Episode 08 | Transcript

Chris Zullo: Puzzle Solving, COVID-19 and Future of SFMC

Anthony Lamot: Hello, I’m Anthony from DESelect and in today’s interview, I will be talking with Chris Zullo, Marketing Practice Director at AllCloud. We talk about catchy headlines for blogs and some of the amazing Salesforce projects he did such as a major multi-cloud transformation and health care. You will notice that segmentation is never far away from this talk either. Now regular viewers already notice. But if you have any questions for Chris, just put them in the comments and we’ll take it from there. Meanwhile, relax, sit back and enjoy. Hi, Chris. Welcome to this series.

Chris Zullo: Hey, Anthony. How are you doing?

AL: I’m doing great. I’m so glad to have you on the show. The weather looks a bit better over there than it is here.

CZ: Yeah, it’s certainly sunny but it’s a little chilly this morning.

AL: Well, anything probably beats northern Europe right now. I’m sure. So.

CZ: That’s a fair point. Temperature-wise, anyway.

AL; Right, right. So, could you please introduce yourself to our viewers?

CZ: Sure. Chris Zullo, I’m the Marketing Practice Director at AllCloud and I am a Salesforce MVP as well as a Marketing Champion.

AL: Fantastic. That’s a great amount of titles that, I definitely would love to dive into. But hey, I know it’s something on LinkedIn. Your title says you’re also a puzzle solver. So what does that mean?

CZ: I, what it means is I like to see how things fit together and, you know, not every piece that looks like a fit actually is. So the way I look at it is figure out what are the pieces on the board? Figure out how they should fit together and then figure out the best way to, you know, put those together so I can have a complete view of the picture that I’m putting together.

AL: It sounds like architecture.

CZ: It is, you know, there’s a lot of thought that goes into it. I mean, you don’t typically build a house without putting, you know, pen to paper and creating a blueprint and design and planning. So, yeah, I think that’s a fair assessment.

AL: Well, I’ve seen people try without all that.

CZ: It’s sometimes it can be fun but usually more often than not, it doesn’t end well.

AL: Gotcha. Do you actually play puzzles or games sides, the work puzzles then?

CZ: I do, you know, I don’t do as many, you know, jigsaw puzzles on, you know, the on the tables like I used to. I did actually do that quite a bit in my younger days but I do play a lot of board games with my family. We play multiple times a week and, you know, the whole family. We sit down at the kitchen table and, you know, somebody picks something out of, our stack and we just kinda have a good time.

AL: Fantastic. Well, multiple times a week. Even that’s great. I have a hard time getting together with my friends even once a month. So you’ll have to teach me more about this multiple times a week for game thing later. Could you tell a bit more about your Marketing Cloud journey though?

CZ: Sure, sort of like the accidental admin story you may have heard. I mean, I’ve always been marketing focused or, you know, certainly passionate towards the marketing aspect of the business world. And I’ve worked with a number of products over the years, various tools. And so, you know, when I got into the Salesforce ecosystem, you know, Marketing Cloud wasn’t a thing yet. ExactTarget was a separate tool. And I was actually working with, you know, one of one of their competitors that happens to be, you know, a neighbor of theirs up the road just north of, you know, Indianapolis. And, my focus was, you know, marketing automation and I got into Salesforce through integration. So I was integrating, the tool I was working with, and plugging it into Salesforce and mapping, you know, the fields back and forth. And then as Salesforce started to acquire various components of what is the Marketing Cloud today. I leaned in heavily, and jumped in with both feet starting, with a radian sick, somebody media which is now a social studio among, you know, other acquisitions that are wrapped into that product.

AL: Although today, I heard some rumor but, I should verify this or maybe before saying it on camera, but that some parts of the Social Studio are going to be decommissioned actually.

CZ: Yeah, you know, not sure what they will do with that. I mean, I’ve enjoyed various aspects of it… and it’s certainly one of my favorite, you know, tools and features under the Marketing Cloud umbrella. And so hopefully it’s nothing that I enjoy working with. But yeah, I mean, it’s always good, to prune anything that’s maybe not as relevant or as useful as it used to be. So, I’m not sure what specifically they would pull out, but it be interesting to see where that goes.

