Intro: Maybe big data has gotten too big. Whether you’re a B2B marketer or a consumer brand, your data needs to be viable, relevant, and accessible so that Stirista can help you retain customers, acquire customers, and make it personal.
Vin: Welcome to The Marketing Stir podcast by Stirista, probably the most entertaining marketing podcast you’re going to put in your ear. I’m Vin, the producer here at Stirista. The goal of this podcast is to chat with industry leaders and get their take on the current challenges of the market, and we’ll have a little fun along the way. In today’s episode, Lauren Sallata, chief marketing officer at Ricoh North America, chats with us about how taking ownership of knowledge and experience with technology can disrupt the world of marketing. Give it a listen.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to another episode of Stirista’s The Marketing Stir. I, of course, am your host Vincent Pietrafesa, the vice president, B2B products and partnerships here at Stirista. It is great talking to you, our listeners. Thank you so much for listening and thank you so much. It’s over these months and the summer, we’re going to conferences. I was just at a conference called BattleFin at the Intrepid, and guess what? People were saying, ” I listen to your podcast. I love your podcast.” Well, I love you, sir. I love you, ma’am. Thank you for saying that to me. It’s a cool feeling. It’s a new feeling. Not many people come up to me and saying or recognizing us. So, that’s nice. We really do appreciate it. It’s all because of the listeners. If they’re your first time joining, we are The Marketing Stir brought to you by Stirista. Let’s talk about who Stirista is just for a moment. That’s all. We just talk about ourselves for 10 to 15 seconds. It’s a short elevator ride. Stirista, we are a marketing technology company. We own our own business to business data, business to consumer data. We also own the technology to help push to that data to help companies get new customers. Email, display, OTT, connected TV. We own our own DSP. That’s a lot of acronyms I just hit you with, more than I’ve ever used in my life. But email me, email@example.com. That is how confident I am. I just gave all of you my email address. The other thing I’m confident in is this man’s tennis game and his leadership skills, my CEO, the co- founder, my co- host of Stirista, Mr. Ajay Gupta. What’s going on, Ajay?
Ajay Gupta: Hey, Vincent. I am doing well. We have had a lot of rain in San Antonio. It’s getting pretty humid. So, we are in the summer months already here in Texas.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Ooh, that is not fun. I hope you’re not inviting me out there for one of those summer months. But usually it’s usually one of them you have myself come out and the rest of the team. But ooh, am I dreading it. The rain is a good thing. The rain is cooling it maybe a degree, so that’s not bad. But how’s everything else out there?
Ajay Gupta: It’s good. It interferes with my tennis career, but otherwise rain is good. It helps me with my afternoon naps on the weekends, that’s for sure.
Vincent Pietrafesa: You know what I get asked a lot, Ajay, as I am at these conferences? They’re like, ” Does Ajay really play tennis? Is he good at tennis?” And maybe just people, they don’t think that you’re good at tennis. I’m like, ” Look, do I like giving him credit all the time? But yes, he is good at tennis. I’ve seen it myself. And yes, he is good at tennis. You should play it one time.”
Ajay Gupta: Well, I’m glad they’re not asking you about ping pong because your answer might be slightly different on that.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah. He is good at ping pong, but the day I played him, he was not, ladies and gentlemen, and boy is he still holding a grudge four years later. So, yeah, I just passed my fourth year here, Ajay. Fourth year at Stirista. Known you for 13 years. I feel like I’ve been here 13 years. In a good way. In a good way, people. But yeah, just celebrated the four-year anniversary.
