As the global pandemic passes the six month mark, much of the world is still in shock.

And the human reflex to shock is the same for marketers as everyone else: self-preservation—to assess the situation, check vital signs and get out of danger. 

But at Salesforce Live: EMEA we heard some incredible stories and examples about why the most effective marketing move right now is to resist rather than reflex. Instead of standing still and looking inwards, the best marketers are moving forwards—faster than ever.

Trailblazers like Dario Gargiulo (Global CMO of Bottega Veneta) and Javier Donoso Rebuelta (Global Head of Data, Insight and CRM at BBVA) explained that marketers need to use this as an opportunity to accelerate—to look outwards and double-down on customer-centricity. 

You can watch their session on-demand or keep reading to see how Salesforce trailblazers are putting this into action.


Moving fast, forward

Here’s why looking outwards matters so much right now: the pandemic hasn’t displaced the old world so much as accelerated what was already there. 

That’s why we thought carefully about publishing our sixth State of Marketing report back in May—the data was collected in a pre-pandemic world, and it wasn’t immediately clear if the trends and priorities respondents indicated would stay relevant.

But, a few months later, it’s clear that yesterday’s strongest marketing imperatives have actually intensified. Today’s most effective marketers are seizing the moment of change in order to focus on things like:

  • Creativity and innovation
  • How can you provide new value in a new world?
  • Marketing transformation
  • How can you overhaul organisational models and technologies to work in new ways?
  • Customer data
  • How can you source, manage and activate better quality data in service of personalized, empathetic engagement, at scale?

Dario, Javier and Eric Beretta Vasco (Audience Specialist at Barcelo Hotel Group) all spoke about accelerating creativity, transformation and customer data during the Salesforce Live sessions

Here are the highlights.


Creativity and innovation

Innovation was the top priority among marketing leaders in our sixth State of Marketing report, and as Dario explained in his session, it’s still just as essential: “More than ever, I strongly believe in the power of creativity to navigate this moment”. 

But that doesn’t mean marketers should rush into experimentation mode. The first step might actually be psychological: to reconcile the shock of disruption (and subsequent continuity imperative) with the understanding that creativity is a part of the recovery process.

This isn’t limited to practical, tactical responses either. Creativity can—and should—underpin big strategic questions and discussions about the new cultural relevance of your positioning, purpose and value proposition.

As CMO of Bottega Veneta, that meant revisiting what it means to be in a luxury brand in 2020. 

“2020 completely disrupted traditional perceptions of luxury. At one point this year, luxury for me was going outside and walking my dog. It’s incredibly important for luxury brands to situate their relationship to the inspiration and aspiration of yesterday.” 

The sessions were full of practical steps to innovate the customer experience—and it’s worth watching them to explore them in full. But for many, the first steps to making effective marketing—that strengthens customer relationships through times of change—will be assuming new empathetic perspectives that put customers first.



Before the pandemic, marketers everywhere were already transforming their operations and technologies to provide more connected and personalised omni-channel customer journeys.

For Eric Beretta from Barcelo Hotel Group, AI and predictive analysis are playing increasingly important roles in modelling (and responding to) future trends and events.

Widespread uncertainty means the travel industry is absorbing far more cancellations than usual. That means minimising unexpected cancellations once restrictions lift is going to be essential to stabilising revenue.

Eric spoke about pursuing two big AI opportunities. First, rolling out probability scoring to predict future on-site user behaviours based on historical data. That means Barcelo could predict with accuracy when a user was likely to re-engage to book their next city break or business trip, and engage them with personalised communications and promotions to improve the customer experience. 

Second, Eric spoke about adapting to the uncertainty of driving cancellations in the travel industry today. In the future, Barcelo could use algorithms to monitor cancellation indicators—like flight cancellations, weather conditions and geopolitical events—and create specific campaigns and interactions to help customers make their trip, or rebook for later. 


Customer data

For years the highest-performing respondents in our State of Marketing report have also been the most sophisticated users of data—prioritising higher quality data, from a greater variety of (integrated) sources, in a more timely manner.

And for Javier at BBVA, the customer data imperative is as vital as ever—with the caveat that marketers need to be more deliberate with data in order to drive value for customers. “Our business and analytics teams work very closely together to ensure we’re solving high-value problems with high-quality data.”

That close integration means Javier’s team can continue delivering high-value data-driven outcomes for customers—in some innovative ways.

“For our retail customers, that means improving their day-to-day financial health—ensuring there are no surprises or unexpected charges throughout uncertainty—while also using mature machine learning algorithms to make savings and investment recommendations to achieve their long-term goals.

“Meanwhile, we’re helping enterprise customers better understand their environmental impact and meet sustainability targets through a CO2 emissions calculator based on energy spend.”

It’s clear that even through the current moment of change, there are more opportunities for marketers to use data to create customer value—by bringing together more high quality data sources in service of a clear purpose.


These stories are just the tip of the iceberg. The sessions from Dario, Javier and Eric were packed with rich insights and highly-practical examples of using the current change moment to accelerate effective marketing.

Watch all the sessions from Salesforce Live: EMEA on-demand, now.