CMO Chats with Gloria Fluxà, CMO at Submer

Ortus Chats

Gloria Fluxà

CMO | Submer

Gloria Fluxà, CMO of Submer, discusses innovative marketing formats, sustainability in business practices, and challenges of creating social proof.

 

To watch Gloria’s interview, you can subscribe to our CMO Chats interview series on YouTube. You can also listen to the interview on Spotify or pour yourself a cup of coffee and read the full interview below. Subscribe to the CMO Chats Newsletter on LinkedIn to keep up-to-date on our conversations with today’s marketing leaders.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Learn how adopting daring marketing strategies, like live streaming and immersive experiences, can establish leadership in the industry.
  • Explore the integration of environmental, social, and governance considerations into marketing strategies to enhance reputation and meet consumer expectations.
  • Discover how leveraging data-driven insights and new technologies such as AI helps in creating personalised customer experiences.
  • Understand the balance between allowing creative freedom and aligning with strategic business outcomes within a marketing team.

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Tell us a little bit more about yourself what sparked your interest in marketing?

I actually have two degrees—one in journalism and the other in advertising and PR. I wanted to be a journalist at the beginning. Then I realised that I was somehow selling things to others without their knowledge; it was a kind of journalism that I didn’t like that much. Then I realised that if I have to sell, I’ll sell in a way that everyone knows that I’m selling something, so I decided to go with 100% marketing and advertising. I love the creativity in everything. It keeps me really motivated to always find new ways of storytelling and talk to people about the brand’s stories. So I really fell in love with it.

Can you tell us what your company does?

Submer is a company that’s based on the main technology that provides immersion cooling for data centres. It’s probably a really weird term for people who are not coming from the industry, right? A data centre is basically where all the servers of companies like Netflix, Google, and Facebook are. Wherever the cloud that we always say, there’s not like an actual cloud; there’s a specific server, some point where we connect, to have access to the data, to the TV shows, to send an email, to use WhatsApp, whatever that is. We provide cooling for those data centres.

There are types of cooling; there’s air cooling, which is the traditional one. When we provide this type of liquid cooling, this means that instead of having a vertical rack with the servers and fans, we take out all of that, and we have a horizontal bath, a tank, with a fluid that is dielectric, and we submerge the servers—which is really crazy, but they work perfectly well.

What we achieve with that is that we reduce power consumption and space because we can have more compute-powerful servers in less space, which will reduce the infrastructure cost. We can also reduce the waste of water to zero because data centres also spend a lot of money on water to chill and cool down all the servers through air cooling. At the end of the day, you have cost efficiency and sustainability. We can even go farther and have a circular economy kind of achievement, which is heat reuse. We can reuse the heat from the servers to, for example, heat up a building like offices or stuff like that. It’s a sustainable and efficient solution for data centres.

That’s incredible. It sounds almost futuristic. So the name Submer comes from from submerging data centres into the liquid.

Exactly. Not a lot of people got that.

As the CMO in your company, what is currently your main marketing focus?

I always explain it as a translation of the company’s goals. My main focus is to translate the company goals into the marketing objectives that are going to support those goals. We support our sales targets through lead generation, acceleration of the pipeline, and branding goals like boosting trust, whatever they are. Together with the team, I organise the resources, establish OKRs and KPIs, and plan the strategy that will get us to those company goals.

Currently, I’m also focusing a bit on leveraging data-driven insights to personalise customer experiences for the big accounts. Also, to optimise digital marketing experiences and strengthen the brand’s presence.

I also have a significant focus on leading and empowering the marketing team. This involves fostering collaboration, nurturing talent, and ensuring alignment with the strategic objectives and all departments. For me, it’s super important to foster a culture of creativity but also accountability because we aim to drive innovation and excellence in all our marketing efforts.

You sound very busy; you wear a lot of hats.

Exactly! I mean, when you work for a startup (now Submer is a scale-up), but when I joined the company, we were 20–25 people; now we are 125 people, and there was zero marketing like marketing was nonexistent. So it was fun.

Can you tell me more about a particularly innovative or successful marketing campaign your team has recently executed?

A really interesting one, at least, is this kind of new format that we made up. It’s live streaming events; we had to come up with this idea because of COVID at the time, but now we’ve been improving this format every year. This has been part of the branding part of the story, as it’s something that the industry wasn’t really used to.

We created this live streaming format where people could connect and they would see live demos around the technology; they could ask questions with our experts answering them live; and we would talk about the company’s roadmap. Every year, we’ll present how the company was doing last year and what the expectations are for next year. We’ll also interview key stakeholders in the industry. Somehow, this boosted our digital awareness and positioning. I would say that these efforts also helped us with the branding structure and understanding of our positioning in the market. But also, we, even without planning for it, created this little positioning for us where everybody will consider us as innovative leaders of the industry while also highlighting our values around sustainability.

I would say that it started as something that was aiming for specific mini-goals or objectives in a short time period, but then it grew even bigger. Now, it’s a huge part of our strategy for our brand. A lot of interesting opportunities came to us out of this, of course, because customers and potential customers that are our audience for this kind of format have a new broader description around the technology because they’ve been buried educated. So when they come to meet with our sales representatives, they’re at a different stage of consideration.

