What does it take to bring a rich experience to consumers as a leading commerce media platform? How does a global technology company help marketers and media owners reach their goal? Get ready to tune in and join Vijay Damojipurapu on today’s show. In this episode, Nola Solomon, The SVP of Go-to-Market at Criteo, shares the value Criteo brings to consumers in the marketplace and how she empowers the sales team and channels. Vijay and Nola also touch on how the business has evolved. Hear more insights as Nola shares more about Criteo. Tune in to this episode now!
Listen to the podcast here
Criteo: Bringing A Richer Experience Through Impactful Advertising With Nola Solomon
Happy 2023 to all of you. This is the first episode in 2023. Here I am. I‘m super excited to receive, welcome, and host yet another go-to-market leader. Welcome to the show, Nola Solomon.
It’s exciting to be here. Thanks for having me.
I‘m super excited. I‘m sure our audience is excited to hear what you have to share, as well as your journey and story. Your official title is you are the SVP of Go–to–Market at Criteo. We will dive into a lot more of your journey and what you do at Criteo. Before we get there, I always have the signature question I ask all my guests. I open the show with this, which our audience love. How do you define go-to-market?
I define go-to-market as thinking about how you bring what is coming out of products into the marketplace so that it starts to bring value to the customers that it’s meant to be for and for the business that is producing it. There’s a lot that goes into bringing something from products out into the market where it becomes usable and revenue-generating. Fundamentally, that’s what go-to-market is structured to do. With all of that comes continuing to have a client-centric mindset with everything so that you can help make sure that the products are the ones that the clients need to solve their problems. It’s informing the product strategy that way.
I love that definition. I love the fact that you start with the product. More often than not, a lot of the go-to-market leaders and people I speak with omit the product. They have the notion that it’s mostly the go-to-market teams, which is mostly sales depending on who you speak with. I love the fact that you started with the product, and then you also mentioned describing the value and what it means to the clients and the customers in the marketplace. The key to it all is how you bring it all together, then enable and empower the sales team and the channels.
That’s a key thing because ultimately, you want to be producing products that a customer wants and needs rather than what you think they want to need. You’re out there in the market trying to sell something that nobody cares about. There is an element of having to always have that client-centric mindset of understanding who your customers are, and what their challenges are, and making sure that the product roadmap is reflective of solving those needs. That makes the job of go-to-market a ton easier when you know that you’re bringing something out that’s much needed. It’s about making sure that the value proposition, the messaging, and the enablement of it are clear. It’s a virtuous cycle when it’s working well.
Your title is the SVP of Go-to-Market. I‘ve not seen this a whole lot. I would also predict that we will start seeing more and more of the official function of the title as go-to-market. How do you describe and why did you push on this title of go-to-market?
It’s funny because my name Nola is also not very common. It’s after Woody Allen’s Match Point movie where Scarlett Johansson’s character is named Nola. I met a lot of Nolas but they’re all very young like kids. I expect a new generation of go-to-market leaders to come up in the industries. The funny thing is that it’s a term that is not well understood by industries. Different companies have different definitions of what go-to-market is and what it means to them.
Go-to-market is thematically the essence of everything that is sales-facing. It’s an actual function to “Isn’t that product marketing,” and a component of product management. What was exciting about my role at Criteo was to come on and create the go-to-market function as a center of excellence and as a bridge between the client solutions organization and the product organization. I’m sitting at the epicenter there to be that layer of both communication but also activation and execution for everything that’s coming out of products and everything that’s coming in from the field.
Similarly, there are a lot of close partnerships with marketing, corporate development, and all of the back-office teams as well at the company. It’s an exciting place to be. Originally, there were pockets of this function at Criteo. There were different teams that lived in different places that were doing pieces of go-to-market. When I started talking to Todd Parsons who was our Chief Product Officer at the time about this role, he was like, “We need someone to come in and think about how we do go-to-market as a function at this company.”
That was exciting to me, especially with the fact that with my background, I’ve held a lot of different types of roles that have allowed me to have a 360 view of not only our industry advertising technology but also the different types of functions and roles within a company. I had a clear view of how I would create this.
