Rajesh Kumar, the Vice President of Marketing at UiPath talks to The Ortus Club’s Lorna Davidson about new marketing opportunities, career advice, and the blurring lines between sales and marketing.
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First of all, tell us about your company. What does UiPath do?
UiPath is a very interesting company. It was started by a group of engineers from Romania in 2005 who invented this new technology that replicates how humans work on computers and take over routine work.
The technology came into the commercial launch stage around 2015 and has grown phenomenally since then. It’s a very interesting technology since it removes the drudgery of workers and allows them to do their best in terms of their creativity, empathy, understanding, and so on.
What is your role there and what are you focusing on right now?
My role is to look after marketing for India and South Asia – that’s one of the regions that we have. I joined this company about two and a half years ago in Singapore and then I moved to India. I look after all aspects of marketing. That’s the beauty of working in a startup as well, you can practically do anything that you like. That includes raising awareness of us as an industry, raising awareness about UiPath as a leader in the industry, and connecting with different stakeholders in the ecosystem such thought leaders, influencers, industry regulatory bodies and analysts. It also includes reaching out to our customers and partners to help educate them on our software and help them buy this for driving more efficiency and effectiveness and competitiveness in their businesses.
Can you talk about your most successful communication strategy for building brand awareness?
When I joined the organization, the core of my job was to make sure enough people know about us. We were not really the first in the field. There were the people who were playing here before us. Back then, I realized that not enough people knew very well about the industry. There was a high level of interest but not enough understanding. So we took the route of industry leadership to partnering with independent research firms and knowledge companies in order to create content around the role of this industry in driving their business forward. That seemed to interest people. There’s a lot of interest in raising awareness about the industry as well. Our role in bringing that knowledge together positioned us well where people and decision makers started coming to us to find more about it. They started knowing the company and that opened doors for a deeper conversation on technology with them.
Now let’s talk about marketing and events a little bit. Due to the pandemic, many marketing opportunities, especially related to events and event sponsorships, were no longer possible. As a result, what type of new opportunities are out there for b2b marketers?
When the pandemic hit, everyone’s immediate reaction was to make everything physical into digital. It was necessitated by the situation in so many ways but what works in physical doesn’t necessarily work in digital and vice versa. I think the digital platform has brought many opportunities for b2b marketers. Of course it takes away boundaries of time in many ways and definitely in geography. You could suddenly get both speakers and audience across time zones which was quite powerful. It’s also convenient for people because nobody has to travel every time. But at the same time, it misses the human context. People also go to events to meet with each other, to strike a conversation, not necessarily in the superstructure session that people miss. You don’t strike that kind of relationship unless there is contact and people meet each other.
Due to the pandemic, the need for relevance of content has come center stage. Because it’s so hard to keep people engaged when they’re online, you have to really think deeper about what content you share, and how you share it to keep people interested.
It’s quite easy for people to start doing email in another window now which usually doesn’t happen so much in a physical event when you’re sitting in a room and your attention is focused there.
In the future, I believe that a new mix will evolve for marketers. There are certain things which can be done very efficiently online and therefore, do not need operational complexity. There are things however, like human to human contact, relationship building, and having focused conversation which need a physical context. With enough research, people will gain a new perspective and will tend to focus on what each medium does best.
“In the future, I believe that a new mix will evolve for marketers. There are certain things which can be done very efficiently online and therefore, do not need operational complexity. There are things however, like human to human contact, relationship building, and having focused conversation which need a physical context.”
Do you think there are enough opportunities or as many as there used to?
To me, there’s not so much a question of are there enough opportunities? The question to me is how marketing can adapt and leverage the new situation. What’s out there is not so much of your choosing, it’s how you deal with it with the new reality if it were. Of course I think technology solutions and technology tools have grown – making so many more things possible for us to use today.
Everyone started to suddenly join webinars. Then people jumped to different formats of virtual events, but then it became too many of them and it got very hard to keep the audience interested so people started experimenting with other things. The relevance of the message and the efficiency of the format has come into focus. A lot of the account-based kind of approaches have gained prominence with this. A lot of the understanding of the audience based on intent analytics and so on has gained prominence and what format to use for which purpose.
That’s why I think that requires innovation. The boundary is blurred but what is it that’s going to make the difference and how you do it is the challenge that will continue to evolve.
Some say it’s become more important than ever for marketing and sales teams to work closely to meet company goals. Would you agree?
I think it was always very important for marketing and sales to work together. What has changed even more for sales and marketing is that sales is a contact sport. There is so much physical connection involved like meeting and knowing the client which is now either not possible or is very limited. So they had to learn new skills and look at things with a new lens.
What has changed in the landscape at least from an enterprise software perspective is, it’s no longer a big deal where you make one large deal and then you never look back. Everything is becoming a subscription so it’s more of what you do during and after which makes people see value in what you are providing to them and help them see the benefits by actually deploying them. It’s just the whole context of what sales and marketing means today. Both have evolved which opens doors for collaboration and I would say in many ways, blurring the line between what is sales and what is marketing.
What’s an event you hosted last year that you were most proud of? Why was it so good?
We did an event which we hosted globally which I thought was a really good one. We called it the reboot work festival and we did it as a global event. We usually do a large global event called “forward” which is hosted in the US and people from all over the world travel. It’s like the largest event for the automation industry. We turned it around. We made it into a festival which meant that we completely changed the look and feel of it. It was packaged like a carnival and the timing was in the November- December time frame. We created a local experience for each of the time zones and regions. A lot of the content was done locally or collaboratively and then it was packaged in such a manner that for each of the regions or timezones, it was like a local experience happening in their time zone. So they would see everything in their time zone. They will see a local host, a local field, and an adaptation of that. So I thought that was quite interesting and we got very good feedback.
What’s one piece of career advice you have received that’s been particularly valuable to you as a marketing leader?
We’re all business people or business leaders. It’s just that my craft happens to be marketing so you always hear a business hat not a functional hat. The second career advice is that whatever you do, stay close to how a business touches customers and partners, and how it makes money. The closer you are, the better you do it and the more you are relevant. Lastly, keep moving with the change.