Salesforce CMO Michael Lazerow Talks About Customer Companies

Insights from a digital vet


Age 39

New gig CMO, Salesforce Marketing Cloud

Old gig Founder, CEO, Buddy Media 

How has your role evolved after Salesforce acquired Buddy Media?

What’s changed for me personally is I’ve gone from a very focused view of the world, which is social media, to a much broader customer view. The viewpoint that we have is that every company needs to connect with its customers in a whole new way, and some of the best marketing starts with selling and customer service. It’s really a journey about how do you build a next-generation customer platform that lets you connect with customers in very meaningful, deeper and new ways.

How have the two companies come together?

It really feels like a startup, especially in this world where marketing is something newer to Salesforce. But there is a commitment and excitement to really help our customers succeed by being better customer companies, and that all starts with marketing.

How is mobile changing your business orientation?

Everything has to be mobilized. I don’t have a computer on my desk, but rather mobile devices. It’s how we work now, from the device that’s in our pocket. Being able to have all your customer and marketing information there and on the cloud was something that we weren’t necessarily focused on at Buddy Media, but it’s absolutely apparent that’s the way the world is going.

Are you seeing any interesting shifts in how consumers are using social?

I think we’re in a post-social world where everything is social and that it’s just the way we live. We don’t like being disconnected from our mobile devices, we don’t like being disconnected from our data and our social contacts, and we certainly don’t like being disconnected from our friends—and when we are, it doesn’t feel like we are whole.

How does video fit into your post-social world?

Video is the enduring, long-lasting form factor of content. If you give people the option of reading or viewing, they’re going to view. Pictures are worth a thousand words, and video is worth a million words. You can say more in six seconds on Vine than you could say in 140 characters or a blog post many times. It’s the purest form of content, and now because of broadband Internet and the mobile devices in our pocket and the cost of storage going down, video is no longer just the property of very large media conglomerates.

What trend has you most intrigued right now?

The most interesting thing to me, as I talk to customers, is that we’re moving away from a page-centric world, where it’s all about what happens to our Web pages, to a people-centric world. It changes what you do when you can treat people as people and not anonymized cookies.

You started Buddy with your wife in 2007. How has the definition of entrepreneur changed since then?

In our world, which is mainly venture-backed tech companies, the main change that I’ve seen has revolved around how inexpensive it is to grow companies. The costs have gone down in terms of what you need, while the opportunities have broadened. You could have never had a 12-person company create a billion dollars worth of value like Instagram without consumers changing their lives to become digital citizens and business realizing that this is how they have to work, how they have to market, how they have to sell, how they have to service. When we started doing this in 1998, half our friends didn’t have cellphones. Pretty amazing that now, 15 years later, they’re ubiquitous. 

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