Prelini Udayan-Chiechi, Zendesk’s SVP Global Digital & Regional Marketing, talks to The Ortus Club’s Marcella Tortora about the marketing opportunities that have arisen in recent years, her outlook on the future of marketing events, and the importance of compromise and collaboration in a healthy working relationship.
To watch Prelini’s interview, you can head over to our Ortus Chats interview series on YouTube. You can also listen to the interview on Spotify or pour yourself a cup of coffee and read the full interview below.
How did you end up becoming the SVP Global Digital & Regional Marketing at Zendesk?
It’s interesting. When the executive recruiter first reached out to me, I was still in my last position. I wasn’t looking to leave. This goes back 4 years. And at that point, I hadn’t really heard about Zendesk since that. Zendesk was a massive company, but I hadn’t been interacting with Zendesk itself. And then, the recruiter said, ‘They really want to talk to you.’ I remember coming to Zendesk, meeting the people, and just learning so much about the products, the solutions, where the industry was heading, and some of the great things that they were doing. I was just so inspired, and I wanted to be part of that journey. Surprisingly, after starting, when I told my friends and family and others, everyone knew who Zendesk was. And all of a sudden, on every customer support page that I was on, I kept seeing the Zendesk logo at the bottom. Zendesk was there all along. I just wasn’t looking out for the logo. But it’s just been so wonderful, and it’s been a great journey to be with Zendesk.
For those that do not know already, what does Zendesk do?
That is a great question. Zendesk is a CRM company that offers support sales and customer engagement products that are really designed to improve customer relationships. What I really love about Zendesk is its solutions that allow companies to be adaptable and agile regardless of the size, so they are able to provide a great experience to their customers, whether that’s through traditional, phone, and web channels or more upcoming messaging and social channels. And so, as an organisation, it’s really about how you improve that customer interaction and customer engagement.
What’s one piece of career advice that you have received as a marketing leader that’s been particularly valuable to you?
This is one piece of advice I’d recommend, not necessarily just as a marketing leader. I think everyone can gain from this. You’re going to have meetings, and you’re going to have discussions. Not all of them are going to go the way that you want. The most important thing, when you leave the meeting, is not about being right or wrong. It’s how the other person feels. It’s super critical for you to be able to leave that meeting with good relations intact and actually make sure both parties are comfortable with the discussion that’s taken place. So again, it’s just super important, it’s not about right or wrong but about how the other person feels when you’re leaving that meeting.
“It’s super critical for you to be able to leave that meeting with good relations intact and actually make sure both parties are comfortable with the discussion that’s taken place.”
It has been a tough year for anything event-related. As a result, do you feel that you have had fewer opportunities to market your product this year?
It’s opened up greater opportunities more than anything else. The opportunity has been in how creative and how innovative we have been as an organisation and being able to think outside the box. Now, the wonderful thing about Zendesk solutions during this time is it fits so nicely to be able to help companies provide solutions for that great support. We’re seeing a lot of companies thinking today about how to provide that, especially in the remote world, and also how to support their employees on the HR and IT side. So from a Zendesk perspective, the solutions have been right for this market that we’ve been in, and if anything, we’ve seen more of an increase in demand. But from the marketing side, it allowed us to think differently and innovatively around channels. So rather than looking at the traditional channels that we might have seen in the past—you had your digital channels, and you had your offline channels such as high-end direct mail or face-to-face channels as well—it’s allowed us to start thinking, ‘Rather than the traditional webinars or ad spend that you would do, what else could you be offering? What types of short-form content?’ We’re seeing a rise in podcasts taking place. We’re seeing more of these short video interviews. We weren’t probably seeing as much of this previously. We’re starting to see more interactive, engaging content coming out.
In your opinion, what does the future events landscape look like? Are virtual events here to stay?
Virtual events are definitely here to stay, but what we’re going to see is probably a continued evolution of those virtual events. It’s going to be a case of an amalgamation of both online and offline. So, rather than seeing events of 4,000 people in attendance, you’re going to see 4,000 probably spread across 10 different cities where you’ve got keynotes being broadcast to the different cities. Those interactive workshops, sessions, and networking throughout the day take place in those local cities as well. And I think this brings much more of an immersive experience and much more creativity as well. It removes that ability that everyone has to travel to one city to be there. There is lots of great stuff to come. I honestly believe that it’s opportunities like the pandemic and other areas when you see the best of innovative ideas come out. It opens up and paves the way for marketers today to experiment with things that they haven’t been able to and really look at new ways of doing creative marketing out there.