AL: Yeah, we’ll check up on that and put it, maybe put the link in the description of the video. Either way for anyone watching, we tend to put resources in the description of either YouTube, or block wherever you’re watching from… going back to you. Chris. In your introduction, you mentioned you’re an MVP since recently your Salesforce Marketing Champion congrats on both of those. Can you explain what these titles mean to you personally?

CZ: Sure. So I’ll start with the MVP title since I’ve had that one a little bit longer than the Marketing Champion. The official definition is most valuable professional. And what it means to me is just an acknowledgement and recognition of, you know, contributions, to the community at large. It’s going above and beyond your day job. You know, we all want to be the best that we can be within our, you know, professional, you know, capabilities if you will. But, you know, stepping out and whether it’s writing blog post or answering questions or otherwise helping others on their path, that’s to me what is… an MVP? And honestly, I, it is a humbling title to have. So, you know, yeah, I think that’s the best way I could describe it. It’s a very humbling title to have because most of the time I don’t feel that I’ve you know, earned that title because it does sound much bigger, you know, and maybe that’s just me over analyzing the title, but… it’s sometimes overwhelming.

AL: But you get front seats at Salesforce Connections.

CZ: That is a huge park that I absolutely enjoy. So, yeah, definitely worth the price of admission which fortunately is free to be in the program. The other one, “Marketing Champion” is, you know, a product specific accreditation and, I won’t say accreditation. But again, another recognition for really leaning into a specific area of the product stack that Salesforce has. And, you know, as I mentioned, you know, I’m very deep in and passionate about the marketing technologies that Salesforce has.

AL: Awesome. Thanks for elaborating on that. Now, recently you wrote an article with a rather provocative title. I think it was called “End the Marketing Cloud”. care to share the story behind that one?

CZ: Yeah, absolutely. That was probably the most enjoyable piece I’ve ever written. Certainly enjoyed throwing that title down which was inspired by Star Wars: The Last Jedi, when Luke Skywalker said, “it’s time for the Jedi to end”. I was like, yeah, yeah, definitely stealing that and.

AL: Awesome. Yeah. I didn’t catch the reference but, it was certainly good clickbait for me personally because I clicked it when I saw it.

Don't miss an update

CZ: Yeah. Well, that was a thing like, you know, it’s definitely the most clickbait title I’ve ever thrown down but, you know, the meat behind that is something that’s been on my mind for years and I’ve you know, I’ve spoken about it with various folks inside and outside Salesforce. But it’s really that the Marketing Cloud as a name is not wholly accurate of everything that it can do. You know, certainly, there’s a number of scenarios where people that use the Marketing Cloud or parts of the Marketing Cloud aren’t necessarily marketing or they don’t view themselves as marketers… you know, for instance, you know, health care, higher education are two that really jump out at me. And it was funny. It was, I think at a Dreamforce years ago that a good friend of mine I know was in a session I had led and was a, it was about, you know, Marketing Cloud and just having a just informal chat after the session with a bunch of folks in the audience. And, you know, I had mentioned, you know, you do one, you’re doing one of two things, with any business or you’re either trying to increase revenue or lower costs. And that was a little too narrowly focused for, you know, somebody that’s in higher education. And, and they gently corrected me on that. And, and it made me think like, you know, what you’re absolutely, right? While both of those are somewhat applicable to virtually any organization that is dependent on funds, going, you know, coming in or going out to support whatever services they’re doing it. A, it was just too narrow. And so, at that point, you know, I realize it’s really much more about the engagement aspect. At the end of the day, there are people on either end conversation whether you realize it’s a conversation or not it is and should be a two-way street. Now, you can’t necessarily talk to everybody directly. But if you are communicating with somebody who wants to hear from, you need to treat that with respect. And so, you know, it’s really about, you know, it’s not just what’s in it for me. It’s what’s in it for you. And so am I providing you value or is it is a two one sided? And so, you know, long story short, you know, the Marketing Cloud I think, is, it needs to be re marketed, needs to be re branded renamed as the “Engagement Cloud” because that’s really much more inclusive because it covers so many channels, you know, it’s not just e-mail it’s not just social, it’s not just mobile, you know, there’s advertising as well. You know, various components to it go into engagement between one or more humans.

