Biz Dojo is a strong supporter of Wellington’s vibrant tech community. Each month Biz Dojo hosts a variety of fantastic events, many of which are free, all of which are high quality. Their newsletters are a constant reminder of the cool things happening in Wellington while I’m off travelling. Today’s article is a guest post from Asa Cox, who kindly obliged my FOMO and shared his notes from the Biz Dojo’s 100th Collider event.  

It was fitting that the 100th #ColliderWGTN event PR & Social Strategy for Leaders featured one of New Zealand’s largest tech successes Xero’s CEO Rod Drury

As the room filled, the Biz Dojo was buzzing in hope and expectation; at the prospect of hearing pearls of humour infused wisdom from the irrepressive Mr Drury and that permission would be granted to indulge in the amazing looking cupcakes! No one was left disappointed.

Rod served up a cocktail of advice, anecdotes and irreverence on his use of social media and how Xero benefits from his determination to maintain open and genuine communication.

He believes anyone who wants to be a visible CEO benefits greatly from social media experiences; developing thick skin, how to quickly resolve or diffuse issues and how to keep a finger on the market.

Below are 5 key points from the nights entertaining education; a quick list of dos and don’ts that every NZ CEO would be wise to absorb.

Note: At Rod’s request, the anatomical description of Snapchat use and the tale of his regrettable internal comms boob, are not reported, just fondly remembered by all in attendance.

1) Take users/customers along for the journey

  • By openly communicating the Xero story from the start, an engaged and trusting audience was built before the company launched. It also helped to set the frequency and commitment to their audience. 
  • Blogging that ensured Xero consistently ranked highly in natural rankings and differentiated from its rather dull competitors.

2) Customer experience is everything

  • By being highly accessible and visible on social media, Xero benefits from seeing early signals of customer unhappiness and rapidly responding. 
  • Customer service is offered via transparent channels, Xero integrates it into its customer experience (CX), further cementing it as the central focus of the company.
  • Focus on building visible user trust helps to weather inevitable storms causes by outages or bugs.

3) Turning social into sales

  • Be aware of balancing the budget and resources of operating inbound social media channels. Its easy to spend too much time on responding and supporting, and not enough converting interactions in sales leads.

4) Have a social engagement strategy

  • With a strategy, social media can generate benefits for companies of any size. It can build influence, credibility and engagement if used in the right way.
  • Testing social channels is essential; you need to find out where your target clients are. In NZ, SME’s are on Facebook, not Twitter. Corporates are on LinkedIn.

5) Be globally aware

  • If your company wants to attract worldwide customers or attention, be conscious to balance the positive and potential negatives of being overly Kiwi. There is potential for alienating employees and potential clients. Just be smart about it.


As it was a Q&A session, there were are few other interesting topics covered and worth of a read:

Q: Will Xero keeps its HQ in Wellington?

A: 50% of our staff are in Wellington, but it isn’t the Xero HQ, we don’t have one, HQ’s are evil, they cause too many problems. However, if we can continue to hire good people in Wellington, we will.

Wellington is getting a well deserved reputation for tech companies, it has a great culture.

Q: How do you deal with the NZ media?

A: The NZ media needs to be burned down! They don’t cover positive news or good results; they just want clickbait headlines. We have to make sure we don’t give them anything to feed on otherwise the problems they cause for our investor relations is nuts. We have to drown out NZ media by feeding the Australian press first on results day. Its expensive to fly the team to Sydney, but its the only way to ensure the right message gets out there.

Q: How did you get the accountants to be Xero partners?

A: City roadshows. We did events for groups of competing accountants, by the end of which they were fighting with each other to use Xero as a differentiator. Once we converted one city we moved onto the next. We were very fortunate that there was still a chance to create a SaaS sales channel and a platform to benefit both the accountants and their SME clients.

It was expensive, but it makes it nearly impossible for anyone to dislodge us now.

Q: What is your internal social media policy?

A: We punish people who are not on it! We don’t have a policy. Political hot topics are usually the only thing that divides opinion. We have only had a few telling offs, but nothing that requires formal rules.

The default is let people be responsible, its worked out ok so far.

My Favourite Rod’ism

A: Twitter is great, you can be naughty on Twitter. Its a place where banter can be used to raise awareness and you can take pokes at competitors, especially those who don’t really get social.

Event report by @the_asacox, Supreme Leader of @growthhackingnz – learn how to grow smart at

Posted by Nicole Williams

I'm a marketing geek with a passion for tech. Previously, I was the marketing manager for SilverStripe (open source CMS and cloud PaaS) Currently, podcaster and blogger for and founder of Wellington Marketing meetup. Currently exploring Europe and living the dream! I'm always up for a chat about marketing and I love sharing my experiences so that others don't have to learn the hard way.

One Comment

  1. Nicole, thanks for posting, really interesting for us SaaS companies from NZ trying to sell to the world. These are some good insights. Rod has obviously been someone to follow and see what works and what doesn’t. I have been following him since 2007 (when he was
    Interesting to see that the NZ media “just want clickbait headlines”. We have kept away from mainstream media and have focussed only on our niche using social media.
    Have you had success with mainstream media?

    Liked by 1 person


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