That’s interesting. The CPO asking you to explicitly build a go-to-market function is cool. I have a lot of other questions specifically on this but let’s backtrack a bit over here. There’s a reason why I want to bring up this question later on. Why don’t you share with our audience about your career journey? You will see where I’m going with this.
I’ll start at the beginning of the AdTech career journey and work my way up. I fell into this industry completely by accident. Anyone who is in AdTech probably has a similar story. It’s a newer industry as well. It’s not something to be learned in school when I was in school. Now, there are classes, and I’m very jealous of those people. After a former life in book publishing, I went on to get my Master’s in London in Child Developmental Psychology. I started working as an ad trafficker at an ad network at the time before programmatic.
It was interesting because I got opened up to the world of AdTech, but I wasn’t super keen on trafficking ads. I was like, “There got to be more fun things to do.” Throughout my career, I was in London for many years. I ended up moving companies from where I was doing the ad operations types roles into doing more business development and account management for publishers throughout the Southern European region and France. I’m half French, so I have the advantage of being able to speak French fluently and sink my teeth on the more publisher sales-facing side and the whole supply side of the industry. In addition to that, programmatic was just starting to blossom.
I was learning what a supply-side platform was as that was becoming something in the space. It was an interesting advantage because it allowed me to understand quite technically how everything works in this very complex ecosystem that we call AdTech. My career then brought me out to Singapore where I spent a couple of years leading the supply team for my company at the time, Millennial Media. We got acquired by AOL. Anyone in the industry who has been in the industry for a while has probably had a stint at AOL.
That was interesting too because it expanded my view beyond Europe to all of APAC. I was traveling around to all the different markets and understanding the different nuances of not just customs but also how businesses operated. That allowed me to think about things from an international perspective, and not a US-centric perspective of “Everything will apply globally.” I ended up coming back to the US after some time in Singapore. I moved into a demand-side platform or a DSP, The Trade Desk, for a role that I was excited about and dig my teeth into the data world.
Everything was becoming clear to me that it was no longer about the ad format itself and only about the content itself. It was also about the audience. The audience is tied in with the data, who are you looking for, and the right user at the right time. It’s that old adage. I got to learn about the data space and all of the different ways that data interconnects in the back end to find the audiences and optimize your campaign so you’re targeting the right moment. You’re able to then measure the impact of your campaign and the ROI.
Learn about the data space and all the different kinds of ways that data interconnects in the backend to find the audiences to optimize your campaign so you're targeting the right moment. Click To Tweet
After that, I ended up running a programmatic revenue team at a hybrid publisher and AdTech company called Dailymotion. That was an interesting role because I had the revenue P&L. We were driving the entire business for the company and about 80% of the revenue. That was a lot of fun in terms of partnerships and thinking about how we keep growing this business.
That brought me eventually to NBCUniversal to lead their programmatic product and strategy under their advanced advertising umbrella, which is moving into broadcast and the CTV world just as streaming was coming up. They were just starting to develop Peacock. I was working on how we enable programmatic advertising there. It was exciting. That was what I was doing when Criteo came knocking.
That’s super interesting and adventurous on your side. You started your career in London and Southern Europe, moved to Singapore, and then came to the US. You‘ve got a very global perspective. I do have a novice question. I‘m more in the B2B world. A lot of the sales happen through sales teams or maybe partnerships and channel members. How does the “sales and revenue gen” happen in the AdTech world?
It’s very similar because it is B2B. A company like Criteo is an advertising technology platform. It’s a SaaS play. It’s selling our technology stack to advertisers and agencies to leverage it to run their media campaigns and do their media buying. We’re dealing with businesses and selling our products to businesses. They’re using our products to then reach consumers to buy their products.
If you go back to your time at NBCUniversal, you were on the other side. Is it the demand side? Is that what you would call it for the ads?
I would call that the supply side. I am now focused on the advertisers and the agencies or those who have the medium or dollars to spend. At NBC and in other parts of my career before, I was on the supply side. I was working with the publishers who have the media inventory to sell. When you go on a website and see an ad, that’s an ad space they’re selling.
I was a novice in the space. Supply and demand are the whole thing now.
