Becoming a Front-of-House Marketer with Talend's Lauren Vaccarello

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This is a podcast episode titled, Becoming a Front-of-House Marketer with Talend's Lauren Vaccarello. The summary for this episode is: <p>Starting out as “the search girl” at Salesforce, Lauren Vaccarello always knew there was more to digital marketing than met the eye 12 years ago. And she was right. Now, Lauren is the CMO at Talend and sees her background in digital not just as a differentiator, but also as a strength. In this episode, Tricia and Lauren talk about what it’s been like growing their marketing careers in the digital age, and how, no matter where you start, there’s always a path to CMO.</p><p><br></p><p>Like this episode? Be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review and share the pod with your friends. You can connect with Tricia and Lauren on LinkedIn and follow @DriftPodcasts on Twitter.</p><p><strong>​</strong></p><p>Want even more CMO insights? Subscribe to Tricia's newsletter here:</p><p><br></p>
How being in the BOH and FOH in marketing has contributed to the growth of Lauren's career
03:24 MIN
Tips to grow your career and make those big leaps
02:00 MIN
Having and dealing with imposter syndrome
03:27 MIN
The digital future for CMOs
03:40 MIN
Lauren's theory on promoting internally vs hiring new
03:03 MIN
The most important marketing lesson Lauren has learned throughout her career
02:28 MIN

Tricia: Hey everybody, and welcome to another episode of CMO Conversations. I am really excited to bring another Salesforce alumni onto my show today because that means I've worked together with our guest. Lauren and I go way back. I have today Lauren Vaccarello, who is the CMO at Talend, and Talend is the leading tech company in the field of data integration and data integrity. The thing that's really interesting about Lauren is that she, when I was working with her, and kind of prior to that, was known as being a powerhouse of digital marketing, and there aren't a lot of CMOs that come from digital marketing. And so today we're going to talk about how she made that leap and what does it mean and what could potentially some pointers be for those of you who are in what Lauren kind of termed yesterday when we were getting ready, this sort of more backend marketer. How can you kind of move from being a backend marketer to being recognized within your company, having visibility in your company and also growing your career like she did? So Lauren, let me hand it over to you and you can give us a little spiel on yourself and where you are in your role at Talend.

Lauren Vaccarello: Awesome, and thank you so much for having me. I love talking to you, to Salesforce marketers. It's so funny how many people from our time at Salesforce are now sort of littering the Valley as CMOs and-

Tricia: It's super fun, huh?

Lauren Vaccarello: It's so great, and I just think back and, who would have thought back when we were in inaudible that this was going to be the breeding ground for all of these marketing leaders?

Tricia: I know it's crazy, more than half the people that we worked with on that floor in that little half floor area are CMOs now, it's amazing.

Lauren Vaccarello: Yep. It really, really, really is, and it was such a good training and such a good way of looking at things. So I lead marketing at a company called Talend, but how I got here has been very circuitous. And I had met Tricia, I don't want to think how many years ago, 12, 13 years ago at Salesforce. And it was totally different time, it was$ 750 million in revenue, 2000 employees. We were not the category leader. Digital was this new thing that Salesforce was starting to do, and," Hey, we should build out digital." And I got hired to build out paid acquisition. I really, really sort of fought the idea of being the search girl, because that's what I did and that's what I was really good at. But I didn't just want to do that, I wanted to be more than the search girl. Not that there's anything wrong with doing paid search, but there were so many other things I saw and had ideas about. So the way I looked at things was, how do I look really holistically? Search is just massive, massive focus group, and we're getting all of this information and how do we do everything from learning about what keywords, which are really market trends, and how do we work? Cross- functionally. So I went from doing paid search to eventually taking on organic search to eventually taking on all of digital at Salesforce. And I got to do all of these like weird side projects, like run Salesforce's first global advertising campaign. I got to work on a Superbowl ad, which everyone who worked on that is a little traumatized.

Tricia: We talked to Robin Daniels about that when he was on the show, he was firsthand the manager of Chatter, so yeah, he had more trauma and scars than anyone else.

Lauren Vaccarello: We're all just, all a little traumatized, Robin bared the brunt of it. Yeah, it was good experience. It was character building for all of us.

Tricia: I think that's why there's so many CMOs. Actually. We went through a lot of character building in that time.

Lauren Vaccarello: It really, really is. And I just remember, and I am so grateful for working for George Hu, who's now the COO at Twilio, and you could never not know something with that man as COO. You would go into a meeting and he would say," Two weeks ago, you send me a spreadsheet. And on the third tab in row 84, cell D you had this number, but now you're saying this, which of those are true?" And you're like," Oh my gosh."

Tricia: Yeah, you always had to be ready. It was really good training.

Lauren Vaccarello: And it just meant that we knew our business upside down, backwards, forward, we knew how everything we did apply to absolutely everything.

