Digitally Enabled Experiences
I’m pleased to have our guest, Jesse Purewal. Jesse, welcome to the show and maybe introduce yourself to the audience.
It’s a pleasure to be with you and to be on the show. Thank you for having me. I’m Jesse Purewal and I am the Head of Brand at Qualtrics. I have been a career-long brand builder and marketer, often in the seat of the advisory side of the agency part of the world with a shop called Profit. Several years here in San Francisco. Doing that before I headed over in-house to be the Head of Brand at the software company, Qualtrics, where I have been for a few years.
It’s a great company. You guys are doing some innovative stuff around experience management. The show is about the digital challenges you’ve faced. Maybe you could let us know about the biggest challenge you face, how you came onto the problem, and what was happening there.
Following canceling our signature in-person event called X4 where we bring together 20,000 people in three different cities, Salt Lake, London, and Sydney in 2020 for obvious reasons. We were forced with the need to answer the question, “How do we want to bring our audiences together to introduce our products, partners, and customers, and celebrate who we are and what we believe as a brand?
This is where the future of business content is going. We can either choose to lead it or choose to watch as someone else does.
Let’s have a 60-minute get-together here digitally and a 60-minute thing here and there digitally. We wanted to reimagine how people would experience business content. We have seen variant after variant pipe up, and mixed interest in business travel from different types of buyers and audiences. Even though we have had a ton of success getting people together on-campus at Qualtrics and in various parts of the world, what we haven’t yet seen a ton of comfort around is when we get together with 30,000 other people that I don’t know.
In that world, we asked ourselves, “How could we create a community that had the degree of energy, customer commitment, and product centricity like the old X4, but also allow people to experience our brand in new ways at scale?” Digital was going to be part of the answer for that. We decided to stand up a content platform and a community called XM+.
XM+ is if you think about where deeply relevant, timely, important business content comes together with the DNA splice of all of the things we’d see in our home lives as consumers. Whether on Spotify, HBO Max, or Disney+, where we are riveted by the emotional component of storytelling. It’s “Let’s end the trade-off between this outstanding and inspiring experience of the content we have in our whole lives in the deeply relevant business-salient stuff we see in our work lives.”
What if the experience of business content was as awesome as the content itself? What we have done at XM+ is to stand up customer testimonials, customer conversations, product videos, basic demos, as well as deep conversations with companies who have put experience at the center of their operations. People can not only read about what we do and see product tutorials about what we do but fundamentally experience what we do through the digital video storytelling mode of conveying who we are.
You are building a community around real human stories. That’s what we are trying to celebrate on the show and get out there. I wouldn’t consider you all a digital-first company. You would think everybody jumps on the bandwagon the minute they hear that concept. I got goosebumps because I’m nerding out on the community. What were the challenges, the easy parts, or the hard parts? What did you have to face when the organization said, “We have this challenge?”
Digital Experiences: As a publicly-traded enterprise, we are accountable to all of our audiences, customers, employees, and shareholders for showing results.
Even going back to last time when we were standing up the thesis of riveting relevant business content, people were saying, “Tell me what that means. What do you mean by that?” We had to make the vision reality for people by saying, “Let us talk to you and we will put together a two-by-two.” That was like the type of content, type of audience. Do you want to be upper-right and do something that hasn’t been done before?
We had to first explain what we meant by the vision and persuade people to say, “This is where the future of business content is going. We can either choose to lead it or watch as someone else does.” When we had our leadership team more convinced than not that it was the direction of business content and that we had a right to win there as an experienced company, then it was like, “How do we know this is going to be worth the investment?”
It’s something that we are doing chiefly with our brand team, but with our entire marketing team around us. Sometimes when the brand is at the center, there’s a tendency for people to go, “We don’t know how long this is going to take to pay off. We’ll get back to you in quarters or three years.” We don’t have time for that. We are a SaaS company, a software as a service company.
We have meaningful pipeline targets and revenue targets as a publicly-traded enterprise. We are accountable to all of our audiences. We are accountable to our customers, employees, and shareholders for showing results. The brand team here that I’m a part of is not a team that is standing up energy, whimsy, and flamboyance for its own sake. It’s a team that is accountable deeply to the business and to those stakeholders.