It’s the most ubiquitous yet complex thing at the same time.
My exposure is to the OTT world and cord-cutting world. I was at Microsoft as a marketing manager back then for IPTV platforms. One of our big customers back then was AT&T U-verse and others across the world like Deutsche Telekom, Singtel, and Bell Canada. I got to see more on the tech but also to some extent, the content side and how things were changing from cable and satellite to more of IPTV and eventually the cord-cutting.
Now, cord-cutting is mainstream. Five to ten years ago, that was not. It was still early days. It sounds like because of the shift in the business model, all these content producers had to rely on a different revenue stream, which is now the ad space, the programmatic, and the data–driven. If you can talk about that and how the business model has evolved for NBCUniversal and Peacock would be a great example there.
NBCUniversal has always been pretty innovative. They are thinking first and foremost, “How do we continue to be first in all the spaces?” It is an exciting place to be. What was fun about the role there is that they were leaning into programmatic in a way that some of their peer sets weren’t. For instance, there was a great understanding that this was a growing part of the space. At the same time, it was also balancing the reality of this giant broadcasting business.
This is what all of these broadcasters deal with and also publishers in general. They have had a big direct sales business and are used to transacting directly with the advertisers themselves. They were handling IOs and running campaigns on their own in their stacks, and outsourcing this to AI and technology to do it for them with some inputs here and there. Because of the efficiencies that programmatic brought to the space especially for the advertisers, it allowed for a lot of abilities to do things quickly and activate quickly, to measure and create real tactical ROI that could be seen.
That has continued to improve. It’s still a little behind on the CTV side but it’s making huge strides even from a couple of years ago. CTV continues to be a growing space. It became obvious that you have to follow where the money is, but you can’t blindly go there. For somebody as large as NBC and their peer sets, they have to be balancing all of the different ways that they interact with their buyers.
That’s pretty cool given that you’ve had such a diverse set of roles and responsibilities even across geographies. I don’t know if you have kids or not, but on the personal side, how would your parents describe what you do and what your role is?
My dad in particular is funny about it. My parents pretty much get it in the sense that they’re like, “We get that you are helping facilitate the serving of ads to me.” Sometimes I’m like, “That’s an interesting ad. It’s relevant for me.” Other times, I’m like, “I don’t care about that ad. Get it out of my face.” My dad is an author and a writer and was a former journalist. Ultimately, what they both appreciate is that advertising helped keep the internet free. It helps fund editorial publishing.
That’s something he inherently understands from having been a writer in the space but also because he had a digital publishing company in Italy a long time ago. He gets that. I’ll still get emails from them where they’re seeing the news about Meta’s fine in the EU or anything related to Google. They will be like, “Did you see this? This must be important for you.” I’m like, “I saw this last week when it first came out but you’re on the right track.”
I’m sure you must be excited to have a parent like that, and a dad who understands your space and who you can speak with and connect with on several bases. That’s exciting for sure.
It’s nice to be able to have some deeper conversations about what’s happening sometimes.
Coming back to your role at Criteo, can you expand on what your function and responsibilities are, how you are measured, and how you and your team are measured against?
The scope of the function of go-to-market sits as the centralized organization bridging between the client solutions group, which is the sales and revenue-generating group with some support functions, and the product organization. I have four teams within go-to-market that are operating as a unified go-to-market group but each has specialized functions and roles. Let’s call it the product-facing side of my go-to-market group.
I have my product solutions organization. They’re working hand-in-hand with the product managers to make sure that all of the feedback from the field has made its way into the product manager’s ear, and is being considered as part of the development of the product manager’s product strategy. They’re also deeply understanding what’s coming out of the product, what’s being built, how it’s going to get activated, and the value that it’s going to bring in terms of solving the customer’s challenges, and the value it’s going to bring for Criteo as a business.
They’re in charge of building the go-to-market plan, being the experts on that product set, solution set, feature update, or whatever the case may be. Also, being able to articulate, “This is how we’re going to bring this to market. If it’s something brand new, here’s how we’re going to run the POC, the alpha, the beta, and all the way through GA and beyond.” If it’s a feature update and something is in GA but it requires a change of behavior on the sales side or at a customer who’s using a self-service, there’s a go-to-market plan associated there.