Tricia: Yeah. Well, I also think it was a big thing in terms of the performance culture and the accountability, which we can talk about even more, but I don't want to derail you. But I think that that is something important to note. And I mean, not a lot of people liked working for George. I actually did, and you just said that you did-

Lauren Vaccarello: I loved working for him.

Tricia: I cried when George left, I was like," Oh no, who's going to hold everyone accountable?"

Lauren Vaccarello: When I left Salesforce and I had my exit interview, I had it with George. And I sat in that office and cried, and was just so sad, it was so sad to leave George. And George had no idea what to do with me as I'm just sitting there crying, saying that I'm leaving. He was like," Okay, Lauren."

Tricia: inaudible.

Lauren Vaccarello: He'd tap you on your head and be like," It was good working with you." I'm like," I don't know why I'm crying so much, I got to go." But to this day... I mean, I think I traumatized George as much by me crying as I traumatized myself. But he made everyone so much better, and that's why there's so many CMOs that came from that time, because we had to be performance oriented, we had to know our businesses. And I remember sitting in an offsite in the basement of the Cliff Hotel with marketing leaders, and we had the cloud product leaders, we had the international leaders and I was supporting for digital, all of the clouds and all of the regions. And I just remember before that meeting going," Oh my gosh, I know this international lead doesn't know his numbers and I know this person doesn't know his numbers. I'm just going to make sure I know everybody's."

Tricia: Yeah, I mean that was smart, because George knew everybody's, and just FYI for the listeners, we had an 87 page print out of all of these spreadsheets that Lauren's talking about, because at any moment, George would turn to a random page with a random cell and ask about it.

Lauren Vaccarello: Yep, and you just were like," Yep, I know that one." And I remember sitting in this meeting where he was asking, maybe it was the person who ran marketing for France or for Germany a question, and they didn't know the answer and I just popped up and I was like," This is the answer. Okay, got to go." I'm sitting back down, this is not my job. And there were several times I was just going," I'm just going to throw the answer over the table, because none of us succeed if one of us fails when you're doing this." And that just made me have to know the business every which way possible. I had to understand how digital and demand drove the rest of the business. I had to know conversion rates. I had to know win rates because it was just, you had to know the business.

Tricia: Yeah, and it all adds up to the parts, right? I think that's one of the big things we've talked about on the podcast is, it's not okay to just be the marketer that says," Oh, I produce the leads and here it is." Right? It was never okay in the time we worked together for digital to just say," Oh, well, my cost per lead went in half and so I've done my job." That was just totally unacceptable, because it wasn't about measuring digital to the cost per lead, it was about measuring digital to the cost of the business. And I think that was one of the things without accountability from George, that was very, very clear from the beginning, and you were the beginning of when we started to really invest in digital. I mean, we are talking about, like you said, 12 to 13 years ago. And at Drift, we talk about that being what we call the demand gen era, right? We moved at that time from, marketers are doing billboards and they're doing PR campaigns and stunty kind of stuff as a way to create buzz. And that was the only thing you could kind of measure is, is there buzz in the market and if you go ask someone on the street, do they know who you are? Then we moved into this more digital era with the internet and SCM and everything, and you could just get by by saying," Oh yeah, we're measuring to leads or we're measuring cost per click or whatever." But really I think that was the main thing that we all work together on back in that time was, how do we actually take CRM on the backend, which obviously was what we were doing, and these new technologies and pulling them together to really have an impact to the business. I think, we didn't talk about it before, but I think there's accountability, and this focus on the accountability of the outcome is maybe one of the things that you talked about the demand people needing to think about the outcome. I had never thought about it before yesterday when we spoke, but this idea of the front office marketers and kind of the back office marketers and who really has a visibility, we've had a lot of product marketers on the podcast and they talk about category creation and the message and things like that. But maybe you could talk a little bit more of your experience of being this back- office person. You just told us, you're speaking up in the executive meeting to cover the butt of all these other people, that's already putting you kind of more in the front office. How have you approached that? And how do you think that contributed to the growth of your career into being CMO today?