Ajay Gupta: I believe we will be celebrating your fourth anniversary with a ping pong match this December.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Nice. That’s it. The rematch. I’m going to train. That was untrained and I beat you. So, if I start training, forget it. You would never do it because if you lose again, it’s not good. If I win again-
Ajay Gupta: Oh, you can be sure I’m practicing two hours a day.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Just for that moment. That was about four Christmases ago, people, that that happened. But Ajay, yeah, we’re going to be hanging out soon. You’re coming to New York. We’re going to a conference that is honoring Stirista, so that is going to be great. But let’s get into great. I am so, so excited about this episode for a variety of reasons, ladies and gentlemen. One, our guest. She’s awesome. Two, the company. Ricoh. You’ve heard of them. I’m so excited to get her take on that industry and that field. That’s an industry we have not talked about in over 140 + episodes of The Marketing Stir. So, please, ladies and gentlemen, a warm welcome to my northeast friend, ladies and gentlemen, Lauren Salatta. She is the chief marketing officer of Ricoh North America. Warm welcome. What’s going on, Lauren?
Lauren Salatta: Hello everyone. Hi, Vincent. Hi, Ajay. Nice to see you.
Vincent Pietrafesa: It’s great to see you. Great to talk to you again, Lauren. I’ll never forget that name. That is my wife’s name. And Sallata, I love it. It’s the name. We’re friends already. That’s always a great start, when you meet people and you’re like, ” This is my friend already.”
Lauren Salatta: Already.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Doesn’t always happen, right?
Lauren Salatta: Yeah.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Lauren, it’s great to see you. Great to hear from you. Lauren, get right into it. So, people have heard of Ricoh obviously, but talk to us about your specific role, the company. You’re chief marketing officer of Ricoh North America. Talk to me about that, some of your day- to- day. We’d love to learn more.
Lauren Salatta: Sure, thanks so much. So, Ricoh is a digital services company that innovates around information management. So, things like connecting, securing, managing, unlocking insight from unstructured data, things like that. And whether that information comes from a printed page or a digital file. So, it’s really the next evolution of what would’ve been a heritage business in printing, which has very quickly evolved into a digital and digitalized business provider. So, the ultimate outcome though, what we like to provide, is more insight for our customers about their business and how they can create more efficiency and more value for their customers. And my role at Ricoh North America is chief marketing officer. I’m responsible for all the things that you would imagine, brand, demand, communications, MarTech and ops, sales enablement and portfolio across both the US and Canada.
Vincent Pietrafesa: That’s a lot of responsibility there. Lauren, one of our staple questions, we have two of them. One of them is how one gets started in marketing. Because it’s not always a direct path and if it is a direct path, well, that’s unique based on all the people we’ve talked to. So, talk to us a little bit about how you got into just marketing to begin with.
Lauren Salatta: Absolutely. So, I was a comms and English double major in undergrad. And so, a little bit of a circuitous route to get to what was my first job, believe it or not, at the Miss America organization as a PR coordinator, which led me to getting eventually a job after that at an agency and having an account executive role. And working at the PR agency exposed me to different businesses and industries and I really loved the strategy aspect of what I was doing. So, I ended up, after a couple of years of that, segueing over to the client side, which at the time was a telecom and tech company, and honestly never looked back. I’ve worked in tech companies my whole career.
Ajay Gupta: Lauren, tell us a little bit about some of the marketing strategies that you’re utilizing right now. What channels are working and what’s not working for you?
Lauren Salatta: Yeah, absolutely. So, one really interesting asset that we have to work with as an enterprise tech company is that we have a very strong installed base of customers up and down the pyramid, so to speak. So, a lot of enterprise customers, but we also have a lot of SMB customers. And so, one of the things that, as I have joined the company about a year and a half ago, we’ve been leveraging account- based marketing quite a bit. And so, it’s definitely a crawl, walk, run as we build out a center of excellence for account- based marketing. But so far, the work and the approach is resonating. Whether it’s one- to- one, one- to- few or one- to- many activations, it’s a tremendous methodology that I’ve used in other roles, but especially in a B2B company when we’re pursuing industry- specific strategies and business growth. So far, it’s helped both our sales and marketing teams focus on building relationships, driving revenue opportunities and increasing our reputation as a digital services trusted partner. Beyond that though, if you go deeper and you look at the customer segmentation, as I mentioned, we have what we call the pyramid of fewer customers at the top at the enterprise level and then mid- market and SMB. We do have to contemplate the persona, the journey, and then what tactic really resonates best depending on what we’re trying to sell and market. Sometimes that looks like paid social or paid content. Sometimes that’s in- person events. It really just depends on what we’re trying to do, whether it’s a product launch or building some awareness that full funnel will eventually lead to lead gen and demand creation.
