Behind B2B #10: Leeya Hendricks
For the tenth instalment of Behind B2B, our series exploring some of the brightest minds in the industry, we meet Leeya Hendricks – CMO at Delta Capita.
PhD candidate, value creator, digital driver and technology leader: over the last 15 years, Leeya has held a range of roles at global advisory, technology, management consulting and digital firms.
Now, as the global CMO at Delta Capita, she provides leadership and strategic direction through impactful revenue-generating initiatives and is responsible for scaling channels to generate demand and grow the business globally.
Leeya, no young child dreams of becoming a B2B marketer – what did you really want to do growing up?
When I was seven, I was really fascinated by my grandad and his band – The Young Ideas. They’d come over every Sunday and write lyrics for new songs. And I was so intrigued by this experience of writing and telling stories because their songs were always about people in the local community and their personal experiences in their day-to-day lives. So, I’d be sat there watching the whole thing. And after they’d left, I’d take my notebook out and write my own stories.
It made me quite keen to go into journalism and although that didn’t happen, my passion for writing remained.
I think a lot of marketers, especially copywriters, can recall that moment in their childhood, quietly scribbling stories in a notebook. So how did your marketing career start?
At school, I was really interested in business, economics, and art. I started off doing motion design– but I soon realised I’d never be happy sitting behind a desk trying to make a little animated ball move. And ended up studying Fine Arts, I see a lot of similarities in conveying a message through an art piece and through a visual marketing channel brand marketing was a perfect opportunity to marry my creative, strategic and people abilities I wanted to be in front of customers, connecting.
So I moved away from design into brand marketing management, and eventually in front of the customer. That’s really where I knew I could marry art with marketing strategy. I mapped out my journey and then seized those opportunities as I progressed.
Your agency life started at TBWA. How did you get your foot in the door?
As I was writing my thesis, I knew I wanted to start working in the creative industry and TBWA was one of the biggest global advertising agencies in Johannesburg at the time. And I found out that Nissan was a major client of theirs. I was already doing a part-time job with Nissan on their hot and innovative new car, the 350Z. I thought: well, it makes sense to do my thesis on Nissan and the evolution of their branding, and then I can go in and try and pitch my work to TBWA to get a job there. And that’s what I did.
I worked on a variety of different accounts to gain client industry knowledge so that I could finally make the transition from agency to client-side. In the earlier stages of your career, you really need to get experience in core areas of marketing and be kind of an m-shaped marketer, if you planned on becoming a CMO one day. So, I started off in digital, advertising, then events, brand, demand generation, sales, and PR in various roles to get a full vertical experience of marketing.
In-house, you’ve worked for some big names – IBM, Accenture, Oracle. What interested you specifically in B2B?
I always knew I wanted to be in B2B because I enjoyed the let’s-get-down-to-business clients at the agency. One of these accounts was a large financial services firm and when I’d meet with them, I’d dress up quite formally to kind of align with their environment and space. And I liked going into these presentations focused on presenting results, delivering ROI and campaign success.
Another thing I’ve always enjoyed about B2B is how targeted it can be. You can market directly to CXOs at a specific bank for example and drive a truly personalised approach. In B2B, you’ve got a very targeted customer base, where a small number of customers can generate 80% or more of your sales.
What’s been the most memorable moment in your career so far?
A few years ago, I worked on a customer campaign for the 2018 Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco. This was an annual cloud technology conference that welcomed more than 60,000 customers and partners from 175 countries – filled with really interesting people, thought leaders in business, technology, politics, science, sports and media. Lots of new ideas and collaboration; it was more of an experience than an event.
I worked on a customer innovation tour that took attendees through a five-day Oracle customer experience designed to help you connect with the company’s senior executive leaders.
So on day one, you’d be listening to Founder and CEO, now chairman and Chief Technology Officer, Larry Ellison talk about how the tech in Oracle’s next-generation cloud will make data an even more valuable asset across industries.
Then we took clients to visit the Singularity University, a global learning and innovation community where they got to witness some advanced work-in-progress technology like artificial intelligence, robotics, and digital biology.
Next, we went off to the Oracle headquarters in Redwood Shores to see Team USA 17’s Trimaran, the boat that won the America’s Cup in Valencia, Spain in 2010. Followed by lunch in a restaurant that sat on stilts in Sausalito, overlooking the San Francisco skyline and the Golden Gate Bridge.
And we finished with an innovation themed reception at the Exploratorium Pier. Every corner of the building featured illusionists, futuristic ice cream making technology and sculptures. We closed off the next day with a large music event at the San Francisco Giants baseball stadium, where we saw Sting and Gwen Stefani.
It was a big, bold idea – but it truly helped our customers come up with new insights and ideas, and really prepared them for the next technology breakthrough for their business. And that’s the thing about experiential marketing – you have to bring that sense of personal touch and leadership into your everyday interactions with your colleagues and customers. It requires you to be a brand ambassador, an event planner, a lead generator, and a relationship marketer all in one. And that campaign really did bolster a lasting connection between our customers and our brand.
That definitely sounds like an unforgettable week. And for our final question – what B2B marketing tropes would you get rid of? Or what would you encourage people to stop doing, if you could?
I find that most marketing content actually is overloaded with a list of features, but lacks the kind of tangible benefits that will help customers and their goals.
Marketers end up making content all about themselves. Writing marketing content is tricky. So you end up talking about when you were established, how many employees you have, etc. But no one cares. Focus on your customer and not your company. Speak directly to the targeted reader and provide them with exactly what they want to know, quickly. Serve and solve their problems before you start shouting about yourself.