Lauren Vaccarello: That's a great question. And as a marketer, I have been the... So I've always had this concept front of house, back of house, and it's because I worked in restaurants and you're front of house, back of the house, and I've always been back of house. And when I first started in digital, more years ago than I'm actually old, so it's weird that that happens. Digital marketing, wasn't a thing people did. It was not a socially acceptable profession. I remember my office was literally in the hallway of my first job, my office, my desk. My desk was in the hallway of my first job as the weird digital person. And digital marketing, when we think about where it came from, was the people that sat in the hallway. We worked on the websites, we were technical. And then you had the strategy people, you have the product marketers, the people that get on stage, the people that talk to sales, the people that tell the story. And product marketers, which is an incredible skillset to have, is to tell that story, are the people that have the most visibility. And then you have sort of the back of house, the marketing operations, the digital that are there sort of working in the background making sure things get done. There making sure your website stays out there, making sure your lead gets routed to your salesperson, they're making sure the ads work on the intranet and they're doing all of this, but we usually don't go and present to the CMO or we don't go and present to sales because that's just never been the role, we're the people behind the scenes making things happen. And then you have sort of the product marketer going and presenting, here's all of the end results, here's everything that happens in tying it together. And I sort of always looked at things a little differently, and still having that, but I made sure I didn't just think about tactics. Because something that I have seen a lot of digital marketers fall into, is we get really tied into the tactics. So we you get really obsessed with the tactics, we get really obsessed with the leads. And it is," I'm going to think about my cost per lead and how do I optimize my cost per lead, and if I improve my click- through rate and I do this and this." And that's where we'll focus. The only reason you're improving your cost per lead or you're improving your click- through rate is because by doing that, you're going to drive more revenue for the business. And I always saw the end, and the improving a click through rate or making the website load faster or finding a way to target this person, is a means to an end. And a problem that a lot of digital marketers have is, you talk about the tactic, you talk about the how and not the why. So something that I did, that I still do and encourage all of my team, is the, how you got there, does not matter is the first thing you say, you have to go with, this is how I'm going to help increase revenue. We improved our bookings by doing this. I improved our pipeline by doing that. And then if people want to know the minutia and the detail, we have the data to back it up, but it's leading with outcomes, leading with impact. And then it's like," Oh, by the way, I did that because I'm so good at what I do, I sped up the page load time. I ran these three tests for conversion optimization. I found out that this form layout works better than this form layout." And the nerdy, digital marketer will care, and I'll think it's interesting, but if you're speaking to an executive or you're speaking to someone who's not a domain expert, they're like," I have no idea what you're talking about." And we have to lead with that.

Tricia: Yeah, and I think it becomes noise, right? And then I think when people... If you're always talking about noise, one, people don't want to feel dumb, right? You're talking about all this stuff and you have a senior person sitting there thinking like," Am I supposed to know this? Oh my God, maybe I'm dumb. I don't like being around this person, they make me feel dumb." So I think this point of really talking about the outcome, really connecting yourself to the impact you're having on the business, it's huge. But it's huge not just in terms of the reality of what you're doing, it's huge because this is a great way, and I think it's great advice for, how do you speak to executives, How do you actually know your audience and deliver relevant information to them?

Lauren Vaccarello: Yeah, and it's a hundred percent know your audience. Who are you talking to? What do they care about? If you're talking to the CRO, talk about revenue and talk about how you're helping with bookings. If you're talking to say the VP of product marketing, we have great insights as digital marketers on what messaging is resonating, market trends, bring those sorts of insights to your product marketing team. And then talk about," Hey, we tested your new message, this is what's resonating in the market. This is what's driving pipeline. This is what is resonating with the sales team." It's great insights to share, but you're right, if all we do is get caught up in the minutia, no one will hear us.

Tricia: Yeah, totally. So now you in your career, you went from being this back of office marketer looking at all these widgets and numbers and data points, and then you moved into sort of a broader role, not just the digital part, but demand gen overall, how would you recommend for people to think about growing their career and being able to kind of make these various leaps that you've made?

Lauren Vaccarello: To go from digital to product marketing, really hardly, unless you happen to work for a company that does digital marketing. But if you want to go from digital to demand, it's less harder to leap. And to go digital, demand, CMO, is a more realistic path. And for me it was things like, know the outcome you're trying to drive. And as digital, we are digital first as a world now. 13 years ago, digital was a smaller percentage of the demand inaudible. Digital, at least for me, is a very, very, very large portion of where demand comes from. And we need to, first of all, realize it and recognize that as digital marketers, we are already driving 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80% of demand depending on the company, and just sort of own that a little bit and have a little confidence in ourselves because of that.

Tricia: Yeah, take pride in it.

Lauren Vaccarello: Absolutely. And then be able to have those conversations leading with outcome of, our total pipeline target is, I don't know, a hundred million dollars, digital has driven$ 65 million, we're up 40% year over year. Having those data points, but then also being able to say," And the overall strategy for this." So not just jumping into the numbers saying," Well, we focused on this target audience, this persona, we used this message, and then this is how we drove$ 65 million." And being able to connect that. And if you start to train people and change the way we talk, and there's a bunch of data behind this for neuroscience of how we speak becomes how we think and can rewire your brain, so if all you do is talk about tactics, that's how you think. If you change how you speak to lead with outcomes and then to lead with messaging and persona, you'll start to think like that and you'll start to think more strategically by forcing yourself to talk about it and to lead with it. And then if you do that, people see you as bigger and more.

