[00:33:44] So that's really key to us having a good relationship.We're not going to be like knives out about Salesforce versus marketing source.We absolutely do measure it and make it when we have targets that are veryfocused on who's contributing to what, but we also want to make sure that weare not taking away funds [00:34:00] or accelerating programs that aren'treally driving the right impact.
[00:34:03] And so we take a really close look at all right.Even though this lead might show up as sales sourced, they, uh, you know,started off by, they started off as a developer sign up and then they went tothree events and then they downloaded it for white papers and then they did X,Y, and Z. And so we try to look at the full picture of our customer to makesure that we're continually investing in the right things and not just relyingon how, you know, the last touch first touch model or anything like that toexplicitly determine how we'll spend moving forward.
[00:34:32] Ian Faison: Yeah,I think the last touch first touch is a great example of how things are changing.It's so much more, you know, we always talk about the customer journey, but itreally is a journey now. And when you have a platform like Twilio, where youtalked about so many different products and things like that, it really is ajourney because it's not just about buying one thing.
[00:34:50] It's about, Hey, what are other products thatthey could be using? So therefore, you know, Just landing that initial them asa customer, the new logo kind of mindset is not really that helpful. If youdon't have the resources behind, Hey, let's empower this person. Let's get thiscustomer story to figure out how we can tell this and how we can help themalong
[00:35:08] Sara Varni: theway.
[00:35:09] Yeah, and I think it's been, uh, back to thepersonalization being as specific as possible is going to get you further. Likeif you're talking to someone in the healthcare industry with the financialservices story, it's just going to be harder for them to relate. So to theextent that we can provide good coverage in terms of content by industry aswell, I think we've definitely seen dividends coming back there.
[00:35:29] Ian Faison: Anyother dimension, specific thoughts here or anecdotes or, or just any otherstuff before we get into our quick hit segment?
[00:35:38] Sara Varni: Uh,I mean, I think he just wanna make sure that you've got a balanced demand genteam. We didn't talk so much about how to, you know, staff, the ideal demandgen
[00:35:46] Ian Faison: team.Yeah. Let's staff.
[00:35:47] It let's do it.
[00:35:48] Sara Varni: Yeah.I mean, I think that you need people that I personally have found the people tobe most successful in demand gen and I'm probably oversimplifying and beingstereotypical, but are those that are waking up in the morning and they're[00:36:00] like, where's my lead report. Where's my, you know, media report onwhat.
[00:36:03] Been performing and just really sweat the numbersand are like hustlers when it comes to the numbers and you give them a targetand they're like a dog with a bone they're like, I am going to come hell orhigh water. I am going to figure out, you know, how to hit this. And they alsohave a good sense. For the right balance between awareness tactics and paidtactics.
[00:36:24] And they also have a hunger and curiosity to seekout new vendors. If something's not working or something's starting to leveloff, they're like, all right, who are the next five people I'm going to swap inthere? And I always try to make sure that I've got the members of my demand genteam or kind of wired for that mindset.
[00:36:38] And. Are really focused that way. And then I'dsay the second thing is obviously a desire to work really closely with sales,to, you know, treat them as a partner to spend more time potentially with thesales team than you do your marketing peers, because they're a huge stakeholderfor our work and our main stakeholder for our work.
[00:36:56] And I think it's really critical to always be intune with what they need. What's working, gain that, closing the feedback loopwith them to see what's working and what's not. And so, you know, that'sanother trait and characteristic I look for in my. Demand gen people
[00:37:09] Ian Faison: withregards to engagement, obviously with the rise of ABM engagement is it's inevery acronym to have a depth of engagement.
[00:37:17] You kind of have sometimes the folks that are thesuper analytical people that are dedicated to the spreadsheet, but thespreadsheet doesn't always tell the depth of the engagement, how that person isreally feeling at the time, which is what you kind of. Need sales to be able totalk to them out and discover those truths.
[00:37:35] How do you view demand gen and finding the rightfolks that want to build deeper engagements with prospects?
[00:37:41] Sara Varni: Ithink it's people who take responsibility for the full funnel and not just sayall right, my job is done. An MQL once the marketing qualified lead is created,I'm done. I think it's people who are also sweating.
[00:37:51] All right. Did those actually convert to sales,qualified leads and sales really think that that was a real lead. And so Ithink you need people who really take ownership. One of our values at Twilio[00:38:00] is be an owner. And I think a lot of, if I think about the makeup,my demand gen team, a lot of those people are definitely, definitely live thatvalue every day.
[00:38:07] They're thinking about all right, it's not justabout. Hitting one little square on the spreadsheet. It's how does that wholespreadsheet come together? And what's really coming out at the bottom. I couldbe generate a bunch of leads and no revenue at the end of the day. And that'snot the best thing for Twilio either.
[00:38:20] So I think having those demand gen leaders thatare entrepreneurial in nature and really think about the impact that they'redriving is how I get to that.
[00:38:28] Ian Faison: Let'sget into our quick.