AL: It’s a very interesting point and actually not explain like this. It makes me realize that I had similar experiences though I didn’t have the insight as you have, and definitely didn’t write a piece with such a good catchy headline. But I recall reaching out to a local government office because I knew they had Marketing Cloud and thought maybe we can do something for them. So they essentially help with training people who are unemployed or just migrate it. And I reached out to one of their it architects and saying like, hey, we can probably help your marketers, you know, with segmentation et cetera, and he said we don’t have marketers. It’s like how completely missed, the messaging there. So it’s interesting to hear you say that. Yeah, but everyone uses even that phrase.

CZ: One, yeah. And you know, that, that’s interesting because, you know, there’s a number of, you know, government organizations or agencies you know, across the globe including here that use the Marketing Cloud so that, you know, that’s another group again that wouldn’t necessarily see themselves as marketers, but they have the ability or would benefit from using something like marketing.

AL: Absolutely. Yeah. Absolutely. So, I mean, we’ve covered blogging, but Salesforce has a very great ecosystem, huge community people sometimes call the “Ohana”, you know, the term coined by well, the hawaiians, but mostly be in the context of Salesforce. Of course, are there other ways that you’re very active in this Ohana that you contribute?

CZ: You, I’ll certainly enjoy connecting with folks like yourself. So, you know, enjoy, you know, coming on, and having a chat about, you know, marketing technology or engagement, what have you also, you know, really enjoy getting out when we’re allowed to go to various events and connect with people, and help them learn more about, you know, what, you know, part of the possible or how they might, you know, if they’re doing something a certain way, if there may be other, you know, ways to enhance what they’re doing.

So, I really enjoy going to, you know, World Tours, Connections, Dream Force and, you know, various community events a, you know, very personally hurt the earlier this year when… you know, the pandemic really sort of reached a tipping point and travel started getting restricted was literally days away from, you know, going to London to participate in, you know, London calling. And obviously, it shut down a number of other, you know, groups and sessions. I was gonna be a part of like southeast dream. And, and so everything shifted virtual. So while I’ve shifted to do the virtual and it’s still fun. It’s it’s not quite the same as being there in person and connecting with people directly.

AL: I fully agree. I, I’ve always enjoyed my time at Dreamforce and Salesforce Connections especially so much you do make good connections. You have interesting chats, and well, you know, what? Once we’re allowed to go out again, I’ll happily buy you beer at the first or a, in a drink of your choice at the first event we get to meet.

CZ: Now that’d be great.

AL: Great. Now, you already hinted that this earlier you’ve worked several marketing automation solutions. Obviously being a practice leader, you’ve you, you’ve had a fair share of project experience. I guess how does Marketing Cloud differ from other solutions?

CZ: So, I would say it’s one of the few, you know, true in my opinion platforms, there’s a number of, you know, point solutions tools and applications, but very few are have the depth and breadth of the Marketing Cloud. You know, it’s maybe not quite as large as, you know, the core clouds, on the CRM side of Salesforce, like sales service community, what have you? But it is a platform. It’s supporting multiple channels. It can do a number of, you know, heavy lifting… you know, from automation segmentation, you know, journeys what have you? And so it is to me a platform and needs to be viewed as such. It’s not just a simple add-on. It’s not just, it shouldn’t be an afterthought of we need to send some emails, let’s you know, let’s go do this. It is something that… can support most organizations just a matter of like how big of a piece of the Marketing Cloud do you need to accomplish your goals?

AL: Makes sense. And if you look back at some of the projects you’ve done, was there one project that really stood out that was really remarkable to you?

CZ: Honestly, I mean, there’s been a number of those types of projects, but I think the one that stands out the most was a multi-cloud transformation project that I worked with a amazing health care provider here in the States that, you know, really had outgrown it’s inhouse solution that they had actually built to purpose and it got the job done. But, you know, after 10 years and a number of, you know, customizations, it wasn’t as efficient as it was at the beginning, right? So, you know, just helping them with their transformation from the CRM all through the marketing, enabling them to cut down their segmentation from days to minutes like imagine sitting down and writing a query, even the simple query that may still take hours to compile because there’s just so much, you know, technical debt and, you know, just so many, you know, silos to kind of cut through to get everything in order to just to create this one view and being able to just bring that under one roof within the Marketing Cloud and being able to just say, yeah here’s my segment. And a couple of minutes later, it’s there or even faster.