Tricia: Yeah, yeah, totally. One of the things that I think is really interesting too, is that, we'll talk on it a little bit more of how the world has really become digital. So obviously, this is actually a strength, even though most CMOs probably haven't taken your path. But I think one of the things we talked about is how this sets you up in a place of strategic knowledge, right? So as you're managing your team, since you have this knowledge of digital, how do you lead as a CMO, do you think differently than others since you actually can go and understand that granularity of digital?

Lauren Vaccarello: I think I occasionally freak out my digital marketing team, which I get such a kick out of. So funny side story, the woman who runs digital at Talend is absolutely brilliant, and she's also another ex Salesforce person, and I adore her, and she's known me forever. And there's a woman on her team who runs paid search. I mean, no one now knows me as a paid search person. No one would think that unless you knew me 15 years ago, God, that's a long time. Unless you've known me for 10 years, you don't think of me as the search person. So the person who runs paid search was walking me through programs, I couldn't help it sort of smile as she's explaining the basics of paid search to me," And this is how this works." And she's giving me this really good, baby high level version of what this is. I just wanted to be like,"Does she know anything, does she know that I know this? And I love it, and then all of a sudden I can ask really pointed questions and I get a kick out of that when people sit back and are like," Why are you asking me this?" It's like," No, no, because I know how to do this. I have to just skip the basics part, just tell me really what's going on and is this good or bad?" And I've got a good relationship with our web team, our digital team, and I actually spend a good amount of time with them because I'm genuinely interested and curious in what they do. And I have so much respect for the work, say our web team does. And what's different with them than I think has been different at other places they've worked is they know, I know that they're good and I know if they're bad. I don't need someone to filter quality level for me. I can call it really quickly, and if you're good and I know you know what you're doing, I know the power of doing this well. So they have more air cover and more autonomy than they will get anywhere else. They are good at what they do, they produce excellent results. So we will meet once a week, we'll run through what's going on on the web just to keep me updated, but the woman who is my director of web strategy is like," We print money, Lauren lets us do what we want as long as we keep printing money." I was like," Those are the rules."

Tricia: Yeah, that's awesome. That's always a great place to be in, and I think there's certain programs that we do, and you see it in every company where it's just like," Okay, it's just goes, and goes, and goes." And we have customers too, like Mariana at PTC, she has this solution where she has 6sense, us and people. ai, and she calls it the money machine.

Lauren Vaccarello: I love that.

Tricia: She's like,"If we just make this run, then it does great." But she's leading all digital transformation for PTC, which is a huge company, and it's because it works and she's opened the store where people trust her because she's proven out something that contributes directly to the revenue. And that's what I think inaudible strength for marketers today is, like you said, back to the outcomes, if you can demonstrate the impact you're having at a strategic level, you get a lot of respect.

Lauren Vaccarello: Absolutely. And with Mariana at PTC, I could imagine her having such a good job because no one is nitpicking everything that she's doing. It's like," You're driving results, I've created this money machine, you can nitpick this or you can have me go and tackle the next topic." And even with the web team that we have as much as I'm a pain in the butt for them because I know what they do, it is, they know how to make money, and where there's an advantage for having someone with a digital background is, I can translate. So even if they aren't always," Here's the outcome, this is what we're driving." I know what they do enough that I can translate in my head of, this is really what you're trying to say to me. And I think as a leader, it's up to me to help them be able to communicate in a way that worked for me and they talk to someone who doesn't understand. So for me, it's I have to help teach them and get them to a place where they can have these conversations with someone who isn't a functional expert. But when they're talking to me, I'm like,"Just tell me what's going on."

Tricia: Yeah, yeah, go on the weeds, that's inaudible.

Lauren Vaccarello: Yeah, exactly.

Tricia: Yeah, that's awesome. Well, so when you started out, you started talking about your desk in the hallway, that's kind of derogatory. And then you talk about," Oh, I was this geeky number person." So the way you present it and how you even talk about yourself is a little bit under qualifying, I would say. And then you talk about how you like took on bigger roles, how now your CMO, was there an element of imposter syndrome ever that you had, and how did you get through that?

Lauren Vaccarello: Oh, a hundred percent, a hundred percent. I think there still is for everybody. I still remember a meeting that I had when I first started at Salesforce, I will never say who I met with, and I was doing one of the meet people and introduce when you first start. And I remember talking to someone, who I still know, who very likely does not remember they said this to me, and we're in the room and they're like," Oh, where did you come from? What were your jobs before?" And before I worked at Salesforce, I worked in industries that you had to be really good at digital. But they weren't industries that were reputable tech industries, I didn't work at some big fancy company, I worked in gaming and online trading and online education, because at the time-

Tricia: That's where digital mattered.