[00:38:30] Sara Varni: Hits
[00:38:34] Ian Faison: thesequestions are quick, fun, silly, but they're just as quick as qualified.com. Ifyou're a prospect on your website right now, you could be talking to them inreal time, quickly qualified.com.
[00:38:46] Check them out. We love them. They're the sponsorof the show. Quick heads. Are you ready, Sarah? Number one, if you weren't aCMO, if you could be anything else, what would you be?
[00:38:53] Sara Varni: Iwould love to be a writer for like a late night television show.
[00:38:57] Ian Faison: Ooh,that's a good one. I'll join you. I'll be on staff. I'm in, do you have a hobbyor a habit that you picked up during shelter and place?
[00:39:07] Sara Varni: Oh,wow. Um, I actually have become pretty good at making cocktails. I guessprobably a few people have, I've also acquired that trait. Um, but, uh, yeah,no, I've, um, I've learned like some really random ones, like Hemingwaydaiquiri and a lot of, uh, gin gimlets and vodka gimlets and I don't know, I'vekind of got it all nailed down.
[00:39:28] Now what that says about me.
[00:39:31] Ian Faison: Doyou have a hidden talent or passion besides your craft cocktail adventures?
[00:39:35] Sara Varni: Randomlyspeaking of personalization, I got targeted with a Pogo ball ad the other dayon Instagram and three months into Kobe. I said, why not? And you know what? Istill got it. I can still do the public knowledge.
[00:39:46] I'm trying on that thing. And my 10 year old andmy six year old daughters were, uh, were super impressed. So. You never know
[00:39:54] Ian Faison: wehad, uh, my brother made a homemade Pogo ball and a homemade [00:40:00] scooterback in the day. Neither of them worked well, but it was more just mostlygetting injured, but fun while it lasted.
[00:40:07] Sara Varni: Iwant to bring the roller racer back. Do you remember those? Those were hours offun too.
[00:40:13] Ian Faison: Wealso had a homemade skip it, which was like, Literally like a ball on a string.I don't know why we had so many DIY, uh, fed
[00:40:23] Sara Varni: I'mblending the, skip it with like the get in shape girl line. Do you rememberthat? They had like a whole like fitness.
[00:40:28] I don't know. It was like pre obesity epidemic.Clearly it didn't work, but anyway,
[00:40:33] Ian Faison: skipit. In retrospect, it's basically just like one legged
[00:40:37] Sara Varni: jumprope, kind of
[00:40:38] Ian Faison: jumprope. It's actually kind of hard. I don't know. We should all bring that backto,
[00:40:42] Sara Varni: canI skip it? Jim's it's gonna be like the new, like trampoline.
[00:40:46] Ian Faison: Yeah.He said, well, it's portable. We might need to bring this back out. We'll getthe line at Caspian, skip it. And then we'll be, uh, and we'll be really rakingin the dough. You mentioned retailers, any, uh, any particular, uh, bingepurchases that you've made in shelter in place from your favorite retailer?
[00:41:02] Sara Varni: Uh,yeah, I've clearly I'm taking up whatever Instagram's putting down clearly, butI'm a big fan of worried split pants. I don't know if you've seen these. Youshould go get a pair. I bought my whole team, a pair as a shelter in place.Skift. They're just like the softest sweatpants, V U O R I, this is not asponsored placement, but they're incredible.
[00:41:22] Ian Faison: I'mmy anniversary is coming up. I will be purchasing one of these
[00:41:26] Sara Varni: shortstoo, if you feel like you're beyond the jogger season. So
[00:41:30] Ian Faison: no,we're always in the jogger season. What. Piece of advice, would you give to aCMO or a first time CML to help fix their demand gen strategy?
[00:41:41] Sara Varni: Ah,I think just, you know, get under the hood as quickly as you can go look atyour funnel top to bottom, figure out where your biggest levers are and whereyou can have the most impact and then get in front of your sales team asquickly as possible.
[00:41:54] Especially if you're not. Just a hundred percentof the self-serve model. I think you want to go out on a sales [00:42:00] call,listen to some inbound sales calls just to hear what your sales team's upagainst. And I think you'll just be, that will accelerate your learning much,much faster than almost anything you could do,
[00:42:11] Ian Faison: sir.
[00:42:11] That's it. That's all we got for today. Any finalthoughts
[00:42:13] Sara Varni: now?I just, I hope all of my colleagues in the community out there is hanging inthrough COVID. I know it's been a crazy time. It's been a crazy time to. Tolead people and I do really believe we're all gonna come out of this strongermarketers.
[00:42:27] And I look forward to seeing everyone face toface, hopefully someday soon.
[00:42:31] Ian Faison: Indeed.Thank you so much for stopping by everybody. Check out Twilio. If you haven't,they have a whole suite and really cool stuff for marketers to just go check itout. Twilio is the best. Thanks, sir.
[00:42:41] Sara Varni: Yeah.Thank you.