Ajay Gupta: How does marketing fit into your larger organization at large? Because you guys are quite a large company, so what role does marketing play and then what departments do you find yourself working with most closely?
Lauren Salatta: Yeah, such a great question. I was recruited here to really rebuild marketing. The team I was very fortunate to inherit and one that we’ve since added team members and talent from outside the company is really oriented around product, product- centric company. And the challenge and remit for me was to help our CEO and the rest of the C- suite orient us to be more of a customer- centric company. So, directly answering the question, we have a very strong C- suite leadership team. We’re highly aligned to the business strategy. But specifically, I work very closely, as an example, with our chief human resources officer. She and I and our respective teams have worked over the last year to put together an employee value proposition. And all of that work has led to a recruitment marketing campaign that we’ve been seeing really incredible increases in our employee engagement scores, as just one example. Another example is my partnership with all of our sales leaders. So, we have different channels to market with sales. We have direct and indirect, and working very closely with them to really outline, what is our go- to market strategy? Where do we need to place bets? What do our campaigns need to look like and how does that drive to our business plan each year? So, one of the things that I always challenge my teams is to really put their business hat on. Why are you doing that campaign? How does it drive the business? And it really is important that we do that as marketers, really understand the business objectives. And put another way, some people would say, have a general manager mindset about what you’re doing and really become part of what helps to drive growth in the business.
Vincent Pietrafesa: I love hearing that, Lauren, and especially our listeners will like hearing the fact that you as a CMO are constantly working closely with sales. The age- old battle, sales and marketing. So, I’m glad you touched on that. Let’s talk about you. You’ve had a lot of experience in marketing. In what ways have you seen marketing change, develop, and in what ways has it remained constant?
Lauren Salatta: Hands down, technology has completely disrupted, not just marketing, pretty much every functional area in the business, but especially marketing. I think it’s required a whole different set of skills in terms of being data- driven, technology savvy. And as I just mentioned a moment ago, I always expect my team to take ownership of their own knowledge and experience with technology. So, not to rely on others to help them explain it or even operate it for them. And then some aspects have really not changed at all. When you ask the question or think about, ” What is your why,” the why of marketing is always to bring in the voice of the customer and the outside in into the company. And surely that has remained over time the one thing that’s probably unchanged. How we do that has certainly changed.
Vincent Pietrafesa: And Lauren, have there been any pivotal moments or people in your career that helped you get to where you are now, and what did that experience teach you about marketing or business?
Lauren Salatta: Such a great question. And I think my story, and I feel so fortunate to have had this experience, early in my career, I had a manager who really was a real coach mindset. His avocation was coaching football, and really became a mentor over time. And so, one of the things that he brought to me at some point in my marketing role doing marketing things, and he said, ” One of the things that will help you in your career is to really learn how to manage a P& L and to be client- facing.” And this was years ago, so pre- digital, pre- social, pre all of that. And I said, ” Oh, I’m not really interested in that. I like marketing. I’m just going to keep doing my thing over here.” And he said, no, ” No, I’d like to put you in this role just for a little while so you can really understand how to manage the P& L, how to do client delivery, how to handle client situations.” And I did it. I said, ” Okay, fine.” Did that for about two years under his mentorship. There just are no words to describe how impactful and important that was to my career trajectory. So, when we talk about marketers having, at any level of the organization, certainly the CMO, having the mindset of a general manager, that moment and that mission that he had in mind for me put me on a path to really understanding why marketing’s important. And not just as a support function, but really setting the stage for me to drive it as a profession of growth. And I did eventually spin back into marketing, and I think after that went into a strategy role and eventually back into some more leadership roles. But it really gave me a great understanding of the business, why we do what we do to drive growth and retention in our customer base. And it was a very pivotal moment for me, and I’ve always brought that forward. Anybody that I’m mentoring, my own team, my leaders, their leaders, my skip levels, it’s very important to understand what the role of marketing can do. And especially now when you add in all of the change with technology, it’s becoming more and more important that people have that T- shaped marketer where they’re not just two miles deep in their particular discipline area, but they’re a mile wide and they really understand the enterprise and the business of the enterprise.