Lauren Vaccarello: That's where digital mattered. And I remember saying this to this person and they were like," You probably shouldn't tell people that, it doesn't give you very much credibility." And I was like,"Okay." And I'm new to tech... Well, I'm new to that space and I just remember sitting there going," This is where people that are good came from." And I still remember that, and that was the perception back then. And it very much was the," Well, should I sit in this room?" And I think that conversation gave me this,"You have no idea what you're talking about, I 100% deserve to be here." So that was the sort of opposite effect that made me feel like," No, I'm going to prove everyone..." Like," I don't need to come from a fancy company and a fancy school, I'm good at this." But there were definitely times, especially as I got into broader leadership roles and I took on CMO roles where you get this, like," Do I really know what I'm doing? Should I really be here?" And my first VP of marketing job that I got... When I left Salesforce, I took a VP of marketing job at a start up. I'd been on digital, I'd done demand. I never did product marketing. I never ran PR. I never ran creative before. And what I didn't realize is I had these opportunities to be in all of these rooms. And for everyone that is listening, if you were invited to a meeting that is outside of your domain, don't be like," Whatever, I don't have to go, or I'm just not going to pay attention." I got invited to meetings about event planning at Dreamforce of how do we do space planning at Dreamforce? I was the digital marketer, there was no reason for me to be in that room, but I got invited so I went and I contribute when I can. And I get invited to go meet with the chief creative officer, and he would talk about creative and editing. And I would just get invited to these meetings. And I was too dumb to realize, why am I being invited to these? So I just went and I listened, and my first head of marketing job... And I'll never forget it, they had a customer video, and they did a customer video and I had never worked on a customer video before, I had seen you work on customer videos, but I never did a customer video. And I sat and they showed me the customer video and I watched it and went," That's not telling the right story, no, no, no, no. Okay, at one minute three seconds, change this. Okay, you're not showing a product image when you're talking about a product, put a product image here. Okay, the story will sound better, move seconds, 45 to 55 to this part." And I gave this and all of the sudden I went," I didn't know I knew how to do that."

Tricia: Yeah, you had just watched it enough and you learned, and you were observant enough to kind of pay attention.

Lauren Vaccarello: And that's what it was, and it was giving me the opportunity to do that and taking the training wheels off. But I'd seen you do it, I'd seen people do it and I listened so much that all of a sudden I went," I think I know how to do this. Oh, wow, I think I know how to do this." What I should have done that I didn't do, and this is for anyone who's a new head of marketing or is going to go run marketing or even anyone now, because I still have to take this advice is, it's okay not to know the answer. And I didn't know product marketing in my first head of marketing job, I had never done it. What I should have done is called you and said," I don't know how to do this, van you walk me through? Help me with this?" And instead I was too shy and she was ashamed to be like," Okay, this is the area I don't really know." So I sort of faked it, and I would read things and I thought I had to do it myself, and I could have been more successful at it. And I look back now of like, I could have done better in this area if I only had the sort of competence to say," You know what, I don't know this, but I know a bunch of brilliant people that I can ask for help." And that is the mistake that I made that I hope other people don't make. And now, I've been running marketing for seven years, there are still a ton of stuff I don't know.

Tricia: Yeah. I mean, it's a very complex job. So I think we always have some area, and things are always changing too, right? So I think we talked in some other episodes about this personal board of directors, and I would say translating what you're saying into understanding these areas where you maybe have weakness and how do you get that personal board of directors that has that expertise. So you kind of have those people bought in, they understand what you're doing and you can always pick up the phone because they've already signed up to be bought in to helping you with your success. And that's, I think, as well where the Salesforce network of marketers comes in, because there's just so many of us that, this is our network, right? I mean, it's great because we can pick up and talk to different people about different things.

Lauren Vaccarello: Exactly.

Tricia: Yeah, I love that. I think one of the things that we should talk about is just this importance of digital. You are coming from digital background, you thought it was maybe the not sexy thing, people told you to not talk about your past. And then here we are, the past 18 months we've just been in digital land. I mean, there's nothing else anyone can do. And whether you were knowledgeable about how digital worked before or not, at this point you know a lot. So talk me through how that's changed your decision- making. What do you think is maybe even the future where CMOs and others should think about digital moving forward?

Lauren Vaccarello: It was the digital is a nice to have to digital is a need to have. We've got a customer who, at Talend, who's absolutely brilliant, and he is in marketing operations at Estee Lauder. And what he's done since COVID hit in terms of digital transformation is absolutely incredible. And hopefully, JD won't listen to this if I miss quote the exact number of years, but they had a certain amount of revenue expectations for e- commerce and for digital for three years out, and it came to fruition in 2020, because it was-

Tricia: That's amazing.

