Transcript: Tips For Running Successful Virtual User Conferences with Cristina Seckinger

On this episode, I was joined by Cristina Seckinger, Senior Customer Marketing Manager for the Americas at Qlik. Prior to that, she was the first customer marketer at OnShape, a SaaS product development platform. Cristina shared her experience launching their user conference, OnShape Live, why they decided to go 100% live instead of simulive and how adopting a customer idea helped drive excitement prior to the event. Without further ado, here’s my conversation with Cristina. 

Margot Leong: Hey, Cristina. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast. 

Cristina Seckinger: Hey Margot. Nice to be here and congrats on your recent 50th episode. That’s pretty cool. 

Margot Leong: Thank you. That’s very kind of you to say. I cannot believe it’s been 50 episodes, but really excited to continue the conversations and have you on the show.

So yeah, thanks for coming on. The first thing, you know, we always ask here, right, is if you could give us that 30,000 foot view of your background and journey to what type of role you’re doing now. 

Cristina Seckinger: Yeah. As I think about it, it’s like I’ve always worked with customers, right, from way back in the day of waiting tables and college and selling ski lessons and stuff like that. And I worked in publishing at Conde Nast and then moved on to sports marketing and sponsor relations with World Cup Soccer, and then at ESPN International. So it’s been a long journey of working with customers and most recently I’ve been in the software as a service space. So first in customer success, and then finally in the first customer marketing role for OnShape. 

Margot Leong: Talk to me a little bit about that evolution. What was the catalyst to sort of end up going into customer marketing? 

Cristina Seckinger: Yeah, good question. So I started OnShape after taking a break to raise my kids. So I was getting back into the workforce. And so I did a bunch of things at OnShape everything from starting off part-time as an office manager and brushing back up on my skills and eventually moved into customer success, which was a better use of my skills. I think, going back to what I had been doing in my earlier career. And once we had enough customers that it warranted having a customer marketer, I had been eyeing that role for a long time.

So it just made sense to happen there and having known the customers from customer success made it that much easier. 

Margot Leong: Oh, yeah, absolutely. I can imagine because you were already building those relationships at that deep level from a success perspective, and then transferring into customer marketing, you’re able to be like, oh, you know, actually I’ve got customers that I can already draw upon and that I built those relationships with.

Cristina Seckinger: No, that’s exactly right. And back, you know, when you start with a startup, actually today is my seven year anniversary. I started exactly seven years ago today when we just launched beta. So I really did know the very first customers at Onshape. So it was exciting to kind of grow with them back when our functionality was limited and they were still loyal to us, even though we weren’t fully, fully baked. And to now where we’re really spreading our wings and have a huge customer base. 

Margot Leong: Out of curiosity, how many employees are you guys currently at OnShape? 

Cristina Seckinger: Oh, that’s a good question. So when I started, we were 50 and then we were acquired by PTC in November of 2019. And I think at that time we were just under 200 and we’ve been growing by leaps and bounds. So, gosh, I couldn’t give you an official number, but it’s gotta be closer to 350 by now. 

Margot Leong: So this is really interesting because oftentimes customer marketing is often brought into a company at a later stage. So you and I are actually both at similar types of companies, I’m currently at a company that’s around the less than 50 person mark. And you said you started at Onshape when they were about 50. And so it’s interesting to be at a company where the focus on the customer can start that early. And that customer marketing can come in almost as like a natural evolution of building those relationships with customers. 

Because I find that here at my current role where I’m thinking through all of marketing, one of the things I absolutely knew I wanted to do and of course was very comfortable with, for me was okay. Like I want to talk to every customer. I want to talk to as many users as possible, but especially when we’re this early and this few employees, so that we’re nurturing those relationships. And they’re kind of seeing you more as friends versus coming in much later, having to retroactively build those relationships and then making asks. So I imagine it was actually something quite similar for you. 

Cristina Seckinger: Yeah, no, I agree. That’s a good way of putting it. I think we kind of viewed ourselves as partners, right? So we would focus on the customer from a very early stage and we really needed their feedback. So our founders, John Hirschtick, who’s been in this space for many, many years. We work in CAD, we’re the first software as a service CAD and product development platform, but he’d been in this space for a long time and had always been very customer centric.