How is that different from traditional product marketing? In my mind, that’s typically product marketing and product managers, to some extent, depending on the organization. How is your product solution team different from traditional product marketing?
At a company that’s the scale of Criteo of about 3,000 people, we have a very complex product suite within our commerce media platform. We have four main solutions and then we have these core assets that power them. It’s specialized to get into the nitty-gritty of something. Even as simple as our machine learning algorithms for campaign optimization.
The AI behind that and the number of different tweaks and things that need to be done that bring in the different data, audiences, and all of these things are all product work. Understanding what those are and being able to articulate it into a plan for how it then needs to be activated is where the product solutions team goes.
They’re not focused on, “How do I tell the story? How do I write all of the collateral materials and sales pitch materials?” That’s product marketing. They work very closely with product marketing, which is also within my organization. They’re focused on the storytelling and the narrative, making sure the documentation is there, and also the right type of materials that a salesperson is going to need to be successful in the fields.
It sounds like your product solutions team is a blend of the sales engineer and solutions architect.
I feel the need sometimes to attach other titles to it because it’s not exactly something that’s well-known as a scope. When you’re at a smaller company, you would have either a product manager and a product marketer doing some of that function, or a product marketer doing a lot of it. When you have the scope of the technology detail you have to get into and the amount of planning, organization, and project management that comes with some of these things, they are not necessarily always standing alone. They are intricately involved in some of the other things that are also ongoing.
It’s being able to think about the go-to-market holistically, “What’s our business strategy with this product? What is our goal for this product in terms of what we expect to get out of it?” It’s working with the sales teams or the sales leaders to make sure that we have that business plan and that business strategy attached. That’s where they shine. That’s where I see them being quite differentiated between product management and product marketing. They very much work as a tight trio.
Your first team is the product solutions. Thank you for going and explaining all the nuances and details there.
I do it on a daily basis. The product marketing team is the second group within my team. It’s focused on who are the personas that we are bringing, how we need to show up for them in terms of the narrative, the storytelling, and the materials, what’s the actual documentation on some of the more client-facing collateral on the product itself, and all of those pieces that you would think anybody would need.
They also own, “How do we name our products? How do we keep a centralized repository where everything is accessible and easily findable by a salesperson, and make sure that’s being used and being updated accordingly based upon whether the narrative is resonating or not with customers?” We’re tweaking that. We keep constantly improving. It’s not one-and-done. They’re closely focused on that.
They work a lot with our marketing organization because the marketing team uses a lot of that persona work and the messaging work for growth marketing activation. It’s used for the website. It’s used for the planning that we do between the product solutions group, product marketing, and marketing on press releases. We might want to bring out certain products. Those are tightly working together and understanding both the technical product side of it but more so, “How do you articulate this to this particular customer? How is that different from this customer over here?”
That’s product marketing. You have product solutions and product marketing.
I have a group called Solutions Consultants. This is the group that’s enabling and bringing it out to the market in terms of the actual rolling out. They train the sales teams. They are out there in the field supporting the sales teams and getting pulled into client meetings to help talk about the story and connect the dots with product experts or solution experts. Because of the complexity of our suite, we’re not selling one thing. We’re selling a suite of solutions.
Oftentimes we want to be there on-hand to help support the sales teams post-enablement even. There’s a lot to do in terms of planning the rollout, and getting that rollout and training done of “This is how we could think about bringing these types of products together for this particular customer because of their unique challenge and need,” or what they have told us in meetings. This is largely focused on newer solutions that a salesperson isn’t already well-versed in. The goal is to get everyone well-versed in everything. By that time, we got some new stuff. It’s constantly going on.
The fourth team is my strategic planning and operations group. That’s the group that makes sure that it’s all flowing, and that it’s not a big game where the pieces of the puzzle are connected to roll something out. That’s strategic planning, operations, and project management. That group also works closely with our business stakeholders and all of the other organizations outside go-to-market. We had inputs and outputs for the annual planning for finance, legal, and all the back office teams that need to be alerted and understand how everything is flowing from go-to-market. It impacts their roles in their day-to-day and some of their systems even. It’s making sure the ship is running tightly and we’re not missing the beat on anything.
