Advertising Age just named Salesforce to its 2018 Marketer A-List, which recognizes companies for their innovative marketing strategies. Salesforce is the only enterprise software company on the list. We asked Salesforce Chief Marketing Officer Stephanie Buscemi to explain the company’s marketing approach.


We just won a big (and very flattering) marketing award. What’s the secret to our marketing success? We focus on our customers’ success. And that’s a marketing strategy any company can use.


What do our customers need from us? We have to listen closely and build their needs into everything we do — the content we create, the channels we use, even the products we build. Then we aren’t trying to convince our customers of anything. We’re letting them guide us, and learning from them every day.


So in a way, our customers help us create, visualize, and innovate the solutions we offer — and we also use them ourselves. Our marketing solutions are laser-focused on connecting every aspect of a company to serve customers’ needs. Since our Marketing Cloud is a core part of the Salesforce Customer Success Platform, it integrates every touchpoint and experience across not only advertising and marketing, but also commerce, sales, service, communities, and apps. When you add Einstein artificial intelligence tools, marketers can anticipate needs customers might not even know they have.


Why is this important? We’re in the midst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution — an incredible wave of innovation and technology that is radically transforming our economies, our societies, and our daily lives. Cloud, social, mobile, IoT, and AI technologies are transforming customer experiences. In this environment, Trailblazers propel the future of technology — in human and often moving ways.


Our Trailblazer customers have built successful companies, nonprofits, and careers with our products and services beyond what we ever imagined. Take for instance Stephanie Herrera of Austin, Texas. Stephanie didn’t go to college, but she became a Salesforce MVP and Director of Salesforce and Business Systems through Trailhead, our free online training academy. Stephanie also started Salesforce Saturdays, where she gets together with a group of Salesforce enthusiasts to learn new skills with Trailhead. These Salesforce Saturday events have now spread around the world. We didn’t create that community on our own. A marketer really couldn’t, in an authentic way, write that script. But our Trailblazers take things beyond what we had in mind. We’re just the base camp in the great outdoors. That’s why our company looks and feels so different.  


We use events to bring the community together — like a family reunion — to connect and share ideas. These are a great way to help build that feedback cycle and really focus on what it takes to make our customers successful, which we in turn use in our other marketing activities. When you come to Dreamforce and you're a part of our community, it's immediately clear that Salesforce is different. There's a lot of connecting, celebrating, and giving back. It looks like a giant park with waterfalls, grassy fields, and mountains.


We want that friendly atmosphere because technology can be scary and complex for some people. Maybe someone is worried tech will take their job. We want to make technology more relatable by democratizing access and sharing with the world that it can be fun and personal. That’s one reason we celebrate our Trailhead characters like Astro, Cloudy the goat, Codey the bear, and others. They wear different outfits — Astro might be an astronaut in one scene and a unicorn in another. Our characters explore and play and innovate in a world of possibilities. We believe individuals can succeed in all kinds of new ways, and not just some individuals. Everyone. Equality is a fundamental value of our company, as Chief Equality Officer Tony Prophet has mapped out in so many ways.


Values might seem like just a nice, softer side to a company. But that’s not the case with Salesforce. We succeed because of our values. Customer-based and conversational marketing is absolutely measurable and strategic. That’s not to say we don’t also execute tried and true B2B campaign and marketing pipeline driving strategies. But staying close to and understanding the consumer will always reveal for you what they need and how to talk to them in a meaningful way.


I’m passionate about marketing because it sits at the epicenter of defining, making, and selling products and services that our customers need to build a better world. Market research is just a way of understanding people. With customers like ours, it’s such a privilege to think strategically about all of that.