AL: It sounds like a very recognizable story. It seems we have similar project experiences then.

CZ: Yeah, that’s definitely, you know, one that stands out.

AL: And, and that was a multi-cloud, you say?

CZ: That was multi-cloud sales service multiple, you know, external integrations. You know, there was a number of teams. It a, it was a huge project over a year long engagement. You know, the client team was amazing. My project team was amazing. It was.

AL: Can we know which client it was in case you want to give a little shout-out?

CZ: Sure. Care First, health care. Amazing organization up in Maryland.

AL: Fantastic. It sounds like an awesome project, to have been a part of with this customer to you already mentioned segmentation. Now obviously as being an isp provider independent software vendor… I’d be interested to learn, if there are certain custom features that you often hear coming up from customers that are not out of the box in Marketing Cloud despite it being such a wide platform.

CZ: Well, well, two that come out and I think one will be close to home for you. I think, you know, the first one is the preference center just being able to do more than the out of the box preference center, which it gets the job done, but it is very static and there’s only so much customization you can do. So a highly regulated organization or one who really has some strong branding needs will need to step beyond the out of the box preference center within Marketing Cloud. So that’s something that comes up a fair amount. And the other one is segmentation, you know, when, you know, marketing cloud, the way I describe it to people is it’s not rocket science, but it is a little different than maybe what you’re used to in terms of organizing your data and it can be as simple as you need it to be because there are a number of ways to simply segment your data however in more complex and advanced segmentation needs, when those situations arise, you typically have to go into SQL and put some queries in place. And most marketers don’t want to play with SQL and so that sometimes you know, when that comes up. And if they don’t have somebody on staff that is comfortable with, that can be, that can be a challenging transition for them at least at first. So those are the two things that come up a lot.

AL: Yeah, it gave me a little bit of a surprise. We, we have a slide even, in our presentation deck. We call it, the marketing automation hype cycle where people get very pumped up at the start are going to automate everything. They’re gonna have customer 360 multichannel, all the passwords get flung AROUN. And then first campaign happens like wait, we need SQL. And then it gets a little bit roller coaster from that point on. If only there was a solution that could solve that…

CZ: If only.

AL: Only well, on that note, one of the things that obviously I like about Salesforce that it’s an open ecosystem as a Salesforce app exchange, largest B2B app store in the world. So curious if you’ve been working with any apps recently that you would recommend to our audience.

CZ: I mean, first of all, I’ve recently discovered yours. So I’m excited to get more experience with your solutions. But ones that I have worked with recently big fan of Sales Wings that’s an amazing solution again, filling a huge need within Marketing Cloud. So, I know, you recently chatted with Philip and, yeah, and so, big fan of them. Always a huge fan of Litmus as well. You know, I don’t think enough people appreciate, you know, the value that Litmus can bring to their marketing operations, and execution. So those are probably the two biggest from a marketing perspective.

AL: Great. We’ll make sure to add them as well. And absolutely Philip is a great guy. It has made a great solution, great company. So we know, I’m well, yeah, for sure. As, as for us, we’d be happy of course, to give your team a demo and to do an era session or something like that, but we can take that offline. So asides this, are there other pain points for you in the Marketing Cloud currently?

CZ: I think, if there was one, I think it would be in this is no, no, no knock on what customer 360 is bringing to the table. But I think just managing a single view of the customer profile sometimes can be challenging. I think what I would love would be to have one unique key that we don’t necessarily have to worry about. You know, the subscriber key, is the, you know, the golden key if you will to managing and maintaining, you know, a single view of any one person. And, you know, personally, I would love it if, even if it was just behind the scenes and seamless to us, I wish there was a connection to a placeholder if you will, to the Salesforce CRM. There was one unique key that if and when that was ever integrated to the Salesforce CRM, which more often than not, it is, they’d be less juggling, you know, for example, if you use leads and contacts, you need to be more thoughtful around, your contact model, your data model, if you will. And so, you know, there are some challenges when you have a more complex contact model. And I would love that to be simplified without necessarily requiring an, you know, an add on service or requiring, you know, customer to have to go Engage with a, you know, a consultant on, a lengthy process to untangle some of the things. If, if it wasn’t accounted for when they first got started. I mean a lot of this is it’s not an intentional path they go down. But when it comes up, it, can be quite painful.