We had to be clear about how long and why we saw this payoff occurring. I was deeply involved with our head of marketing operations, who now heads up our Americas and Latin marketing organization to say, “Help me think through how we would demonstrate payoff and do the math around if we wanted to have it be this big, what does that mean in terms of the number of subscribers, repeat visitors, and registers we have to have to this platform?”
Make sure you are doing your best to build content that matters at this moment because that’s what it will take to resonate.
We are building entire demand gen motions and campaign motions, treating this brand project like a growth marketing project. The challenges were twofold. Number one, sell the vision. Number two, demonstrate the ROI. We are early days and weeks into this thing, and the results are pretty promising. I’m excited about where we are going to be able to take this over the coming months and quarters.
That’s a great vision because so many brand folks aren’t building the business case on return. It’s still the nucleus of how the marketing, advertising, or anything that’s reaching customers performs. That’s a great story for our audience because so many of them struggle to make a business case in our ROI on the brand because people don’t know how to activate it. You’ve sold a vision. You’ve got a business case. You are building this thing. Any process lookouts that you can share with the audience like organizationally, where do you have to put the oil and gears?
You have to hold an incredibly high bar as it relates to the experience of the content. Relevant content is not necessarily hard to come by. As I said in our consumer lives, inspiring content is not hard to come by. What’s hard to come by is stuff like we stood up with this franchise around irreverent, which is a look at brands that have moved the needle by pushing the status quo on experience. Where you see an eleven-minute episode about how Costco delivers an experience that both delivers on value, as well as belonging and connection. Fenty, Rihanna’s makeup brand, which closed 100 year-long experience gap is beginning to start to close that experience gap for people of color by creating makeup and other accessories that are specifically meant for people without Eurocentric features.
These are things that are hard-to-tell stories about in powerful and succinct ways. It takes a lot of iteration. It takes a deep commitment to not being 80% or 90% good but being all the way good. The cycle time that’s required for that, and the kinds of creative minds, the diversity of perspective, patience, and empathy. You have to have to go build that content while then driving people to the platform with our growth motions and our demand gen motions. I would advise everybody to make sure they are doing their level best to build content that matters at this moment because that’s what it’s going to take to resonate.
Watching you talk and hearing the story, I feel energized. I feel it in my body, it’s a human connection. I give you all the kudos for getting to that level of resonance with the audience. You are up and running. You are getting early results that are fantastic. For our audience who are focused on the digital brand, maybe even experienced for most of them, I think they are in it. They may not know it. What’s the one word you would use to classify how things are going and why?
Digital Experiences: Relevant and inspiring content is not necessarily hard to come by. What’s hard to come by are brands that have moved the needle by pushing the status quo on experience.
I can only applaud you for the progress you’ve made. It’s a great story for our audience. I want to thank you again for coming to the show. Any last comment you want to make for the audience?
I would love for everyone to check out what we are doing with XM+. It’s Qualtrics.com/XMPlus. Please take a visit. That’s about how to run your business or your brand as an experience.
You all will enjoy it. I went there myself and is informative and may be the best in class. Thanks again. Thanks, everyone, for tuning in.
About Jesse Purewal
Jesse Purewal is a builder, storyteller, and strategist who works with leaders to define their brand purpose, activate brands through modern marketing, and drive growth and impact through insight, creativity, and innovation. Over 12+ years at global marketing firm Prophet, Jesse helped to grow the firm from 70 to 450 employees and to triple the company’s revenue. At Prophet, Jesse and his teams launched transformative brands like T-Mobile’s Uncarrier, Intel’s Amazing, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, and Amazon’s Amazon Business.
Today, Jesse is the Global Head of Brand at Qualtrics, where he is building a brand around Empathy ay Scale and defining the category of Experience Management. He is also the host of the podcast Breakthrough Builders, a Qualtrics-sponsored show that invites people whose passions, perspectives, and instincts have impacted the world to share their stories. With curiosity at the forefront of every conversation, Jesse’s mission is to pave the way for inspiration that unfolds into execution.