So getting that feedback from the very beginning as we develop the product was crucial. So we always had a lot of customers working with us in the UX and we had forums and interviewed them and went onsite to visit them. So that was kind of in our DNA. And as he always said, everyone works for a customer here, right? Whether you’re in R&D or UX or sales, we all work for the customer. So that was kind of baked in from the very beginning which made it kind of easy. I think they always knew that they would have this role and that it would be very important to them just as soon as they had the customers to make it worthwhile.

Margot Leong: Absolutely. And so moving from success into the customer marketing role, the first customer marketer, and I’m assuming you didn’t necessarily have a ton of experience with customer marketing before you started, like pretty much most of us that joined this profession.

I’m curious, like, you have a massive sort of green field, right? There’s probably plenty of things you could conquer. How did you decide what to focus on as a first customer marketer, based off of what the company priorities were at the time. 

Cristina Seckinger: It’s funny you say green field and it feels like, you know, as a puppy running through the field, it’s easy to look for squirrels, right? Like squirrel, squirrel. I want to do this. I want to do that. And there was so much that needed to be done. So, and at the time we were a really small department. We only had six marketers. Now we’re up to 20. So it’s a totally new ball game in terms of who can do what, but at the beginning I really just wanted to focus on customers and I wanted to get an ambassador program up and running because we had this huge devoted fan base and they were already referring us and saying good things about us and everything.

So we just kind of wanted to reward them and make sure that we were capturing their voices, not just for our internal product development, but also just so that it was infused throughout all of our marketing materials, along every stage of the customer life cycle so that our potential customers could hear the success of our customers, right. We started on that, while also doing a million other things, third-party review sites and making sure first though that the customer engagement activities were our first goal.

Margot Leong: Got it. That ambassador program. Did you guys have a name for that, by the way?

Cristina Seckinger: Oh, it’s very unique. It’s called the Onshape Ambassador program. It’s so funny. Like one of our other founders, John McElhaney, he always says, like, just keep it simple, right? Like why call it some name that people have to second guess what it is, call it something that everybody knows exactly what it is and you don’t have to explain it. So a lot of what we do is named very simply, but just for that reason, 

Margot Leong: I’ve launched a few of these myself and I’ve always struggled with some of those, like the naming conventions in B2B, because you can take it to a different place. You call it based off of like a play on, you know, OnShapers or something like that, but then I always think of you’re on that fine line in B2B sometimes where it’s so dependent on the audience too. And like what they would be receptive to. Like, some people are totally fine to say like, I am part of this program with this interesting name. It is very dependent on the audience persona and also what the brand voice is and all of that. 

Cristina Seckinger: A hundred percent, a hundred percent. And you kind of read my mind cause I work with mechanical engineers, so they’re a very logical set. They can have fun, certainly, but in some ways, just keeping things very clear and delineated is important. 

Margot Leong: I know the area that we really wanted to focus on for today was talking about Onshape Live, which is the virtual user conference that you and your team put together. And so I’d love to really dive into that. And I know if I remember correctly, did you just finish up your second OnShape Live? 

Cristina Seckinger: I did, last week. Time is a blur for me right now, but yes, we had our second one that was a big hit and we’re all looking forward to going to the beach one day.

Margot Leong: Yeah, that’s amazing. And how amazing that it sort of you said that this was your seven year anniversary, is it today? Or like that it coincided with that as well. 

Cristina Seckinger: No, it’s like the perfect storm. 

Margot Leong: This is going to be great because for all the topics we’ve covered on the podcast, we actually have not yet delved into some of the inner workings of running a virtual user conference. And it’s not something I actually have taken on myself. So this is relatively new to me. I’m just in awe of all of the work and the logistics and the thoughtfulness and the intentionality to make something like this really come together. 

Cristina Seckinger: Yeah. So exactly what you said and I think it’s funny, like you’re as qualified as I was to run the Onshape Live event, actually, really, because I had done like you, I’d done a lot of events in my past life and through sports marketing and stuff. And so I had a general sense of what was needed, but this was a little bit different. I’d never certainly done one virtually. And it kind of grew up out cause we had a user group network. But when COVID hit, Richard Doyle, who’s the coordinator who works on my team for the user groups. He had to pivot to virtual which at first was a bummer cause he really likes to be in person. And as he says, shake a hand. 

