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Innovation

The Strategy Behind Salesforce’s New Streaming Service, Salesforce+

Colin Fleming

Why? That’s the question. Or if we’re really honest, maybe it’s — huh? Why would Salesforce create a streaming service for original content and live experiences? Salesforce isn’t Netflix. But after analyzing media and consumer trends, the company reevaluated how it delivers its popular content, including an original series with more than 700-million views. Add Salesforce’s trailblazing values and that’s how you get Salesforce+, set to launch in September, according to Colin Fleming, Salesforce’s Senior Vice President of Global Brand Marketing.

Fleming spoke to Salesforce Newsroom on the strategy behind Salesforce+, how the pandemic changed corporate content forever, and why the future of Dreamforce will be more accessible than ever before. 

Q. There’s a common line between Disney+, Paramount+, ESPN+, and the like. But Salesforce+? How does Salesforce fit into content streaming services?

One of the things I love about Salesforce, we often look to the consumer world for inspiration. That goes back to the founding of the company, when we asked “why isn’t consumer or business software as easy to use as it is to buy a book on Amazon?” That was sort of the mantra of the company and we’ve continued that.

As a result of the pandemic, we looked at the media landscape, where people are consuming content, and decided the days of white papers in a business-to-business setting were no longer interesting to people. We’re staring at a cookie-less future. And looking at the consumer world, we reflected on that for Salesforce and asked, “Why shouldn’t we be thinking about this too?” The people watching Disney+, the people watching ESPN+, are the same people watching Salesforce content in a business setting, so why wouldn’t we follow that sort of direction? That’s really the genesis of this idea.

Q. Do you expect other businesses to follow this trend?

I think they’re probably going to watch this to see how successful it is! To be honest, I think we’ve generally tried to be first-to-market with these kinds of ideas. It feels right for us. 

We’ve seen successful indications from the work we did during the pandemic and continue to do on Leading Through Change. We’ve now done 70 episodes and have almost 700-million views. So we’ve been able to get leading indicators in the types of content people are looking for and Salesforce+ is doubling down on that success. 

Q. Who is Salesforce+ for?

I won’t tell you “Salesforce+ is for everyone.” We want to give opportunities for professionals to learn new lessons and hear from the most inspirational leaders in their particular field. We have particular roles we’re targeting content for — whether it be the CMO, a sales professional, customer service, or simply someone looking to break into tech. You’re going to see content within Salesforce about individuals that have gone from hairdresser to senior vice president; some incredibly impactful stories we think are really critical for us. You’re just going to hear people tell their authentic stories.

Salesforce+ is an all-new streaming service for live brand experiences and original content series that inspire change in business, and the world.

Secondarily, it’s about co-creation with our community. Originally there’s going to be a lot of Salesforce-produced content, but our vision is to have our audiences and community develop content on their own and use this as a co-creation environment. It’s not just our stories but what people can tell us themselves. This is a platform for that. 

Q. It sounds like the Netflix of upskilling. What makes Salesforce well-suited to launch a service like this?

This company is built on being a Trailblazer. We have this trailblazing spirit within Salesforce and we thought, why not? Why not us? We see the content consumption models through Netflix and Peloton that are being developed and if that’s the future — then we should be first to market with that kind of thing and that’s exactly what you’re seeing us do. You’re going to see content in Salesforce+ that’s about the here and now, not how XYZ company did it in 1999, but how leaders have found new ways of success in this new, all-digital, work from anywhere world. 

Q. How does Salesforce differentiate itself when it comes to storytelling and content, including live events like Dreamforce?

The biggest thing is we aren’t going to just translate what Dreamforce was in 2019 to a digital audience. That would fail because consumption behavior is different. Attention spans are shorter. You build an event in one month and the next month the whole world has changed and something else is happening. How do we convert these big conferences into micro pieces of content that can be relevant now? 

We were one of the first companies that took that to heart and said we’re not doing a four-day conference. We’re going to do an episode on companies and individuals operating through a pandemic and leading through change, or we’re going to do an interview on how CMOs are overcoming challenges in this new world. We’re going to think about events in a very different way. 

Q. During the process of creating Salesforce+, what was the ‘a-ha’ moment? 

We started by looking at the original content we had — Leading Through Change, The Inflection Point, Connections — saw successes, viewer behavior, and indications this was a strategy we wanted to implement. Then when we looked at our strong events portfolio, we asked ourselves, “How do we bridge content and events together?”

In two weeks, being inspired by the Netflix, Pelotons, TEDs of the world, we found a way for these two things to coexist in a way that pays off. Then we layered in modern technologies for personalization and video consumption. Lastly, we had to make it uniquely Salesforce. How do we show it’s not just like Netflix or Peloton, but has its own spark? That took more time, but we’re pretty excited about what we’re putting together and think the Trailblazer community will really be inspired. 

Q. What will the Dreamforce experience be like on Salesforce+?

This is what I’m most excited about. We learned so much during the pandemic around what works and what doesn’t in a digital setting. The content is going to be shorter, punchier. You’re going to see over 100 hours of original content as part of Dreamforce. You’re going to see it in models that you’d expect from Peloton and Netflix, where the user interface and experience will be very familiar. 

When you think about the Dreamforce experience of 2019 and before that, you had to be in San Francisco, you had to be there in the moment to really capture it. That was a big defining moment for the brand but also a limitation. Our streaming audience was secondary. We were just captioning the content and presenting it. Now we’re building specific content for a streaming audience. That’s a big difference. 

Think about if you’re in the middle of a session and can ask a question online and get the answer live. Those types of experiences really bridge the divide between in-person and online audiences.

Q. Salesforce+ will feature channels, episodes, series — what’s your favorite?

I think my favorite channel will be our Primetime channel, where our main sessions and highlights will happen. We’ll have a host, emcee – some things we’ve never thought of before. It’ll be like the Olympics’ primetime model, summarizing highlights of all the great things happening in the Olympics.

On all four channels you’re going to see an opportunity to go deeper on Customer 360, our product portfolio to get deep into the technology. We’ll have a Trailblazer channel dedicated to co-creation with our Trailblazers, hearing their unique stories, getting hands-on with the technology. New this year is a dedicated Industries channel, where we hear about what’s happening in retail, manufacturing, healthcare and financial services. There’s something for everyone and that’s part of our mission going forward.

For more details on what Salesforce+ offers click here

Salesforce+ will be available globally on September 14, 2021. Sign up for Salesforce+  on Dreamforce.com