Ajay Gupta: Oh, that’s a great, very comprehensive answer. Thanks for sharing. Now, you’ve mentioned you’ve been brought in to rebuild the team. Would love to just understand what your general philosophy is on management outside of marketing per se.
Lauren Salatta: Absolutely. So, at Ricoh we have something that’s called the culture of excellence, and it’s really a collection of behaviors that we hold ourselves and each other accountable. Things like aspirational mindset, root cause analysis, data- driven analysis. And there are some attributes like open- mindedness and inclusiveness, adaptability and being future- focused. And we have rolled this out. It’s a program. We have playbooks and training and KPIs around this as a leadership team. And we also have a very open culture where our CEOs on the front lines with our front-line employees, as well as doing things like Coffee with the CEO on a regular basis. So, all of these things have created a culture that really supports the idea of servant leadership. And I really try to replicate all of those things and walk that walk every day with my team. So, one of the things that was very important to me when I took this role is, as I mentioned earlier, putting marketing back together and also transitioning it from a product- centric product launch team to more of a customer- centric, customer- focused team. And so, one of the ways tactically that I’ve done that is build what I call a community of practice within marketing. So, I don’t have what I call an all-hands call. It’s actually a community. And we’ve built, over the last year and a half or so, a monthly meeting of our community and we leverage all the tools that we have available to us, things in Teams and chat and things like that. And we really encourage people to speak up and have it to be interactive. We focus on a culture of recognition and a culture of collaboration. And that has really, really helped bring about 400 people together between the US and Canada as an integrated North American marketing team.
Ajay Gupta: Lauren, the dynamics of the workplace are obviously changing with a lot of people working from home and some people doing it in a hybrid way. So, what techniques have you guys used when it comes to the work from home culture and how do you keep the morale and engagement levels up?
Lauren Salatta: Right. Super important. So, this community of practice we have in place every month, but then we also take it on the road. So, my team is scattered all over. There’s no one central hub of employees. I personally travel to the hubs to spend time with the teams, but I also encourage the most senior person that’s in that geographic location to, whether the employees are marketing or not, set up social activities, create connections with people both within our organization and outside of our organization, and really just place a great focus on increased communication. One of the things that we do is a marketing insights called the Marketing Brief Internal newsletter that really helps keep our entire marketing community of practice connected on what’s happening, what’s new, what success points can be shared, et cetera, so that all of those folks, no matter where they sit geographically, feel connected into a greater community and team of people.
Vincent Pietrafesa: And Lauren, I want to get back to some of the marketing there. Ricoh North America, you have a wide variety of clients, different sizes. You think about what you do, it definitely varies. So, how do you adapt your marketing to that? Are there different tactics that you utilize to account for that?