 But it turned out to be a really good thing because we were able to really include more people from different time zones and our customers were able to kind of network more broadly. So I was brainstorming with a few people and we kind of were thinking, how fun would it be to have a mega user group meeting? And so before we knew it, that kind of morphed into, oh, I guess it’s time to have our first virtual conference. 

Margot Leong: Got it. And for context, you guys were already running user groups prior to that where these virtual or? 

Cristina Seckinger: Well, it started as regional and in person. And so they were kind of just getting going, they’d been around for about a year or two.

And so when COVID, and it happened to coincide right as we got acquired and we moved into this beautiful building, PTCs headquarters in Boston. And then two months later their main event, Live Works was canceled as we watched them all kind of domino effects be canceled. So we knew from the get-go that, whatever we did it wasn’t going to be in person. It was going to have to be virtual. 

Margot Leong: How did you guys think about what would be some of the goals, right? Like how would we be able to justify, you know, because it’s not a small amount of work. How do we justify the ROI or why something like this should exist for the company. 

Cristina Seckinger: Yeah, well, sometimes ignorance is bliss, right? You’re thinking it’s going to be one thing and your budget doubles and it’s become something else. But no, I mean, our founders, they ran a company that had very successful giant live conferences. And so this wasn’t their first rodeo, for sure. So again, being very customer centric for me, it was like, this is a user event. I don’t want any demand gen people messing with it. I want it really to be the one thing. So much of what we do, particularly in an early stage startup is demand gen, right? 

So this was really like, let’s celebrate our users that we actually have and do things that they want to hear about and see about and can contribute to. So that was kind of our guiding principle from the beginning. 

Margot Leong: Got it. So user centric really as a way to generate that continued customer love, essentially. 

Cristina Seckinger: Yeah, exactly. And I just felt like, as a first customer marketer, we didn’t do a ton of engagement activities with them outside of you know, UX testing and user groups. We were always in contact with them, but we just kind of wanted to celebrate them. So we agreed on a general format and first things is you need to get your executive buy-in. And that was super easy because our founders were big proponents of this sort of thing. 

And then we had to work with R&D and tech services to really work on content. But content really was driven by customers again, it’s like, I think I know what customers want, but who do you really need to ask, but your customers. So I turned to all my customers and I asked them what kind of content they’d be interested in seeing. And we kind of took it from there. 

Margot Leong: When you reached out to your customers to get the pulse there, was there anything that surprised you about what they’re interested in or any interesting sort of learnings there? 

Cristina Seckinger: Yeah, good question. I mean, they had an experience that they were probably anticipating based on previous companies’ products they had used that were similar to ours. So there was a general format that we knew we kind of had to adhere to and mostly fun things like tips and tricks. So things that people can really learn and walk away knowing how to use our product better. And also of course, the sneak peek so people want to know what’s ahead in your roadmap, right? So because we were developing so quickly, they’re always wondering what’s next. So that’s a big draw. So those are things that we knew we had to have. 

Other than that, like just having the customers involved in the process. And also as presenters was really important, you know, customers want to hear from other customers that are using it and how they use it. They don’t want to hear from sales, and marketing right. So making sure that as many sessions as possible really featured a customer and a customer story, it became really clear after talking to our customers that yes, in fact, they really did want to see that. 

Many customers are keen for the kind of thought leadership and they’re good at using our product and they want to show it off. Of course, there’s always a behind the scenes sales or marketing desire to have logos that are widely recognized. So that people, you don’t have to spend any time explaining who uses it. Right? So we all suffer with that. Some of our customers use our product and they consider it their secret weapon. So they’re in stealth mode and they don’t want anyone to know that we use it because they think it’s to their advantage.

So you just have to work with what you got, the people who are good presenters and like to present who hopefully have a product that is easily relatable. People recognize it and understand what it does. They’re willing to share their models with us.

Margot Leong: And so talk to me a little bit about the process of actually like working together cross-functionally to pull off something this huge. Were you the one sort of also having to project manage it? You know, especially still like, considering the company at the time is not a massive company. Right? So the resources that you’re drawing from, they’re there, but there’s just a lot of work involved. I’m curious about like all of this and herding cats and all that.