Thank you for explaining and walking us through the four teams that you have under go-to-market. I would like to shift gears. As you and I and everyone on the audience side know, there are always successes and failures in go-to-market. It’s not just up and up. There will be downs several times. Going back to your time at NBC or at a time that you want to pick, if you can share both a success story on the GTM side as well as a failure, that would be good.
I’ll take both of them for Criteo examples. One of the big successes that we saw and that I’m proud of is the launch of our Commerce Max platform in 2022. It’s our agency DSP. For those who don’t know the terminology, DSP is Demand-Side Platform. It’s the buying technology platform for an agency or a brand to run their media dollars across the open internet.
This was a huge accomplishment for Criteo because one of the big areas that have been growing in the space that Criteo has been playing in quite a bit is retail media. Retail media is the monetization of retailers’ inventory on their retail sites, similar to what they have always done in stores with shelves. We’re turning all of that digital with things like sponsored products on display. That has been going on for a few years.
Criteo has built technology to service retailers to be able to monetize their inventories and for agencies to be able to buy these inventories. What hasn’t existed before and something that is deeply needed by the buying side of the industry is the ability to do this while also leveraging a retailer’s unique audiences to find those audiences when they’re not on the retailer’s site. They’re on any website here and there consuming their content. They’re on their phones consuming content. It’s being able to reach them in the right moment to bring them back to the retailer for point of purchase, and then being able to report on that in closed-loop measurement so you can see that drove that point of sale.
That was a huge accomplishment because it helps manage a lot of the fragmentation in this space already that clients need to otherwise use multiple different tools to spend that money in that way. We have brought it into one place for them. That was everything from a go-to-market standpoint. It’s in the market because there was a lot of education and listening to the customers, especially our early partners, in terms of what they need and what are their main pain points and building toward that.
It was an amazing collaboration of all teams at Criteo in products and go-to-market, sales groups, and the customers in terms of building this to what it is now, and then continuing to work with them as they have been hands-on keyboard to be able to continue to iterate and bring that out. I’m proud of what the team accomplished there. That was a huge win for the industry to be able to close the gap on some of these fragmentation challenges.
It sounds like a big win. Congratulations to you and the team there. I’m curious more about the strategic side, plus the tactical side of how you and your team think about the launch. I‘ve seen high–performing teams that define, “Here are the launch goals in terms of PR, customer rollout, wins, sales, pipeline, and so on.” What do you and your team think about that?
You always want to start with, “What are we trying to achieve? What does great look like?” That means putting some metrics against it. What are the right KPIs to measure? That depends too on what stage you are in the product life-cycle. It may not even be a revenue KPI yet. At some point, it becomes one. It’s having that established from the very beginning and knowing what you’re working toward. Especially when you’re building something new, you need a test and you’re doing some POCs. You need to know what you’re testing for. What does success look like?
You have to have that defined. Everyone needs to agree on that, including in this case the customer. If we and the client have different definitions of what success looks like for this POC, that’s not going to get us very far. It’s identifying, “Here are all the things we would want. What is the most important 1 or maybe 2 or max 3 that we can work toward, assuming that they’re all manageable in the same breath?”
We start there, and then it’s about making sure that we have the right processes put in place to make sure that all of the different steps along the phasing for all the different teams that are involved are happening. There’s a giant project management component there and regular roll-ups to steer the folks that need to be updated and keep track of whether we’re pacing on track here, and to roll that out.
Do you have a specific launch program management team? Is it the product marketing who is running that?
I do have an enablement function within the go-to-market group. It’s not run and operated by product marketing but they are giant collaborators in all of this because much of the materials are needed there.
That’s a super cool story. Coming back to my earlier discussion and topic, what is the GTM failure story? What are the key lessons from that for you?
Criteo is in its antiquity. It has been around for many years. First and foremost, it was a retargeting company, which was a company that focused on finding you again and again for you to purchase a product. That was enormously successful. They were the first ones to do it. To do that well, you need to be quick, you need a lot of data, and you need to know exactly who you’re targeting and target them with the right thing so that they are more likely to convert. It’s a performance play. That made Criteo extremely successful. You could consider that one product or a point solution.
