In 2019, Lauren Vaccarello joined Talend as its Chief Marketing Officer. She has brought her extensive marketing experience, focusing on the SaaS industry, and her great track record as the engine behind accelerating the growth of the fastest-growing SaaS companies in Silicon Valley. With her work, she takes full advantage of “modern digital marketing, branding, and demand generation campaigns” to drive a company’s growth in the category. As CMO, she “will be responsible for directing the company’s marketing organization and leading its branding efforts.”
According to Talend CEO Mike Tuchen, Lauren Vaccarello is a “dynamic leader with a deep understanding of the software industry and proven skills at helping SaaS organizations increase revenue and retain and grow their customer base through cutting-edge marketing techniques.” She was a great addition to a company that wants to expand worldwide.
Prior to joining Talend, Lauren Vaccarello has “held executive marketing roles at AdRoll and Salesforce.” She is an expert in B2B digital marketing, which she shares to the public through her highly-regarded books titled “The Retargeting Playbook,” and “Complete B2B Online Marketing.”
Lauren Vaccarello has also received several industry awards for her work. In 2014, the San Francisco Business Times honored her by including her in their list of “Influential Women in Business.” Also, she has sat on the Google Tech Advisory Council. She is also a sought-after speaker, having spoken at ad:tech, South by Southwest, ClickZ Live, eMetrics and the Online Marketing Summit.
Jerome Knyszewski: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Lauren Vaccarello: Talend has a unique approach to how we think of data across the industry. We believe our purpose is to help businesses make difficult decisions. We know executives spend a lot of time arguing over data quality vs. making decisions, and we put a lot of time in addressing the trust issue so executives can make decisions and not argue. Talend uses its own products, and we stand by our technology 100%.
Jerome Knyszewski: Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Lauren Vaccarello: Take time for yourself, and don’t forget to put on your own oxygen mask on first. Take a trip or vacation when you can. For me personally, it’s vitally important to exercise and get outside if possible. Encourage your colleagues to do physical activity as well. Take a break from mental activity from day to day. People often quit because they’re burnt out. Taking time off helps ensure our mental well-being.
Jerome Knyszewski: None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Lauren Vaccarello: Yes — two. Kraig Swensrud was CMO at Salesforce and my boss when I worked there. When his direct report quit, he had the option to promote me or hire someone new to oversee digital for Salesforce. He said, “I would rather make a bet on you instead of hiring someone else.” This vote of confidence changed the entire trajectory of my career. I learned so much from him as a leader about the craft of marketing, and I take this knowledge with me every day.
George Hu was COO at Salesforce during my tenure and is one of the smartest and most detail-oriented people I’ve ever worked for. George pushed all of us to be our very best. I learned never to settle and how to examine our business inside and out. I would not be who or where I am today if George hadn’t pushed me to do this.
Jerome Knyszewski: OK thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. The title of this series is “How to take your company from good to great”. Let’s start with defining our terms. How would you define a “good” company, what does that look like? How would you define a “great” company, what does that look like?
Lauren Vaccarello: A good company can deliver incremental improvements — a great company is willing to push forward to transform and inspire everyone to do the best work of their careers.
Jerome Knyszewski: What would you advise to a business leader who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a stand-still. From your experience Do you have any general advice about how to boost growth and “restart their engines”?
Lauren Vaccarello: This situation happens in a lot of businesses, and it can be difficult to understand, because what got you to a place of success may not get you to that next inflection point. Taking a step back so you can get an honest look at your business is critical when this happens. Research, dig deep, find new ways to understand what your customers and the industry are looking to achieve. Spend time with your sales and marketing teams. Identify whether you’re going after the right targets. Reassess your products. If your market is saturated, you may stall, so look for adjacent markets or what has worked in the past in terms of execution and what needs to change in the future. Most importantly, don’t idle during this time.
Jerome Knyszewski: Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?
Lauren Vaccarello: I pay close attention to the details. When your business is doing well, it’s easy to see where your success is hiding your sins. If the market is slower, you have the opportunity to assess what’s driving growth and what isn’t. Use this time wisely and get to the philosophical level of your business. For example, you won’t find answers by simply looking at global pipeline growth. It’s imperative that you analyze things from many angles to understand what’s working and what isn’t and then how to adapt accordingly.
Jerome Knyszewski: In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?
Lauren Vaccarello: Employees are often underestimated, but they’re what drives any great company forward. Are you taking time to help them stay abreast of company nuances? Changes to your brand? Keeping them engaged with incentives and company social opportunities while everyone is working from home is difficult, but it’s really important.
Jerome Knyszewski: Great customer service and great customer experience are essential to build a beloved brand and essential to be successful in general. In your experience What are a few of the most important things a business leader should know in order to create a wow! customer experience?
Lauren Vaccarello: You must start with a customer-first mindset and determine how to deliver value in every interaction you have with customers.
Jerome Knyszewski: What are your thoughts about how a company should be engaged on social media? The advisory firm EisnerAmper conducted six yearly surveys of US corporate boards, and directors reported that one of their most pressing concerns was reputational risk as a result of social media. Do you share this concern?
Lauren Vaccarello: The beauty of social media is that it gives you a transparent place to interact with customers and prospects. With all public forums there are inherent risks, but I look at social media as a platform for clear, open dialogue. Social media is an excellent way to engage with your customers and the public. You have the opportunity to continually market the benefits of your products or services.
Jerome Knyszewski: What are the most common mistakes you’ve seen CEOs and founders make when they start a business, and what can they do to avoid those errors?
Lauren Vaccarello: You need to identify why you’re starting the company and the problems you’re trying to solve. Most importantly, know your audience — who you’re selling to — in very specific terms. Be OK with pivoting and staying on the pulse of customer need, especially as you build up the business. If you’re taking over a business or working with someone who is, keep the conversations moving and keep your learning active, so you can adapt as necessary.
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Lauren Vaccarello: I would help to alleviate generational poverty, and in doing so, I would ensure access to family planning and health care for women globally. I would remove any stigma around these issues and give women the ability to start a family when they feel the time is right. It’s important to ensure that power so women can alleviate family poverty and help the community at large.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!