Lauren Vaccarello: ...everything that we do has to move to digital, and it's caused them to completely rethink," Okay, what are we doing? What's the experience?" And if you think about how you buy makeup, and if you're going to buy Estee Lauder, you're going to go to the makeup counter, or you're going to try stuff on, it's an in- person experience. And now you live in a world where there is no makeup counter, you're not going in person, what do you do? And I love what they did. And they were like," Well, we had to rethink this. So we had these virtual beauty advisors. We changed what people's jobs are to create a very different type of experience where you can still have that personalized conversation, but you're going to have that digitally versus in person." And even the way they looked at, well, what are the types of products we email customers about? When you get the email newsletter that's like," Hey, Tricia, go buy this." And which I love those, and that's how I do all of my shopping is because marketers are really good at targeting. But during COVID the products we needed were different. You know what, I really didn't wear a lot of makeup during COVID, that wasn't super important. What I needed was hair care products and more personal wellness, and I didn't need mascara because I'm sitting at home, nobody cares if I have mascara on anymore. So it forced them to totally rethink their products, how they went to market. And I just, I think they've done such an incredible job at digital transformation. And then even on our end and every marketer today is this new merger of analog and digital. What are our expectations from an analog world that now bled into digital? And because I've always been so digital, I actually really love events. I love events and field marketing, I get such a kick out of it. And I see the value in it in a way that I didn't when I was just leading digital. What COVID forced us to do that is not going away was, when you hosted a webinar pre- COVID, it's like, here's the webinar, the speaker goes on and there's no personal connection. You don't go to a webinar for a personal connection. And since COVID hit, I had a 5, 000 person user conference online. I have all of my field marketing events online. I have all of my executive programs online. I'm not going to go to an executive event and make it feel like a webinar that's cold and sort of distant, it has to feel personal. And this forced set degree of art of marketing and the, how do you make a digital experience feel personalized and feel like there's that human connection, that I would have never expected that to happen, I would've never pushed for that. But now I've got these incredible executive programs where we have these bespoke 10, 12 person executive programs and executive events that meaningful connections are built completely virtually with people around the world, which is incredible, and I would have never expected.

Tricia: Well, and I think when we never would have thought about it before, right? I mean, on a personal level, I know before COVID I had a friend who ended up on bedrest for their pregnancy, and we had to cancel the baby shower. We're like," Oh, you're on bed rest, there's no baby shower." And I'm like, how many people have had babies during COVID, and there have been huge online baby showers, virtual experiences, et cetera? I mean, it's just the entire change of mindset. But I think if we go back to your Estee Lauder story, I mean, you're at a company that is helping companies deal with their data. And I think this whole digital, what you were really strong at back in the day was this understanding of the data. So how do you think that that has transformed you as a leader and your marketing team? Because the world is so digital now, is everybody now more knowledgeable about the data?

Lauren Vaccarello: I wish everybody was. I wish everybody was, it's not. I will say my random comment about data in general is the good and bad thing about data and data- driven is we have so much data and so much information that we are so data- driven, but the bad thing is we have so much data, we're so data- driven. There are times, and I will say this, and then I'll talk about why you should be data- driven and contradict myself, there are times you need to just do what you believe is right and not get super caught up in the data like with PR. My PR and thought leadership program is not going to drive a dollar in trackable revenue, that doesn't mean I shouldn't do it. How you measure it and does it work, is softer and different. I know you've had people come on and talk about category creation, and so even the work we did at Salesforce zillions of years ago of how we took Salesforce from a, you're buying a CRM to this is what you run your business on, a leap of faith had to go into that because you're spending a ton of money and a ton of time, and you're like," It will work, trust me." And then it's Mark and he's brilliant, so of course it worked. So you have to have part of marketing that you're willing to have trust and faith and a belief, verify, but go. The rest of marketing though, you definitely need to track and understand what you're doing. What's interesting, especially as you have account- based marketing and marketing in a lot of ways changing, what we track and measure it becomes different. And the thing that I push my org for is, if you have a crazy idea, I won't say no. If you give me an idea I will push you on it, because really what I want to know is, tell me at the beginning, what problem are you solving, how are you measuring success? And then tell me," I want to go run a data escape game, and we're going to do this virtual game where we get all these people and they solve all these quizzes, and it's a virtual escape room." I'm like," Cool, that sounds cool. Why are you running?"

Tricia: What's the impact of the business? Why would we do it?

Lauren Vaccarello: Yeah, and if I ask these questions, and people think I asked because I disagree, and I'm like," No, it's a cool idea, I have no idea why you're doing it." And you're like," Oh, I'm doing it because we need to drive leads or pipeline or unstick deals. And this is what we're going to do, and this is how I'm going to measure success." I'm like," Great, it sounds like a cool idea. That sounds like a way to achieve that." And that's the thing I've pushed my Org on a ton is, don't tell me your idea, because all ideas seem interesting, tell me what you want to do with it. I have this problem, I have this goal, this is what I'm trying to accomplish, then tell me your cool idea.