Cristina Seckinger: That’s exactly what it is. And it’s just as messy as you think it might be except times two. Right? So you’re like, oh, this is going to be a lot of work. And then you get into it. And you’re like, wow, it’s really a lot of work because like I was the only one running it until I put my foot down and we got an amazing event contractor. She’d done this for big events for many, many years. So I got her for the last 10 or 12 weeks of the program. And she really helped me with the platform we were using, but all the little things from like, oh, you need graphics in a million different sizes for promotion and for putting on the site. And how do you coordinate that with your graphics department too?

You need all the content to be written with your R&D and you’re on a schedule. You have a really great production team in-house at PTC. They’re amazing. They put on live TV shows. So but they had a really strict schedule for when they needed all the scripts and and the graphics and, so it’s just kind of exactly what you said. It’s herding cats. I’m organized, but I’m not like crazy organized if you ask anyone I work with. So it’s kind of you just have to keep all those balls in the air and remember to do everything simultaneously at once. Eventually, you don’t really have time to think about it. It just kind of all happens. And there you go, you have an event. 

Margot Leong: And you know, recently had the second event that you guys did, right? The second virtual conference. Was there anything that you did differently this time around in terms of working cross-functionally with everyone. I imagine you also had more help this time, right? 

Cristina Seckinger: Yeah. So this time it was kind of a different ball game. We somehow, strangely, we still got off to a late start, even though, you know, you start planning the day after event for the next one. And it’s still somehow, you’d get behind the ball, but yes, we had whole lot of people. I have a new boss who’s the head of product marketing and so she was heavily involved in the content side of it. We have a new demand generation senior director who really made sure that all of that side of it plus the promotions was on target. So we hired Carrie again, cause I can’t imagine doing a project without her. So it was a much more smooth running machine plus we had the lessons learned from last year, right. 

So we really took good notes on what worked and what didn’t work. This year we were able to expand it a little bit, so we had sessions and tracks that were a little bit more focused on professional level versus education and students. So we had a lot more content, I guess. We just were able to work again with the production team who, when we did it our first year, it was the first time they’d ever done it and in the meantime, they’ve done a few more like this with other products at PTC. So they had a lot more lessons learned. So it was definitely less stressful, but suddenly you had six people still working for months on this thing. So it’s no small feat. 

Margot Leong: And what were the teams that you had to pull in from the beginning to help out with this? So you mentioned product marketing, demand gen, content. I’m assuming product from a roadmap standpoint. Any others? 

Cristina Seckinger: Yeah, so marketing and, you know it was kind of owned by marketing, but obviously customer success is highly involved. I worked with them all the time anyway, so helping to identify customers and also come up with some of the content that they thought that would be useful. We had a panel on customers helping explain how they got our product introduced in to their companies, for instance. So we’re trying to find a good mix of people to do that. So customer success is involved certainly our product manager, I always assign kind of a technical lead because I’m no engineer. So we have someone who really makes sure that all of the content is legit and cool and interesting, and accurate. We had about 15 presenters, so they all had to get their work done and they’re all professionals, they’ve done this before. It’s not hard to get them to do it. It’s just a matter of really scheduling all the meetings. 

And I think one of the hardest things as a event planner or whatever you want to call what we do is making it super clear for everyone what exactly is expected of them and when and how they want to do it. Right? Because if you have somebody who’s coming and is going to do a live presentation for you, you don’t want any nerves around, like what zoom link do I use or what time, or what am I wearing? All those little tiny details start to become really important and shipping them equipment like for the green screen and proper cameras and mikes. And the presenters all had matching shirts and virtual backgrounds and all those little things just kind of contribute to making not only it be a attractive event, but just people feeling comfortable and like they know what they’re doing. 

Margot Leong: That’s massive even just making sure the presenters, including customers, I’m assuming like have the similar backgrounds and matching shirts, right? 

Cristina Seckinger: Yeah. We don’t require it of our customers. They can wear their own logos, but yeah, we do have a virtual background that they can choose from and somebody in graphics department had to do it and somebody had to approve it and then you had to get it to all those people and we had customers from around the world. So trying to ship them equipment was a bit of a headache so in that sense we have some great admin that helped with us. Our sales team really helped with the ones that have a good relationship with the customers or were leading some of the sessions. So they helped. So it was an all hands on deck thing. So as much as you can kind of organize it and assign tasks and duties to people, I’m lucky that Onshape is a really close knit family and so people jump in where they need. 