You need a lot of data to know who you're targeting and target them with the right thing so that they are more likely to convert. So it's a performance play, and that made Criteo extremely successful. Click To Tweet
As Criteo evolved because the space evolved, there was a need to create more solutions. You needed to have more things to sell than just retargeting. Even though we continued to be the best at retargeting in terms of a performance standpoint, other companies also have retargeting products and then other products too. To capture the bigger TAM, there was a need to do that.
We did that but one of the challenges that we faced as we rolled out other products is that we started to have not only what we would call a whole bucket of point solutions like, “Here’s the pitch for when you’re doing retargeting. Here’s the pitch when you’re selling an app campaign, a CTV campaign, or an online video campaign.” All of those were individualized as their sales strategies.
First of all, I created a ton of fragmentation within what we were doing from a go-to-market and sales standpoint. Secondly, as we started to bring those stories together, it also made it difficult for a salesperson to understand “What is the plan when I activate across all of those things?” If we are bringing the point solutions together, you’re not selling videos, retargeting, and CTV separately. You’re selling acquisition or retention to a performance marketer.
They’re either looking to acquire new customers or retain and grow their existing customer base and lifetime value. They can do that through a myriad of different targeting options, inventory assets, channels, and devices. We can offer them all of that through one buying tool. Being able to articulate the fact that we are doing acquisition and retention versus these point solutions was step one. The sales team’s challenge thereafter which became the go-to-market challenge was how we understand how to map all of the different opportunities into the bigger pitch.
That’s where go-to-market sets down and goes, “Here’s how we do these types of plays. Here’s the documentation for these step-by-step,” and how you would think about all of the different types of creatives, whether this creative is more conducive to an acquisition campaign, a retargeting campaign, or a consideration campaign because of the performance and the data that we have in our partnership with products. We were creating a lot of this mapping for the sales teams that then allowed them to be able to bring these stories together holistically. We have seen incredible success and adoption of these materials as well with over 40% growth in our acquisition products. It’s working.
It‘s funny how this theme continues to happen. It doesn’t matter which industry or what stage of the company you’re in. This is more common in mid to larger–sized companies where things become siloed. Sales teams do their own pitching. The product teams are doing their own thing. It‘s like horses pulling in all different directions, which are all targeted and going in one path. It’s cool. Going back to what you shared in your failures and challenges, and coming back to your launch in 2022, that’s a big shift that has happened at Criteo. Kudos to you and your team for making this happen.
Thank you. It’s a lot of hard work from a lot of different folks. It’s an incredible effort.
Double–clicking on that, what were the friction points or challenges? There had to be an alignment at the leadership level and executive team that needs to happen. It’s not good enough that the alignment happens only at that level. It has to trickle down at all employee stages. How did you work through those challenges?
A lot of what I jumped right into when I started at Criteo was the education piece about shifting away from the point solution mindset to this acquisition retention loop. It’s the virtuous cycle of how that helps form and grow a marketer’s business. First and foremost was how we effectively educate. It’s not because it’s a difficult concept but that’s not how historically we have been selling, and the story they were used to telling or the fact even that there were multiple products to bring together into a holistic story.
We launched what we called the Trailblazer event, which was this huge go-to-market undertaking with tons of content and materials for follow-ups that helped set the stage for what we were doing. It was all about repetition. It was about getting into the markets and having the team sit down, do office hours, go through the materials, and be available for questions until it became ubiquitously part of the everyday language. I joked with my go-to-market team, “The terms acquisition and retention weren’t even being mentioned at all. Now, everyone is saying it all around us.” They’re telling it to us, which is great. You know you’ve succeeded when someone is telling what you said to them back to you.
Did you have to bring in external thought leaders, influencers, consultants, and experts? Was it just the internal team who was doing all this education? A lot of that weight is typically given to a neutral or third party.