Lauren Salatta: Absolutely. So, one of the things, as I mentioned, we have the segmentation that we’ve built for our customer base looks like a pyramid. So, at the top of the pyramid we have enterprise customers that are some of the large 100 companies that you would think of buying enterprise- wide solutions. And in those cases, we have a bespoke dedicated sales team and bespoke dedicated vertical marketing team that really works on account- based marketing, executive engagement tactics, innovation discussions, things like that. As you move down the pyramid, we have more in the mid- market and in SMB, much smaller customers. And really, depending on what part of the portfolio we’re selling or marketing, we have a lot of field force salespeople in the field. But one of the things that we are in the process of doing is a project around digital customer engagement. So, how do we make self- service a reality for some of our smallest customers and how do we enable them to serve themselves? So, how can they renew their contract online, perhaps present them with another offer for other services? And so, we’re working on building that out right now, and we would use some of the communication tactics that you would imagine through email marketing, driving activity, also through paid search on certain parts of our portfolio, et cetera. So, it really does range depending on what we’re trying to accomplish.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah. No, it definitely does. Thanks for breaking down some of those tactics. Lauren, I want to talk to you about something that makes me smile because it’s something that I know you’re passionate about, Ricoh is passionate about, and I don’t think anyone’s ever mentioned it on one of our podcasts. Ricoh has a notably high acceptance rate for candidates who are looking for jobs. That’s amazing. What elements do you think of Ricoh’s culture is attracting these applicants and how’s that culture seen in Ricoh’s day- to- day?
Lauren Salatta: Yeah. I think in a word, it’s about inclusiveness. Our culture is one of inclusivity. It’s one of open- mindedness. I think that that comes across in our talent experience and how we treat our candidates through that process. We also have, as I mentioned, the culture of excellence, which has attributes for behaviors that we hold ourselves accountable and others. And we walk that walk all the time. We have different, what we call the Ricoh Way groups. And so, we have employees that get together, and they champion different projects, whether it’s around innovation or community involvement or DE& I. And all of those things float to the surface when we’re interviewing candidates and presenting ourselves online and helping to show what it’s actually like to be part of the Ricoh culture. And one of the things that we did, which is I think driving that high rate of acceptance, is not only that very close planning on the app that the talent applicant experience, but also featuring our own employees. If you look at some of the creative assets that we have in the market, those are our employees. We did photography of them across the country. We’re doing another round. But we featured them and we let them tell their story about why they love working at Ricoh so much. So, I think all of those things taken together are the reason for our success with that level of acceptance rate.
Ajay Gupta: And this is a fun one and one of the stable questions we ask all of our guests. I’m sure with your job title you get a lot of unsolicited LinkedIn messages, so would love to know what’s one that gets your attention and what’s one that really annoys you.
Lauren Salatta: I think the answer is the same. I think it’s relevancy and it’s both sides of the coin. I think getting my name and company correct on the first go probably matters a little bit. And the offer itself, does it relate to my remit? Am I the correct person for the offer? Does the offer even support an enterprise company? So, some of those basics sometimes seem a little elusive with some of the mail that I get, but by the same token on the other side of that coin, when those things are cared for and thought about, then it’s a home run. So, I think it’s just maybe doing the homework to make sure the alignment is there and it’s the old adage of the right message at the right time for the right person.
Ajay Gupta: And Lauren, a lot of our viewers are young marketing professionals that are starting out or early stage of their career. So, what lessons do you have to share about things that you wish you knew when you were first starting out?
Lauren Salatta: Well, certainly that change is constant and don’t feel that… Even if you’re in a role that you don’t particularly care for, there’s always something that you can learn while you’re there. And that change is constant. So, putting the time in, putting the work in, building out your network, taking risks that are calculated, good risks in your career, speaking up for yourself in the process of looking for roles and advocating for yourself when you’re in a role, and then putting your business hat on. Know the business like a general manager. Build talent around you. Build connections inside the organization. And know your numbers and have a long game if you’re in leadership. Have a long game and really plan out the direction that you would like your career to go. And it doesn’t always go in that straight line, but certainly have a vision for that.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Great advice, Lauren. Talk to us, before we get into our personal side of the podcast and get to know you a little bit better, another question about Ricoh North America. How do you, in your words, feel that Ricoh separates itself from its competitors and how it’s different from some other companies that you might’ve worked for?