Margot Leong: That’s fantastic. That makes things a lot easier, even if some of the logistics are sometimes harder, like the intentionality and having the support of the team is even more valuable in cases like that. 

 Something that we wanted to talk about as well as this was a live, not a simulive event. Talk to me about why you guys felt that that was really important because I know that quite a few events now, they do more of a simulive approach, which has the pro of being able to record everything in advance and then just kind of stitch it together. But talk to me why you felt it was valuable to do something that was truly live. 

Cristina Seckinger: Well, you know, go bigger home. So it was one of those, like why be mildly stressed when you can be super stressed? So I think our product is really unique in that we are the only SaaS based CAD product, so we always do our demos live. We have communication built in and real-time data management and all that sort of stuff. So whenever we show our product to anyone, it’s always a live event, we have three week sprint cycles and so when we push new functionality, it just appears seamlessly. So we’re very psyched that we can do these things live and that often it’s more valuable that way. So it was kind of the founders. We all kind of said, like, it’s gotta be live. There’s no way we’re going to do it simulive. And production team pushed back, like no way you’re not going to do that.

Yep. We’re going to do that. And then platform pushed back, like really, are you sure? Everyone else does it simulive like, Nope, we’re going to do live. So with a lot of pressure, we got it that way and it does make it a lot more fun. I mean, the keynotes with the PTC CEO, Jim Heppelmann and the head of Onshape, Sean. Those are live in studio. And in fact, if you looked at last week’s event, there was a nanosecond. It was just about two seconds when Jim’s teleprompter went down and he kind of had the sideways glance. And I was like, oh no, this is going to be it. We’ll never be allowed to do it live again, but it went smooth. We figured it out and all as well. So there’s no real good reason except that it’s kind of just our thing. 

Margot Leong: So it was already embedded in the company DNA. I’m curious, right? I can see one aspect that’s advantageous, which is that it allows you to pivot or change or tweak things maybe on the fly, even if there’s slight depending on maybe feedback from the audience or like the direction of the wind that you’re like feeling. Was that helpful? 

Cristina Seckinger: Yeah. I mean, certainly that’s super helpful in any live demo, right? You can pivot easy. You know, these scripts, they are scripted. We do have an idea because we have to put together all the slide decks. We have a professional who does all the most beautiful slide decks and because production keeps it to the minute, right. So they kind of have timed it very carefully so we can’t go off script too much, but it does allow us to react in the Q&A channels as people are talking about it and certainly in the Q&A afterwards to address some of those things, but really in a live event like this, we can’t pivot like we could in a demo just because of the timing of it all. 

Margot Leong: Yeah, absolutely. I do imagine that the energy would feel different in the live versus simulive, even if it’s just like the internal team, just know that this is happening. I wonder if that energy that transmits is more heightened because this is live. 

Cristina Seckinger: Oh a hundred percent. I mean, I sat in a conference room, we broadcast in a conference room and I’m always kind of running around between the production and some of that and making sure the hair and makeup and just kind of being a coordinator that way. But when it’s live and running, I sat in a conference room. The founder was there and some marketing people were there and some people are just kind of coming in and out, and they were really reacting to the Q&A and the chats and you hear so much particularly sitting next to John, where you just hear all this history about this, that, and the other, and he recognizes customers and what they do.

And, that part’s just, you can’t capture that. In a simulive, I don’t know if people would even show up, so that kind of stuff, that’s just, again, that goes back to our DNA and that is what is so energizing about our product and our team. So, yeah, I wouldn’t do it any other way.

I’m sure the production team and the platform, everybody else would love for us to go simulive, but I can’t imagine that we’d do that. 

Margot Leong: Then do your customers know that it’s live basically, like was that something that you guys emphasize? 

Cristina Seckinger: I mean, it’s called OnShape Live, so we hope they believe us. Again, keep it simple, right, back to the naming convention. I mean, that was one of those ones that you sit around a conference room and you come up with a million different ideas and it goes back to just call it what it is, you know? 

Margot Leong: Onshape Ongoing. 

Cristina Seckinger: Exactly. Onshape potentially disastrous live show. 