AL: Absolutely. It’s so easy to make some rookie mistakes even on Marketing Cloud projects that come to haunt you later. In fact, we’re working on a new book right now about such things and the data model because it’s something that we hear clients… yeah, talk about a lot, and partners actually. So we’re going, to write a new book about it. In fact, by the time that this interview with life, it might be already published as well. So we’ll put a link in description here too.

CZ: Awesome. Can’t wait to read it.

AL: Awesome. Yeah. And I would really appreciate the feedback from someone like yourself. Obviously. So what do you think is a future of Marketing Cloud?

CZ: Well, it’s a loaded question. But in a perfect world, I would love to see a best in breed… you know, child if you will, where what was ExactTarget in the various components and a, were one unified an amazing, you know, solution where depending on what your needs were, those various features that make each unique and amazing would be you just again sort of a united front. I think too often people refer to Pardot or Marketing Cloud as if they’re separate entities. Pardot is a part of the marketing cloud. E-mail studios. Actually the name of the tool that you be known as ExactTarget. And there’s a lot of obviously similarities when you are sending emails. Now, they have some very specific features and capabilities that make them very different but the emails e-mail and so I would love for that to be a more cohesive marriage or just like, you know, just sort of merge them into one. Realistically, I don’t know that will ever happen. But in a perfect world, if I could just wave a magic wand, that would be, the result would be when we’re talking about the marketing cloud, a, it’d be the “Salesforce Engagement Cloud” and, you know, the best of Pardot and the best of ExactTarget would be combined into one amazing solution.

AL: Right. I mean, we’re dealing with a lot of legacy from past acquisitions, right? Although… I’ve been a bit out of touch with part to be very frank. I wasn’t originally introduced to marketing automation via part, but I’ve been specializing only on Marketing Cloud in recent years. But the last thing that I saw is that there were a lot of trends going towards part being more part of Sales Cloud, being more on the force com platform, much more components being available in lightning. Perhaps, you know more about that?

CZ: Yeah, they definitely have. I think part had the benefit of, you know, having, you know, being a few years younger than ExactTarget. You know, ExactTarget has been around from the beginning. You know, it’s you know, about the same age as, you know, Salesforce, I’m not sure which one actually came first so I think within a year or two, those two solutions or products were born. But when part came in, they came in with the idea that they were going to leverage Salesforce as much as possible, at least the Salesforce solution. And so, you know, just by default it more naturally fit into, you know, the Sales Cloud design and architecture and has always been more at home if you will. And there have been, you know, phases over the past few years where it was, you know, more sort of positioned as being a part of the sales club at the end of the day. It’s still marketing automation. It’s still, you know, has much more in common with ExactTarget and other tools like it than it does with, you know, with a CRM even though it is a great complement and, you know, has great partnership with it. So, yeah, I love having it in Salesforce and having it look like it just like it’s always been there like it belongs… but I would never, in my own words, you know, say that is a Sales Cloud solution or a Service Cloud solution. It is distinctly different and has very different capabilities and objectives than, you know, the other features that it might be, you know, sharing the same storage with.

AL: Although I do wonder if ever it will become a real, I mean, though the capabilities are different to, it will remain different products. Of course, I do wonder if it would ever become a real part of the force com platform. So that integration is not an issue anymore. First of all, and not just for part but also for Marketing Cloud. And, and I’ve become very careful in speculating about this. But I remember years ago, there was a partner event in Indianapolis and, they gave very strong hints there. Let’s say that Marketing Cloud will become more a part of Force.com. And it seems to me that either that they have changed their mind, but then again, sometimes I still hear hints about this. Maybe it’s just, very hard even for them want I want to take a step at this one.

