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How e.l.f. Beauty CMO Kory Marchisotto Takes “No” as a Challenge

two white women facing each other, e.l.f. Cosmetics CMO Kory Marchisotto with Salesforce CMO Sarah Franklin
e.l.f. Cosmetics CMO Kory Marchisotto and Salesforce CMO Sarah Franklin discuss the power of culture. [Salesforce]

Salesforce CMO Sarah Franklin travels the country to meet with industry-shaping marketing leaders.

From the moment I sat down with e.l.f. Beauty Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Kory Marchisotto, there was one word that came to mind: “Unstoppable.”

It was clear from the outset of our conversation in San Francisco that Kory has spent her life and career encountering obstacles and finding ways to overcome them.

Now she’s doing it at e.l.f., where she recently helped the brand go completely digital over the last couple of years. Results? E.l.f. Beauty beat expectations and increased sales by 10% in 2020.

I don’t think, as a CMO, you can be effective if you don’t understand whom you’re serving and what problem you’re trying to solve.


It all starts with what happens when Kory hears the word “no.” For her, that’s not the end of the conversation. That’s the start of a challenge. In Kory’s mind, we’re not here to follow orders — we’re here to be superheroes.

One superpower of hers is reading over 2,000 customer comments each week. The questions she comes back to again and again are: “Who are we trying to serve? And, what problem are we trying to solve?” She continues this line of thought, adding, “I don’t think, as a CMO, you can be effective if you don’t understand whom you’re serving and what problem you’re trying to solve.”

Kory also understands that — especially in a big corporation — information is perishable and you need a culture that supports disruptions and moves fast.

Be unstoppable. Be curious about things you don’t know.


“Culture has to be a mindset,” she said. “If people wake up every morning and say to themselves today, ‘anything is elfin’ possible,’ that’s a powerful motivation. So, you know, nine times out of 10, my team will come to me with ideas, and we have a very quick chat about it. I’m like, ‘Go do it, sounds great.’ And then we’ll do it, and [later] we’ll circle back and [check] ‘how’d that work?’ Because we have a culture of testing and learning.”

That comes through in Kory’s advice for future marketers.

“Be unstoppable. Be curious about things you don’t know. And I like to wrap it up in ‘three Cs.’ The first one is curiosity. The second one is courage, and the third one is conviction. Your curiosity gives you the knowledge; your courage gives you the fearlessness to act. And, conviction is going to give you the resilience to carry it all the way across the finish line.”

In upcoming episodes, I’ll meet Carla Pineyro Sublett, CMO at IBM in Austin, Texas. And, I’ll visit big wave surfer Laird Hamilton on the Hawaiian island of Kauai to discuss how he launches and markets two businesses, XPT Extreme Performance Training and Laird Superfood.

It’s a year of connections with some of the most innovative marketing leaders around. I hope you’ll join me. To make sure you never miss an episode, watch and subscribe now.

In a new video series called Connections, Salesforce CMO Sarah Franklin hits the road to bring you insights from some of the best minds in marketing.

Sarah Franklin President and CMO

Sarah Franklin is chief marketing officer at Salesforce. She was previously executive vice president and general manager of Platform, Trailhead, and Developers.

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