We largely did all of it in-house and leaned on the huge effort of the go-to-market team. There were a lot of collaborations with other organizations as well, and a lot of collaboration with the sales leadership team to make sure that they were also very involved and bought into having their leaders and their leaders’ leaders sit in and make sure that was getting digested and disseminated down to the teams. We even did competitions, pitch contests, and all sorts of things to make sure that it continued to land all through the chain.
We’re shifting more to the final segment and the last few questions for you, Nola. What are the key patterns or trends that are on your radar for go-to-market? What’s on your mind? How are you tackling that? Are you tapping into the communities? Do you have peers? How are you tackling all those issues and challenges?
There are a few things. First and foremost, it’s with the scope of the role. Are we achieving and doing everything we need to do to make our sales team successful? That’s critical. We’re continuing to analyze that and improve on that. My partnership with the sales leadership team is incredibly important as well as my leader’s partnership with their peer sets. That continues to be an area that we can always tweak and improve. That’s a big focus for me.
I like to do a lot of research on how other organizations do it, ask around, and listen in because it’s done differently by different companies all over the space. What might work this year may not work next year as our product evolves and as the market evolves. We have to be agile and flexible. One of my favorite things to say to my team is, “We have to create clarity out of ambiguity. That’s our job as go-to-market.” That means being comfortable with ambiguity and constant change.
As the market evolves, we have to be agile and flexible. Click To Tweet
Specifically and personally, do you rely on communities, books, or podcasts? What do you turn to?
All of the above. I’m a huge nerd. I love reading all sorts of things, books, and articles. I love podcasts. I love this show. I have also a lot of business podcasts and writing podcasts I listen to. I find them all very relevant for go-to-market. At the end of the day, go-to-market is a lot of storytelling. It’s a lot about how you position things and how you think about what’s happening in the marketplace, apply it to your business and think about, “What does this mean now? What does this mean in a year? What does this mean in three years?”
I find all of those relevant even if they’re not directly related to go-to-market activities per se. Go-to-market always has to have a pulse on what’s going on in the industry and the space, macro and specific to the industry. There are client meetings and events where you get to sit down and talk with people, whether that’s more informally like this or over dinner or listening to some more formal content that can be educational.
If you were to look back at your career, who are 1, 2, or 3 people that played a key role in your career growth?
It’s more than three people. There are three groups of people. My parents have always been unconditionally supportive and allowed me to galavant all over the world and never told me once to be careful. Secondly, I have had the incredible fortune of having some fantastic managers who have become mentors and friends even both while and after I’ve been working for them. They have helped guide me in my career both in terms of the opportunities I’ve been afforded and also in terms of the thought leadership guidance and partnership of exchanging ideas and debates, which I find so healthy for growth. That’s huge. My husband is also in the industry. He’s more on the technical side. He has been incredibly helpful in continuing to help me dig deep and learn exactly how things work so that I can more effectively talk to people that I don’t know about how they work.
You did it very well in terms of how you covered the three main stakeholders, parents, folks at work, managers, peers, and then at home, husband. The final question for you is this. If you were to turn back time and go back to day one of your GTM careers, what advice would you give to your younger self?
The number one advice I would give myself is to carve out more time to think. I’m hyperproductive. I tend to feel like if I’m not for some reason being as productive as I feel I should be, then I’m not doing anything. Sometimes sitting, thinking, and reflecting is not something earlier in my career that I valued as an actual activity that was moving something forward for me in terms of what I needed to do for my job or my development. Now, I very much understand the importance of taking time to think, absorb, digest, analyze, and then put it to some analytical use toward the job you’re doing or the problem you’re trying to solve.
That could be as simple as reading an article and then taking ten minutes to think about it, having a conversation, and then thinking that through after you’ve finished having the conversation or maybe jotting some notes down. I try to carve that time out now more regularly, which is hard. In some weeks, it’s easier to find some time to do that or not. That’s important because you’re in a constantly evolving space, so you have to be constantly on top of it. That doesn’t mean just reading it and being like, “I knew that happened.” It’s like, “What do you think about what that means?”
Thank you so much for taking the time. It was a wonderful conversation. Good luck to you and your team at Criteo, Nola.
Thank you so much. It’s a lot of fun.
- Nola Solomon – LinkedIn
- Commerce Max
Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share! http://stratyve.com/