Tricia: Yeah. I think that's so important because I also think that in today's day and age, everything's changing all the time, it gives you the opportunity to actually test new things. But if you don't know why you're testing, you don't know what you're trying to get to, you can't really like test, fail fast, learn, grow, et cetera. And I think that's such an important of a marketing organization is really having that ability to fail fast and learn. And of course not only your most important number or your most important thing, but still bring that opportunity to learn and grow as a team and then individuals. We're running out of time, but I do want to get one other thing... Well, two actually, because I have my closing question that I ask everybody. But your growth actually has come from you, I would describe it as these ancillary halo areas. You went from digital to demand, demand to like a broader VP of marketing role and then up into CMO, so what's your theory on promoting people internally versus hiring net new?

Lauren Vaccarello: That's a great, great question. I definitely benefited in my career from being promoted internally. And years and years ago, I reported to the head of digital and he left the company, and I will never forget it. And he leaves the company, and of course, because imposter syndrome, even though I was one of the top performers in the whole company, I was like,"I'm going to get fired. I'm not going to have a job, my bus is leaving. I'm going to get fired." And I think about that, and the logical part of my brain says, you were one of the top performers in the company, you drove buckets and buckets of revenue, but I was still convinced I was out the door. And my boss's boss comes to me and he's like," Look, Bill's leaving." I was like,"Mm-hmm(affirmative), yep, yep." And in my head I'm like," Here, it's coming, I'm not going to have a job." And he's like," Bill's leaving, I have two options." And he's like," I could hire someone externally or I could give you the job, and my money's on you." I mean, first of all, knowing that this person who didn't hire me, who had inherited me, had that degree of faith in may was so incredible and so inspiring that I felt like I could do anything by him saying that. And it was also, I'm going to take this leap of faith and, you have never had this job before, you've never had a job this big before, but I see the ceiling, I see the potential, I see the growth. And I'm eternally grateful to that, and the additional money that he gave me. And the scope, and that in so ways, is a reason or a big part of the reason my career is where it is today. And then I think internally of the people that I have in the org, and there's sort of two different angles that you look at the things. And they have something in the official leadership, which is the 9- box, which is performance and potential. And how is someone performing and what's their potential, or how high is their ceiling? And I look at people in my org and if there's an opportunity where someone is really good and they're performing well and I think they've got a lot of potential, if their boss leaves, or if there's a stretch area, I try to give it to people internally. If I see that, can you do this? But they have to make sure they have whatever support they need. And if they can't do it, they need a path to go somewhere else in the company. So it's not like I gave you this stretch role and you failed and now you're out the door, it's, I gave you the stretch role, if it's too much, we have something for you, you will still be fine and you'll have that degree of safety. And it's interesting, there was a woman on my team now who's my chief of staff. And when I met her, when I first started at Talend a couple of years ago, she worked for someone who worked for someone who worked for me, and was several layers down. And I remember talking to her, and she was the only person that was honest with me, because you're the new CMO that comes in, and you know this, no one tells you anything.

Tricia: Yeah, crosstalk.

Lauren Vaccarello: And you're like,"IF you don't tell me what's going on I can't do anything." So no one tells you anything. And you're trying to figure out which way is up and what's going on. And there was this woman who, she wasn't trying to manipulate me, she wasn't trying to get anything out of it. I'd get into the office at like 6: 30, 7 o'clock in the morning, because I'm an early person in to beat the traffic and she'd be there. I'm like," Do you want to go for a walk?" And we'd go for a walk and she'd give me like," Hey, by the way, look at this. By the way, you should just go pay attention to this. You should show up to..." And she would give me this little bit of information, and I was like," Oh my God, you're the only person that's telling me, what's going on. Tell me one more." And then the more time I spent with her, I'm like," She's actually really smart. She's really good. Oh my God, she's doing well in her role, but she shouldn't be in that job." And she's completely being held down by this job. And the more time I spent with her, I just went," This person has something." And she is organized, she's smart, she knows the company, she's strategic. And I was doing a reorg and I need someone to run my life, and I went," I think I'm going to make her, my chief of staff. She's never done this before, I trust her. She has the best interest in the company. I think she has a ton of potential. She has no idea what this job looks like. She has never done this before. She's got the right traits, let me make her my chief of staff. If it doesn't work, I can move her to another role, move her to another role." And this was a year and a half ago, and I swear this woman runs my life. And she's gotten to a point where I'm on vacation and she could run a pipeline forecast meeting for me, and has never done that before. And it's, you find that talent, you find people with potential that have the right sort of core skillsets, give him the opportunity and make sure... The one caveat that I have is your entire organization can't be step- up roles, you can't have everyone in a step- up role.