Margot Leong: The value of live, we’re talking about some of these pieces is also you know, very valuable in the sense that your customers know it’s truly live, right. It sounds like there’s opportunities almost, depending on how you structure the schedule for there to actively respond, not even in just the Q&A channels that are text-based communication. But if there’s like a break or a check-in where the CEO or whomever comes on and is like, thank you so much to everybody who’s been saying stuff in the chats, you, John, like, and you were one of our earliest customers and like, you to almost reiterate, right, to people that we’re taking this very seriously and to give those live shout outs, that is really valuable and a way to take advantage of the live piece. 

Cristina Seckinger: No, you’re right. And Margot, you are a marketer at heart because you keep hitting the nail on the head with these things. I think that’s just right. And sitting with John at those meetings, one of our presenters was literally one of our very, very first customers. He had tested us in beta and he was one of the presenters. And John was right there on chat saying like Julian bell, he is one of our very first customers, you know, and people are responding like, Hey, I was number two.

And you know, it’s a, it’s a very interactive thing, but it’s also very genuine, it comes off the cuff. It comes as it’s happening and because John and the rest of the team because of him are so into the customers, there’s just a true excitement. You know, he would see someone pop in and be like, oh my God so-and-so is on here. This is great. Oh my gosh, look at these people. So it’s a ton of fun and I don’t, that just wouldn’t feel that way if it were prerecorded. 

Margot Leong: I love seeing all of that stuff come together and it’s definitely like a testament to the work that all of these customer facing teams do, because all of that is built on that foundation of the work that you guys do. Like, I would probably be like weeping, you know, or like, tears in my eyes, like, wow, these like beautiful connections and everyone just being really excited to see that come to fruition in a way that you could not even plan for where are just talking naturally with each other and how excited they are. Like, you can’t ask for anything better, you know? 

Cristina Seckinger: No, and that’s truly why from the very beginning, it was like, this is a customer event, right? This is for them. And so if they see each other and they’re networking on the chat channel and some of my ambassadors were on there and they just get all super pumped up. I have a slack channel for ambassadors afterwards, and people are kind of cheering them on in the slack channels. Like so-and-so hit it out of the park. All of that stuff. I mean, that’s what community is all about. Right. And if you’re like me, an extrovert, and you like to be around people in the community, that spontaneous, natural, whatever you want to call it, product love, I guess. That’s why we do it.

Margot Leong: Yes, absolutely. And something that you had mentioned earlier as well in our pre-call was this design competition that I think had come about because a customer had suggested it and then almost like a way of generating more awareness for the event amongst customers, but tell me a little bit about how that came about and how that was valuable.

Cristina Seckinger: Yeah, so that’s kind of a no brainer. You know, a design competition is a big part of CAD, right? So all these people design really cool products and they like to show them off. So maybe because it was a party of me trying to get this event going for the first time, I didn’t really think about it. And we have a forum through our product, I think it was Eduardo Magdalena out of Spain was like, Hey, this is great, but where’s the design competition and you’re like, oh God, how can we forget that? So we hustled and the education team who runs these design competitions a lot hustled and put one together. And you know, certainly it builds excitement for the people who are into product design and they get to do things. They have a brief that they follow and and they come up with super creative stuff and so showing that off and then being rewarded for it is fun. 

And our content director. He was kind of joking. He’s like, yeah, it’d be really cool. If we gave one of those old style wrestling belts as a prize and so sure enough, I don’t know where or how, but suddenly this giant wrestling belt appears. And, that was the winning thing. So fun things can come out of the spontaneity of it all. And that’s the fun of being a startup and being agile and being able to respond quickly, right. So the design competition. Yeah. We have different levels for pro versus student and they have a brief and then we get to show it at the end of the event, we show all the best designs and announce a winner and it’s really fun. 

Last year, there was a group in Spain that won, and they were live streaming and they were screaming and jumping up and down and they were on social media and they couldn’t believe it. And that was so cool. I don’t think we tell the winners before they win, so we don’t really have them lined up to be live, but we do have podcasts and things that we feature their work after the event on different media. I have to find that video. I should just look at it every morning as I’m getting dressed. Remember why I get up in the morning. It’s like just unbridled joy and to be the first winner too. 