Lauren Salatta: Yeah. I think the focus on innovation here is just unparalleled, along with the focus on the customer. Interestingly, as a product- led company for many years, Ricoh has had a very unique focus on the customer. We have a lot of front-line employees in our managed services business, for example, that sit off site inside the customer organization. And that position has really earned us a level of trust inside the customer organizations and has allowed us to build relationships inside the customer organization in a way that I don’t believe our competitors have had the opportunity to do. So, what we call our Last Mile has really afforded us an opportunity and certainly differentiation in that regard. And I think back to the innovation question. We are constantly innovating through our digital services center. We have a co- innovation process and pipeline that we work on every day. So, we have a what we call Sense, Innovate and Adapt mantra, and it’s a little bit of an operating model around how we sit with customers or sense, and then we adapt what we’re doing. So, it’s this constant refreshing of, because of that change and because change is so constant, constantly looking at where we have insights in the market in our customer base and moving that information and insight into the business so that we can make good decisions. So, I think that is what distinguishes us, as well as our total commitment to employees as well.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah, and that acceptance rate. That’s always great to hear. Like I said before, it made me smile because it’s something that I know you’re passionate about and it’s great to hear. It is great to hear. So, Lauren, let’s get to know you personally. You are up in the northeast there outside of the Philly area. Are you a Philadelphia sports fan? I don’t know if that-
Lauren Salatta: I am. I am.
Vincent Pietrafesa: I knew it was too good to be true. You’re still my friend now. I was like, ” Oh no.”
Lauren Salatta: We can still be friends.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah. That’s awesome. So, what do you like to do for fun in your spare time there? Talk to us about some of the hobbies that you have.
Lauren Salatta: Sure. Thanks for the question. So, a fun fact right now is that I’m actually a part- time roadie/ publicist/ webmaster for my son’s band. And he’s part of a foursome. These kids, objectively speaking, are pretty talented. So, on the weekends we take it on the road, and we’ve been enjoying spending a lot of time on that pet project. So, super, super excited. They’ve been together for about eight months. And so all of the eight parents involved are working side hustles to get them off the ground.
Vincent Pietrafesa: That’s awesome. What’s the name of the band? Let The Marketing Stir people hear. Yeah, what’s the name?
Lauren Salatta: Awesome. It’s Sunrise Cries, and they’re at sunrisecriesmusic.com. And you can check them out. They’ve been playing around the tri- state area. In fact, we were just in Brooklyn last weekend for the Fifth Avenue Fair. Lots of fun stuff.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Oh, that’s amazing. That’s amazing. Yeah, that’s a good mom. That’s a webmaster. That’s amazing. And when you’re not doing that, Lauren, what do you like to enjoy?
Lauren Salatta: Oh, I love to read. I love to do some photography, work out, relax, and just spend time with my family.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah. That’s amazing. That’s another first, the band. TI love hearing that. That’s so awesome. Lauren, anything you want to share, parting words with our amazing listeners, the floor is yours.
Lauren Salatta: Oh, thank you so much. It’s been a great opportunity to chat with you both, and certainly the world is constantly changing every day. There are many generations in the workplace. Everyone has some value, and I think the idea of building those connections and relationships up and down and across the organization are really what ultimately leads to success. And really, just get out there and make your aspiration come true.
Vincent Pietrafesa: I love it. Thank you so much for spending some time with us. My New Philadelphia friend Lauren Sallata, ladies and gentlemen. She’s the chief marketing officer at Ricoh North America. That’s Lauren. I, of course, am Vincent. That’s Ajay. This has been another episode of The Marketing Stir. Thank you so much for listening and we’ll talk to you soon.
Vin: Thanks for listening to the Marketing Stir podcast by Stirista. Please like, rate and subscribe. If you’re interested in being a guest on the podcast, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and thanks for listening.