Talend CMO Lauren Vaccarello on Managing Massive Virtual Events and B2B’s ‘New Nimble’

Editor’s note: This interview is part of Mission North’s “Marketing Risks Worth Taking” series, an ongoing forum with marketing leaders who are sharing their perspectives about adapting to a new reality. 

Lauren Vaccarello is an award-winning marketing executive and the CMO of Talend, a data integration and data integrity company. Lauren’s track record for growth acceleration has benefited notable SaaS companies in Silicon Valley such as Box, Sysomos and AdRoll. But she’s also the author of two books, Complete B2B Online Marketing and The Retargeting Playbook, and the host of the Truth Be Known podcast.

All of that is why we were elated to chat with Lauren for Dispatch’s ongoing Q&A series, which features the sharpest minds in the marketing game. Our conversation has been edited for length.

What is the most important pivot your company made since the pandemic began?

From a marketing perspective, we had to rethink two things. First, we reexamined our messaging. Relevancy and having a deep sense of empathy for what is important to our customers and prospects are critical. Once the pandemic began, we made a major pivot in how we showed up in the market. 

Second, we had to shift how we reached our audience. Since in-person events are currently not an option, we moved everything from field marketing and our user conference, Talend Connect, to virtual platforms. Both the new messaging and the shift to virtual have been incredibly successful. For example, our (normally offline) May 2020 Talend Connect became three virtual events, which included health and wellness sessions and live entertainment. We had over 2,300 attendees around the globe. 

In 2019, [ventilators maker] Vyaire Medical kicked off a digital transformation initiative, and they were very thoughtful about how they developed their data foundation. The pandemic hit and because they had a solid data foundation in place, they were able to quickly pivot and use that data infrastructure to optimize their supply chain.”

Will these things remain part of your company’s way of doing business?

Absolutely. Virtual events will continue to be key for our marketing programs even when we have the opportunity to host and attend events in person. 

What’s an example of a B2B company that was ready for COVID-19?

In 2019, [ventilators maker] Vyaire Medical kicked off a digital transformation initiative, and they were very thoughtful about how they developed their data foundation. The pandemic hit and because they had a solid data foundation in place, they were able to quickly pivot and use that data infrastructure to optimize their supply chain. Over the course of a few weeks, [Vyaire Medical was] able to increase ventilator production by 20X—they went from producing 30 a week to 600 a day! This is a great example of the power of digital and data transformation.

What are B2B CMOs most concerned about right now?

The amount of agility needed for B2B marketers is like nothing I’ve seen before. Every marketer needs to continuously learn, grow and adapt to the changing world. Many B2B CMOs are not just concerned about hitting our growth targets, but also the potential burnout of our teams. We need to ensure our people find the balance and take care of themselves.

Quarterly planning is great, but we need to make incremental changes as the market evolves.”

How should B2B CMOs plan right now? 

There is no such thing as business as usual anymore. As leaders, we should have a North Star to point our teams towards, but we need to be adaptable. Quarterly planning is great, but we need to make incremental changes as the market evolves.

How has this pandemic changed the whole idea of “being nimble” for marketers?

Nimble is the new norm! More than ever, marketers need to think on their feet daily. Be flexible and amiable to trying new methods. The pandemic is difficult in so many ways, but incredible progress can be made during times of adversity. Now is the time to tap into your creative, out-of-the-box ideas and figure out how to move forward gracefully.

What’s the most important takeaway as a businessperson from all of this?

How to help my team to excel in the midst of an ongoing crisis and draw on reserves I never knew I had. These reserves need to be replenished with self-care to ensure my strength and calm through challenging times.