Margot Leong: Absolutely. And so you talked about how ignorance is bliss, right? And when you guys started this, basically like it was the first time, right? There’s always all sorts of learnings that come out of this. But, you know, I know that you had told me previously that this ended up becoming your biggest demand gen event. So I’m curious, tell me about that aspect of it. How did that end up happening? 

Cristina Seckinger: Of course it should be a demand gen event, but again, because we were a small team and it was our first time, we did things, like we had Salesforce campaigns and stuff, and we know when, who, who people attend and we score them and BDRs get ahold of their names and stuff like that. And we just track who we got through Onshape Live and lo and behold, we got a lot of people. And I think that’s partly because sales and customer marketing would help with prospects, letting them know that this event was happening. If they wanted to hear more from customers about our product, that it would be a good source.

And then of course the on-demand portion and you can continue to send cool clips and stuff like that to your prospect. So I guess it’s no surprise really that it became one, but it certainly wasn’t on my mind as the in the weeds event coordinator customer marketer. I wasn’t super focused on demand gen. And again, because we had such a small team. 

This time, we have a big team. We have a rockstar demand gen person and so that was all super carefully coordinated and well done. And I suspect it will be an even better event this year, but again, that’s not the real purpose. It’s a happy side effect and of course, I’m sure someone in the upstairs offices would say like, well, it has to bring in more money than it spends, blah, blah, blah. But really the heart of the event is to please our users, not get new customers. 

Margot Leong: Yeah, absolutely. And so did you guys do a post-mortem after the first one and get feedback from the people that attended on the event as well, and use that to sort of inform how you guys thought about the next one?

Cristina Seckinger: Yeah, for sure. I mean, I think we continue to learn, like, I think one of the rules should be like, no one can take the day after an event off as much as you want to. That’s the day that all the execs want to know exactly what the numbers are. So you can’t let your numbers person be off that day. 

So yeah, one of the things we certainly do is collect surveys at the end of every session as to whether or not the content was good and the presenters are good and if you are going to be able to use this learnings in your work in the year ahead. So we take those pretty seriously. We measure them out. We certainly look at the events that had the highest attendance and had the highest ratings and that’ll help guide us next year as to what content we want to do. And then post-mortem sure, I mean, we should probably be doing more than we do, but we do meet with the production team and go over a few things.

And usually they’re all pretty obvious to me. We kind of have an ongoing lessons learned documents that they were all adding to throughout the event. So I think we’re pretty good about incorporating those lessons learned.

Margot Leong: If there were someone who reached out to you and said, Hey, like I’d like to try running this for the first time at my company. Are there any tips that you would give them outside of the things that you mentioned already? 

Cristina Seckinger: I mean, first ask for a raise. Don’t say yes until you get a raise, no matter, no matter how giving and altruistic you are, you need a raise. And you know, one of the things that we didn’t touch on is the platform really matters too, and so that’s a huge endeavor and I’m not a technical person, so I had to really rely on my colleagues who knew this stuff better to get the right platform. I’m not sure we ended up with the right one, frankly, you know, like I think we might revisit that and so all these little things. Like you really do need to depend on the expertise of your peers, back to that whole cross-functional thing. But yeah, I’m absolutely willing to help anyone who is foolish enough to think that they want to do this. 

Margot Leong: Well, Christina, this was such a wonderful conversation. I really appreciate you getting deep into some of these things and this is fantastic so you know, if anyone wants to connect with you or pick your brain about anything else that you’re working on, what’s the best place for them to find you? 

Cristina Seckinger: Oh, yeah. LinkedIn for sure. I’m on there a lot and happy to answer any questions.

Margot Leong: Perfect. Well, I will put your info into the show notes so people can reach out, but thank you for coming on. 

Cristina Seckinger: Thanks, Margot. I love listening to you so it’s fun to be able to talk to you live. Keep up the good work. Here’s to 50 more. 

Margot Leong: Thanks, Cristina.

Thanks for tuning into this episode of Beating The Drum. For more interviews with advocacy leaders and tips on creating customers that will sing your praises, head on over to our website, If you enjoyed today’s show, please subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts and don’t forget to rate and review us. If you know someone that would be a great fit for the show, I would love to hear about it. You can reach out at Take care, everybody. 



Related Posts