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Over the course of more than 230 episodes of Marketing Trends, we have heard from industry leaders about their strategies and tactics, learned from their wins and their failures, and we’ve looked at the future of the industry and made predictions about what’s to come. 

But no one could have predicted the twists and turns of 2020. In our episode with David Marine, the CMO of Coldwell Banker, he might have said it best:

“Everyone has a plan to get punched in the face. And I think on a global scale, everybody’s been punched in the face in some way, shape or form over the last couple of months….but I give my team a ton of credit and the ability to pivot. …if there’s a marketing term of the year, that would be it. Because we had to look at what we had, let’s not abandoned ship with it, but how does it make sense for today’s environment where we can, where we find ourselves?”

As David said, everyone and everything changed, and so businesses needed to adapt and make decisions on a daily basis that ultimately would impact their bottom lines. Ultimately, campaigns had to end, messaging had to shift, and the way brands interacted with their customers was different than ever before. Empathy led the way, which Mary Hines, the Chief Marketing Officer, US Consumer at Citi, mentioned when she dropped by the show.

“We got together as a leadership team and created a task force to ensure that across everything we do, that we were having the right, appropriate language, tone, and visual imagery in light of this unprecedented time, and to ensure that our offers were relevant. So instead of marketing three times on dining out, which would have really toned us as irrelevant, we shifted to things like restaurant takeout and streaming services — things that were much more relevant to the time. And then recognizing that we were also going into a recessionary event, given the economic impacts, ensuring that we had the right assistance for our customers.”

While we are all still living through unprecedented times, one thing remains true: business carries on. Every marketing leader we speak to understands that fact, and they also know that if they want to continue to succeed, regardless of the changing times, they need a plan. They need to know where the market stands, what their customers need, and how expectations are shifting. Basically, they need data. Or, as Dani Cushion, the CMO of Cardlytics said:

“If you’re not using data to figure out how to make sure that you’re reaching people who are receptive to, or have some kind of higher propensity to buy your advertising, you’re just still spraying and praying.”

There are countless ways that marketing leaders gather and analyze data. One is through the Salesforce State of Marketing and Customer Insights Research Reports. On this episode of Marketing Trends, we invited Chris Jacob, a Product Marketing Leader at Salesforce, to give us insights into those reports, including a deep dive into some of the data that leaders like the ones we bring on this show are using to make decisions about the future of their marketing efforts.

Main Takeaways:

  • Taking Your Pulse: In 2020, every person and every industry had to make adjustments. But those adjustments didn’t happen once and then life kept rolling forward. Every day saw different challenges, which meant that consumers and businesses were forced to constantly adapt. In order to stay on top of everything that was happening in the world of marketing, Salesforce was constantly checking in with and surveying leaders in the industry.
  • Zoom Out: When there are so many insights in a report, it’s easy to get fixated on one data point or audience segment, but it’s important to look at the entire picture. If you only focus on, for example, a big shift in how millennials are consuming content, the other segments of your audience may get ignored, which ultimately will impact your bottom line. Take in the whole picture and make decisions based on everything you know.  
  • Consistency is Key: Consumers reward brands that maintain a consistent set of values. When the world changes or the needs of the consumer base shift, brands should stay true to the key tenets that they set up for themselves, show empathy, and be transparent with the decisions they are making. Those are the only ways to build lasting trust with consumers.

Key Quotes:

“When you’re trying to market to marketers, it’s probably the hardest thing you possibly have to do because they in their own head know all the tricks because they use them themselves as marketers.”

“If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s taught us that we have no idea what’s going on. Every day is unpredictable for so many reasons, macro and micro. And we realized that we needed to get a pulse of what was going on with individual people’s behaviors and just what are people changing now versus what they were doing six and 12 months ago, because people are making fundamentally different decisions.”

“If you are not capturing insights… then you are going to make fundamentally bad decisions as a marketing leader that will directly impact your top and bottom lines.”

“It’s very much about adapting to what the data is saying, but not looking at any individual data point as its own thing.” 

“The aspect of being tone deaf is never more apparent than it has been this year. We’ve seen a lot of that in recent years, and brand’s getting called out for it, but especially this year, tone deafness is something you don’t want to be on the wrong side of, but it also gets very nuanced…. If you say, ‘Look, you know what, I’m going to forego doing discounts this year or within my holiday promotional period, because I’m trying to maintain my staff levels and look after my employees,” great, the majority of Boomers say that that’s what they want to see, and they’d prefer that. But that might actually annoy your millennial audience because they feel like they’re suffering as a result of the economy. There’s no right answer to that, there’s literally no right answer to that. And it’s not until I’m at a hundred percent, one way, a hundred percent of the other, but there’s so much nuance….The short answer to what you should do is empathy. As long as you’re empathetic, you’re probably doing the right thing, but you’ve got to recognize those sorts of things before you can even be empathetic.”

“Your actions have to be congruent with your words and they have to be consistent. You can’t get credit for doing one thing and then the next time you do something completely off what you said three months earlier. If there’s a lasting thing for any brand to understand apart from, you know, using insights and using data to make better decisions, it’s that you’ve gotta be consistent to some sort of core set of values that you have and let that continue to be your guide. And ultimately also be responsive to wherever and whatever’s going on in the world and with your customer base.”


Chris Jacob is responsible for Salesforce’s overall Marketing Cloud platform product marketing as well as thought leadership to inspire marketers to be more holistic in their thinking.

Marketing Trends podcast is brought to you by Salesforce. Discover marketing built on the world’s number one CRM: Salesforce. Put your customer at the center of every interaction. Automate engagement with each customer. And build your marketing strategy around the entire customer journey. Salesforce. We bring marketing and engagement together. Learn more at

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