“There is nothing more important than the trust of our customers”: how Salesforce continue to lead with their values
Five Questions with Sarah Franklin, Chief Marketing Officer, Salesforce
We believe there is a shift from organization-led brands to brand-led organizations (e.g. Disney, Amazon, Apple) where the business is the commercial manifestation of a powerful brand. Do you recognize this shift? What are the challenges and opportunities in it?
Yes .. we see the need for companies to market themselves as a balance of a brand with great products/services along with being a brand with great purpose .. a brand that cares.
The opportunity is to connect with customers and prospects on an emotional level and build a human connection and relationship. There is also opportunity to build a sense of community around the brand and to seize the opportunity of influencer marketing and social commerce. When you develop advocacy for your brand, you tap into channels that you never would have reached before.
The challenge is the need to be efficient and drive top line growth while bottom lines are becoming smaller. Building a brand takes investment and tactics that go to large amounts of people. Brand building takes time and needs to be done well, consistently, and purposefully. You cannot easily build a brand overnight. It is easier to build a product line campaign that has a specific product or service to sell.
We see the need for companies to market themselves as a balance of a brand with great products/services along with being a brand with great purpose .. a brand that cares.
Our Best Global Brands data suggests that brands who not only provide superb experiences but also take a leading stance on social issues are more relevant to consumers. How are you approaching this in your organization?
At Salesforce, we lead with our values in everything we do. Our core values are trust, customer success, innovation, equality, and sustainability. We stay true to our values no matter how the world around us may change. Since our inception 23 years ago, we have philanthropy built into our business model with 1:1:1, where we give 1% of each of our employees time, our equity, and our service to non-profit organizations.
We have taken a stance on equality through fighting for LGBTQ+ rights in Indiana, being a champion for equal pay in our annual audits, by advocating for every stakeholder, including the earth, in everything we do. We launched the #TeamEarth campaign to rally us all on the same team to fight climate change, and created 1T.org to plant 1T trees to sequester carbon.
Why, in a recession, should a business continue to invest in their brand? How do you think the investment in brand and marketing, will evolve or change over the next 12 – 18 months?
During a recession, it is all the more important to invest in your brand and marketing to maintain a healthy pipeline and showcase of the success of your customers. There are ways to be more austere in spending through lower cost content, re-evaluation of sponsorships, and analytics to make most use of advertising spend. There has never been a more important time to market your brand for customers to know that your company is healthy and to educate them on why your products or services are helpful in these times. Relevance is of the utmost importance in times like these.
Great ideas get copied, and that is why it’s important to always be differentiating yourself against the competition.
How has your competition evolved over the past 24 months? Where are you seeing or experiencing the greatest threats? What are the biggest opportunities? Are you seeing new or surprising competitors entering the space?
Imitation is the fondest form of flattery, and that is what you see in competition. Great ideas get copied, and that is why it’s important to always be differentiating yourself against the competition. It is why maintaining a beginners mindset is critical, so that you do not limit your thinking nor stifle creativity.
We have come to recognize brands as being powerful acts of leadership. In what ways do your brand’s moves reflect you/your organization’s belief system?
We lead with our values of trust, customer success, innovation, equality, and sustainability. There is nothing more important than the trust of our customers. And we highlight their success as our success. We have coined the term “Trailblazers” to represent the innovative, curious, and entrepreneurial identity our our customers .. people that are pioneers, innovators, movers and shakers .. people that say no to status quo. We believe that we can change the ratios in tech by skilling up millions of Trailblazers on our platform .. and earn their way towards great careers that pay great dividends. This idea of empowerment and impacting change is core to Salesforce, where we believe that business is the greatest platform for change.