Tricia: No, you have to balance. It's just like that whole idea of, what are you testing and where are you doing experimentation? Your most important project with the most important deadline can't be an experiment, but you can do it in other places. So I love this idea of applying that to your team, and the ability to grow people and focus on their career growth, it's like, not everybody can be in some experimental, can you do it role, but a percentage of people can. And well, not everybody's going to be in that upper right corner of the 9- box either, so it kind of aligns in both ways, right?

Lauren Vaccarello: Absolutely. One of the phrases that someone said is intelligence and wisdom. And it's the, I've done this for 20 years, we have a degree of wisdom. I am super, super sharp and I'm hardworking and I get stuff, is you have a lot of intelligence. And as long as you're pairing intelligence and wisdom and making sure that upstart has someone with experience there to sort of back them up and give them that peace, it is a good model.

Tricia: That's awesome. I'm sure many people who've worked for you or in your org basically appreciate that approach and are grateful. And maybe even after listening to this you'll have a lot of people saying,"I want to come work for you." Well, so we've reached the end of our episode and it's been a great conversation. I have one question that I ask everyone, and so I'm hoping you could share your response to this question, which is, what is the most important marketing lesson you think that you've learned in your career?

Lauren Vaccarello: I used to think brand was a bunch of BS. And I did not get it, I thought it was the dumbest thing in the whole world. I was like," Why do you waste money on this?" And I remember when I was at Salesforce we did the Wall Street Journal ad, and Mark bought a two year deal for the Wall Street Journal, it was$ 7 million a year for two years. And it had the front page ad on the Monday edition of the Wall Street Journal, and then it got a bunch of digital stuff. And it was every Monday a front page ad for two years. And somehow I had to run this.

Tricia: Well, because it has a lot of digital, but yes.

Lauren Vaccarello: And I just remember being like,"I don't have enough budget to run paid search." And in my head I'm going there going," What I can do with$ 7 million? If you gave me$ 7 million of additional budget for digital, I could generate all of this pipeline, I wouldn't put it in the Wall Street Journal." And in my head, I just remember going," What's wrong with these people? This is so dumb. What I could have done with this$ 7 million." And I look back at that going," I couldn't have been more wrong." Of course Mark was right, of course Mark was right. And one of the most impactful things I think I got to work on was that Wall Street Journal ad. And it was every single week, and we used the print ad to tell a story over the course of two years, about who the company was. And it literally was on every CEO's desk every Monday morning. And this wasn't the only piece of it, but during that time, Salesforce went from, here's this CRM tool that maybe your sales ops person knows about to CEO level discussions. And I didn't understand the impact of brand. I didn't understand that by investing in things like a Wall Street Journal ad or an IGNITE program or more thought leadership, I didn't understand that by doing that and purposefully putting money there, three years from now your company is going to be so much bigger and worth so much more. I didn't get that until I had to do it and it is my... Where the biggest sort of mistake that I made, and the thing that I just didn't know, is I was like," I don't get why people do this, just put money in what drives revenue." And that's the wrong thing to do for longterm.

Tricia: Yeah, that's an awesome lesson, so that's great. Well, this has been a great discussion. I think it's been very different from the other CMO conversations that we've had. It's so timely with the fact that we're still in this digital world and now all try to figure out what's this hybrid world going to be like. So thank you so much for joining us. If people want to get in touch with you, because of course they all now want to work for you, what's the best place to do that? Is it LinkedIn? Is it Twitter? What are your handles?

Lauren Vaccarello: LinkedIn. I would say, find me on LinkedIn, just Lauren Vaccarello, a really unique name, so easy. I am on Twitter as @ LaurenV, but I am a lurker, so I will watch and occasionally retweet, but I think I post something twice a year.

Tricia: Yeah, awesome. Thank you to all of our listeners. And if you liked this episode, please share, recommend, whether you're in Apple or Spotify or wherever it is that you're getting your podcasts, go in and make sure that you rank us as six stars, we have high achieving goals. And once a month I share customer centric, data- driven and barrier breaking marketing headlines, and that is in my newsletter. And we're actually doing that twice a month, so once a month I promote the podcast, the other, I have just a newsletter about where the world of marketing is going. And so I encourage you to sign up for the newsletter, as well as listening to the podcast ongoing. And thank you to all of our listeners and thank you to you Lauren.

Lauren Vaccarello: Awesome, thanks so much.


Starting out as “the search girl” at Salesforce, Lauren Vaccarello always knew there was more to digital marketing than met the eye 12 years ago. And she was right. Now, Lauren is the CMO at Talend and sees her background in digital not just as a differentiator, but also as a strength. In this episode, Tricia and Lauren talk about what it’s been like growing their marketing careers in the digital age, and how, no matter where you start, there’s always a path to CMO.

Today's Host

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Tricia Gellman

|CMO, Drift

Today's Guests

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Lauren Vaccarello

|CMO, Talend