Salesforce: The age of the marketing campaign is over

The CMO of Salesforce spoke to CMO at its Connections event

Stephanie Buscemi
Stephanie Buscemi

The age of the ‘marketing campaign’ is over as good marketers shift to a focus on continuous experience and storytelling, Salesforce CMO, Stephanie Buscemi, says.

Speaking to CMO at the Connections event in Chicago last week, Buscemi, who has been in the marketing leadership role for a year, said she is making the role her own by concentrating on co-creation of content with customers, and retaining the voice of the brand amid numerous acquisitions.

Just prior to Connections, Salesforce acquired Tableau for US$15.7 billion. Last year, the tech vendor also acquired AI-powered data analytics player, Datorama, in a deal estimated to be worth upwards of US$800 million.

At Connections, Salesforce debuted a new customer data platform (CDP) integrated with Customer 360 to build a single view of customer across marketing, commerce, sales and service. 

And this is just the beginning. Salesforce is growing at a rapid rate, having just been named the 74th best global brand for 2018, according to Interbrand, with a brand value of US$6.4B, up 23 per cent year-on-year. Salesforce is the fourth fastest growing brand value behind Amazon, Netflix and Gucci, and is outpacing Adobe, Microsoft, SAP and Oracle. Salesforce is also number 285 out of the Fortune 500 (2018).

Buscemi has been with Salesforce for five years in total following her role as CMO at IHS Markit. She told CMO she's focusing on a few key outcomes.

“I’m very focused on first moving from a Salesforce voice, to a customer and Trailblazer voice,” she said. “I’m putting metrics in place to ensure more of our content is co-created together with our customers. In the future, the content won’t come from the brands, it will come from the communities.

“If you look at traditional B2B websites, for years they’ve become empty shells, because people don’t come there to read about product, they want a perspective and a point of view, and they want a ‘how to’ and the learning. So this is a big shift in our content model. We used to create the content and do a focus group. Now it’s how we co-create the content with customers, and how to determine the content from conversations on what our customers need.”

The marketing campaign is dead

What's more, Buscemi said the notion of the marketing campaign is all but over.

“Now, it needs to be a continuous experience. As marketers, we need to ask how we create a continuous experience in a dynamic way," she continued.

“I’ve been at this for 25 years now. It used to be a definite campaign season, or planning season, then it’s in market and you’re waiting retrospective reporting and review. That’s gone. Now, it must be a continuous process and getting teams to be more nimble about changing content on the fly and being OK with that. We’re not going to get it right every time. But if we do it in a transparent and authentic way, customers are cool with it and they get it.

“So it’s a content shift, and engaging customers more in that, and making the voice easy to understand, making it less acronym soup and more conversational. I use my mother as a test - does she get it?”

Retaining brand is not easy when you're facing a growing product portfolio. Buscemi said Salesforce's growth has been phenomenal.

“But the customer base just wants solutions to solve problems, they don’t need to know from me the amount of products we have in the portfolio," she said. “I’ve been through a lot of acquisitions in my career - I was at SAP for its first big acquisition as well. One of the things I’m proud of is the amount of time Salesforce spends on the people aspect of the acquisition. I do think in some cases acquisition can be taken to a spreadsheet and the making of the deal and that's all that is concentrated on.

“Here, a lot of rigour and support is spent on the core values of the people in those companies, and if if they are a good cultural fit with us. We’ve had a few where they had a great product, but we knew it would put our culture and brand at risk, so we didn’t do it."

Retaining brand is about a really good integration process, Buscemi said, with members of that product playing key leadership roles.

"We don’t want them to feel consumed. The big thing we keep in mind is, we’re acquiring a company for its knowledge, and this includes the people of that company," she said. “All these companies we acquire have a shared vision about making customer experience better.”

How the CMO role is changing

Buscemi also commented on the changing nature of the marketing leadeship role in light of the push towards CX. More than any other CXO role, the CMO has to get past their functional area, their four walls, and be an evangelist for the customer, she said.

“Brand use to be expressed through your marketing, but now your brand is a reflection of your culture and how you treat customers,” she said. “This gets expressed across all the touch points of your company. As CMO, you really have to become an evangelist for the customer across your organisation. You may not have all of it reporting to you, but you have to develop an evangelistic mindset to reach across the table to the organisation, who may have been more focused on productivity metrics until now.

“Their metrics may be different to yours, so a CMO must have conversations around how to align around shared customer metrics. The CMO remit is huge, and you have do that through influence."

Despite the challenges, however, it’s the best time to be a CMO, Buscemi claimed. "The more I talk to CEOs, the more I see their top priority is CX and they see the CMO as a strategic partner to make that happen,” she said.

While data has been a great boon for CMOs, storytelling has been bigger, Buscemi added.

“Over last two years, authenticity and storytelling has been the biggest boon for marketing. There is now so much going on, so much disruption, so everyone is striving for human connection and human storytelling," she said. 

“Marketing needs to ensure it can resonate, it knows how to make that connection, and knows who people are and what motivates them. Then, marketing can help them with a bridge to what is helpful to them. If you just look at data, you’ll miss the empathy of it."

Vanessa Mitchell travelled to Connections as a guest of Salesforce. 

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia.

 

 

 

 

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