Sara Varni
January 10, 2020

170: Scaling “Scrappy” and Growing Your Audience

Guest: Sara Varni - Chief Marketing Officer, Twilio

One of the integral questions most marketers face is: How do I expand my audience? Well, you could draw up a new campaign, make a new product—heck, you could even bite the head off a bat; Ozzy Osbourne definitely reached quite a few new people in the 80’s with that stunt. Well, maybe that last one isn’t the best idea for businesses. Anyways, an important aspect is: you have to do something that works with your brand, resonates with the people who want to use your product, and is relatively product agnostic. Now, while they may not be dining on any small nocturnal mammals, Twilio’s marketing efforts certainly capture the aforementioned guidelines, and take on a spirit of boldness and experimentation, all in the service of expanding their audience.

In this episode, Sara Varni, CMO of the cloud comms company, discusses how they’ve created marketing that they know their users will like and respond to. It ranges from gamified tutorials, to dev conferences, to sponsored hackathons at client offices and so much more. To learn more about these efforts, and the scrappy, startup-mentality that drives them, tune into this week’s episode of Renegade Thinkers Unite.

Where does brand fit into the Twilio story? Does it?

It absolutely does fit into our story. If you hear Jeff Lawson, our CEO, talk, one of his mantras is that code is creative, and that’s a huge part of who we are. We loves that the Twilio platform, and the way it’s structured, attracts people from all different walks of life. With everyone from Grammy Award nominated rappers to a magician—we have a Twilio magician, literally. Plus, all the usual developers you’d expect in an enterprise setting. Twilio really likes to attract a broad, likes to build a platform in a way that it can be useful to all types of organizations. You see that in the types of applications that end up in the hands of our users—these are extremely disruptive apps, and we love helping a huge range of disruptors innovate their communications around those apps.

I’ve heard you say that people need to earn their customers attention when it comes to your content or materials. How are you guys earning that?

 I am 100% a believer in that statement. Often, you see enterprise companies, suck you in with a catchy headline like “Transform your customer engagement experience” but then you turn the page just see “Buy Twilio!” You feel a little betrayed, like this was supposed to be helpful, to change my life! But it’s just you telling me to buy your product. A big first step in earning this privilege of having your content read, is establishing yourself as a credible source. You need to put out content that is helpful, and that is 100% product agnostic. It isn’t there to sell, it’s there to help the consumer in some way that doesn’t just boil down to buying your product.


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