CZ: Sure. I don’t see that ever happening personally. I think because it was, you know, it started on a different tech stack, you know, to begin with, that would be a monumental shift on the scale… of the like the Titanic dodging icebergs like it was nothing, you know, because that is just such a massive change and shift like that would be a multiple year intensive effort. And by the time that happened, would it even be, you know, sort of I guess up to date on here like, when the transition started like I feel like, the goal post. So, the goal in the finish line would constantly be moving further and further down the road. So I don’t know that they would put that time and financial investment in there as opposed to really making, you know, the connections, the integrations, if you will. So seamless that you don’t even think about it that you, us, you enable it and, you know, the baseline connections and hooks between the two are just so rock solid that you don’t even notice or you worry about that. I think that’s more likely in a perfect world again if I could waive the, and they would all be under the same roof all in the same tech and everything would be, you know, very happy, and you never have issues with, you know, mapping and integration. It would all be sort of a shared resource, love to see it. I don’t know that we will ever see that.

AL: Okay. Interesting. Very interesting. Let’s let’s shift gears for a second. There’s always the elephant in the room these days. We’re living in unprecedented time. So, how has the pandemic changed your working routine? Are there any tips, you care to share?

CZ: So, I mean, I would like to take credit for being a visionary in that regard. But fortunately for me, I’ve been a remote employee for over a decade.

AL: Wow. Okay.

CZ: So, not a whole lot changed for me other than, you know, the travel restrictions, like when I went into an office, I was typically traveling via plane to a client destination that obviously is not desired on either side at this point. So that didn’t really, you know, overall like, my daily routine doesn’t change much. It just means I didn’t have to get down the road.

AL: Gotcha. So do you miss the in-person contact with your customers?

CZ: I mean, I certainly appreciate and value that face-to-face, you know, connection there’s nothing that can replace that. So it’s definitely something I think needs to continue whenever it’s appropriate. But honestly from a, you know, from a daily routine like I’m not wasting time in traffic, commuting, to an office. It gives me greater flexibility in terms of how I spend my time, that, that’s time. I just can’t get back, right? So, you know, very, fortunate that, you know, my commute is seconds as opposed to minutes or hours in some cases, for some folks.

But, you know, I think the biggest thing you know, for those who, you know, maybe are more recent or newer to the remote life. They’re all veterans by now, right? Because they have, they’ve got almost a year under their belt, but I think it’s just really important if you can carve out a dedicated space. I think the biggest challenge I’ve heard from folks is, you know, if they’re working on their, you know, their kitchen table or working from the living room, it, can be challenging to really focus when you’re sitting, you know, on like a very company chair and your laptops, on your knees as opposed to being on a desk where you can sort of maybe have multiple monitors or just things are organized as opposed to the disruptive nature of changing rooms every day based on, you know, your living situation, family roommates, whatever like you might not be able to have that dedicated space but as much as possible kind of carving out, your area and just really normalising it as much as you can.

AL: Right. Yeah, the kitchen would be my doom. I’d be raiding the fridge.

CZ: Yes, no, that’s why it’s I’m on the opposite end of the house, of the fridge.

AL: Great. Alright. So thanks, thanks for sharing those tips. Do you have any closing thoughts that you would like that, you would like to share with our audience?

CZ: No, I just, you know, obviously stay safe… you know, do what you need to do but, you know, just keep in mind we’re all doing the best we can, you know, personally, you know, just be compassionate towards one another. I think there’s a lack of that in the world today professionally, you know, get after it, whatever it is that you’re going after even if it’s not Marketing Cloud. If it’s some other tool or product, there’s so many options for you professionally as well as, you know, from a solution perspective, you know, I love what you’re doing and all the options on the App Exchange. And so it’s just, you know, if you can think of it, there’s a good chance there’s a option available for you and if not make it yourself. And, you know, get after your own dreams. So that’s what I would share.

AL: I love that. And I also, I really think the message about compassion is really on point so great stuff. Chris. It was really a pleasure to have you on today’s interview. Thank you so much for your time.

CZ: Appreciate it.

Discover how our platform instantly optimizes your Marketing Cloud

Discover how our platform instantly optimizes your Marketing Cloud