Real-life lessons delivered in a virtual world, Leslie Henthorn
Leslie is the Vice President, Global Campaigns, and Field Marketing at Twilio Inc. She has in-depth experience in Program Management/Management and proven success in planning and implementing worldwide channel partner programs and high-impact sales training programs to support strategic business initiatives. Leslie is also a great speaker, mentor, and trainer.
Ampliz invited her to the 4th edition of the B2B Binge event as one of the keynote speakers. She shares her journey from the beginning of 2020 in the campaign management and how the sudden changes like pandemic changed the way they functioned. Leslie also shares the critical learning she and her team acquired over the period.
Here are some of the lessons:
1. Virtual reality is not a physical reality, so people may not understand your offering.
a. Content is crucial. Keep it simple, compelling, and brief.
b. Keep a check on your promotion strategy
c. Keep your target audience engaged
2. A virtual world is a self-service world, and engagement has to be reimagined.
a. Manage the weird and have a strategy for engagement
b. Deliver an experience on par with a physical event
c. Get creative leverage your technology or product
3. In a virtual world, be thoughtful, be inclusive, and be fun.
a. Think beyond business goals to the time you are engaging your audience
b. Hug the opportunity across geographies and time zones to reach new audiences
c. Reach out, partner, share and learn.
Apart from these, she shares different learning about managing teams and works virtually.
AMA with Leslie Henthorn
Q- what are the job challenges companies usually should address to have a smooth transition to the virtual world?
I think many people want to lift and shift. It is because you don’t want just to do some social networking at the end. You got to think about what you want out of that virtual event. Do what you’ve always done? I think the top challenge has been getting the folks that are used to doing physical events in a world where they can see people pick up on social cues. Hand them something, give them a handshake. Reimagining what creates an experience looks like being the top challenge. After you start, you are going to test a strategy, how you’re going to engage them, and what you’re going to do.
I think the other top challenges I’ll speak from my own experience. When when the pandemic hit, we all went digital so fast. We all started putting offers out there. Our team at Twilio, our head of digital, liked it. Our webinars, our virtual event, offers went through the roof. Everybody was doing something, and I think that the challenge that we had for a little while was taking a step back and don’t do too many things. Do things that have a bigger impact, have a more strategic target audience, and make those topics a little bit more narrow that helps. If you’re going to do an awareness event, we don’t expect much engagement. We expect q/a, but this is for people to have personal development and learn from someone in the industry who’s built diversity, learned how to get through a lot in her life, and build an amazing business. That is not an event that I would say is supposed to be engaging. So really think about what you want and don’t overflood with offers. Be strategic, target the right audience, and be cognizant of how many offers you’re putting out there.
Q- Pandemic is the new normal. What shouldn’t change for accounts for business?
I think what shouldn’t change is marketing. I think at the end of the day, we all know that you need to have a plan to prepare with time, care about your audience, and have great content. That should never change. The other thing that shouldn’t change is to build relationships. You can’t build relationships the same way in a virtual world. But you can still build relationships, and you should be thinking about that because when we look at our funnel and at what events do. We may not be the reason folks came to our company to begin with. We will expand the opportunity size by relationship building. We will partner with the sales team to find the industrial region, target vertical. Then do a great job at delivering that content in a great way. Share the best content. Don’t try to do everything. Get people engaged and then follow up with great notes. You have to care enough to see it through. Make it meaningful, and don’t just put something out there to put something out there.
Q- What is your thought on sales and marketing alignment in the virtual premise?
When covid19 happened, there was a need to take a breath. Sales are used to building relationships as well, and they do a lot in the physical world, and they rely on us to help them within the physical world. Those offers a lot, but you know when we all went through a six to eight-week transition where we were trying to figure out what that new relationship looks like. as time has gone on, I would say sales are just as strong as a partner as they’ve ever been. I think they’re seeing the value that’s coming from what we’re putting together. We see a great pipeline, things happening, but we’ve also had to learn these lessons. When you’re trying to empower the sales team with a thousand offers of generic content that does not help isn’t going to be a good partner to them. You’re not going to get the great engagement that way. So you have to lean in and say, hey trust me on this we’re going to try this. if you’ve built that relationship with them before the pandemic, it should withstand. Things were shaky just for all of us for a while, and we see great engagement. We do lean in, and we also practice what we preach. That’s one thing marketers always have to remember. When you’re building a relationship with sales, they’re your target audience to market for too. It would help if you practiced some of these virtual events offers with them. You got to show them what they look like, so they believe you and they get excited about it. Then they’ll sell it to their customers and prospects.
Q- How do you keep up effective team communication and not let them feel isolated during the pandemic?
We’ve all as leaders wanted our teams to stay strong through this time. When you’re watching your industry of physical events, your vendors, your friends, everyone losing their jobs, it can be tough, and that is a reality. So team leaders and I leaned into things that we weren’t doing.
1. We started rotating every other week best practice sharing sessions that have been huge in really talking to each other. I think there are real blessings that come out of this time for all of us is we have to lean on each other a lot more to learn quickly. I meet with my team leads every week. Now we were doing every other week or once a month at a certain time because we were all on planes going everywhere.
2. I think the other thing that I’ve leveraged the self-service reading tools like slack. We have a team slack we do an engagement challenge every week, where we’re asking each other questions. They’re not necessarily work-related. But we were maintaining once a week something fun that everyone’s getting to know each other. We’ve brought on six or seven headcounts virtually. So we want to make sure they feel included, and I got to shout out all my team leads have done fun virtual events for their teams like my executive briefing leader Marietta. She did when the lion king was all the rage. In the beginning, she did a lion king happy hour, and everyone wore lion king manes. So it’s not your typical happy hour. It’s like let’s get people out of the doldrums of being on repeated zoom meetings a day and have some fun. We did a flower arranging happy hour where we shipped flowers to folks, and then they arranged live. You have to think about bringing hope and fun at least once a month with your team. The rest will come into place. I think if you constantly communicate. I will say over-communicate everything slack, email your team, call all of them because it’s hard to take information in during this time when all we’re doing is on being on zooms all day.