You’re actually the second CMO that has mentioned live streaming in the past, I think two or three days. And it’s something I find very interesting because it’s quite different from what we do, right? We organise closed events, whereas live streaming is something we haven’t experimented with yet, and I find it extremely interesting. It sounds like it’s been very successful. So, do you see a lot of participation?

Yes, actually, and that doesn’t mean that the in-person ones are; I love them and actually have like 20 of them every year. We do livestreaming really intimately. Even though you’re connected from home or from your office, you can talk directly to the product manager who made the product, and he is looking at you through the camera. We have cameras everywhere on top of the product, like Submer, so you can feel like you’re there, and that was the key to this specific success—that it was almost like an in-person event. You could show things that, in a physical event, you cannot because maybe there are too many people, it’s not that intimate, or you cannot hear everything. Well, you can’t access the inside of the tank, of course. We try to make it in the most innovative and uncreative way possible; it is not just like a typical webinar streaming.

It’s almost like a hybrid event at that point.

Yeah, that was the aim.

What is the biggest marketing challenge that you have at the moment?

I think this is something that, in the industry, we’re all struggling with, at least in immersion cooling, is the creation of social proof or testimonial type of content. So we have customers, of course, with large deployments and have been using the technology, but we’re not allowed to mention them or even create anonymous content, which is difficult for us because the technology is disruptive. And we need to educate the potential customers, but not just because Submer, because my company is saying, “Right, it’s because there are customers that have been working with the technology for three, five years now. And they want to hear other customers that have experienced this, that they trust technology, everything works, and they had a really good ROI, they lower their TCO.” This lack of specific content, which is not the company’s but our customers, is the one that will work. So we now try to be creative on how to create content that is an alternative to having the customer talk about the products and the technology.

You mentioned something that we have actually been seeing in the events industry more and more. Some of our clients are actually doing events where they don’t just invite prospects, but they also invite some prospects and some current clients, and there is a lot of potential in current customers actually sharing their experience. How does your company stay ahead of its competitors in terms of marketing?

There are a few things, of course, like continuous market research, having a customer-centric strategy, and investing in talent because I have a wonderful team. But really, what I think really makes a difference with us is the brand and positioning differentiation and the way that we do it. So we have a really unique kind of branding. And what we created in the past years, and it’s been, I’m not going to say painful because it was fun. But it’s to try to give something extra, like an extra value, that makes potential customers way more attractive than our competitors to work with.

It is really related to our capacity to be a bit bold and unique, and do things that our competitors will never do, which is sometimes difficult to do because I have to also sell my ideas internally. Sometimes, like, “Wow, Gloria, that’s a little bit crazier than anything that’s too much.” It’s like, “Well, I think it’s the best approach.” Maybe they answer, “Yeah, but no one ever did this in this industry.” I was like, “Well, maybe that’s why we need to be the first ones doing it.” So, you have the detractors, and you have the funds. And then it’s really difficult to maintain that kind of differentiation all the time.

I’m going to give you a really fun example. So I think it was two years ago, or three years ago, in one of these live events that I’m saying that we call the Submer experience. There’s one every year where we had the crazy idea of having the two founders bathe inside the tank with the fluid with the servers or with a hairdryer that was on, and we were demonstrating with them inside the tank. Yeah, that’s on YouTube. For you and for everyone else who wants to check it out, It’s on YouTube within the Submer channel. You can imagine how this conversation went internally. That was a really tough but fun conversation.

That must be a hard sell for you. So, congratulations on getting away with it.

Interestingly enough, the founders were almost all in from the beginning. But we have to convince other people. I’m really lucky to have the CTO and CIO of the company, which are the two founders, Pol and Daniel. They really understand me and trust me with these kinds of crazy ideas. But I think it makes sense, right? Because you’re making a really important statement, which in this case is that I trust so much this fluid we designed, which is seven times safer than air because it’s less conductive than air, that I’m putting my body in the tank. Of course, we had to put 2000 disclaimers of “do not do this at home; do not do it on your data center.” So please, I’m not saying that you have to do this, right? Because this was done with our expert chemical team, everyone was there, and it was completely safe. But we’re saying to the customers that your most important asset in the company is the hardware, which is a server, which is super expensive and not like our desktop computers, which are safe. We’re putting the founders in the tank. So, that’s how much we trust technology.

Now, you can imagine that this is something that our competitors will never do, like almost anybody in this industry will never do. Keeping that kind of spark on around the Submer brand or on the band that we’ve been building. It’s not just one thing; it’s a little thing every now and then that makes you a little bit different. If you have two products that are exactly the same, I’m not saying that because we have a technical differentiation with our competitors, too. But if it’s not a decision about the product, or the price, or whatever, and then you see the people behind the company, then customers are always going to go for some people who inspire you with something—something different and something that adds value.

So, in your opinion, what does the future of marketing look like?

In my view, the future of marketing will focus on using data to create more personalised experiences for customers. With AI and machine learning, all of these new technologies will continue to play an important role in analysing vast amounts of data to tailor marketing efforts to individual preferences and behaviours. Like all the platforms on tools like virtual reality and augmented reality, they will help brands in their interactions so they will be more fun and memorable.

Another aspect that I think is really important, and sometimes is underestimated when it shouldn’t be, is ESG. So, ESG considerations are becoming increasingly important. I think that companies need to be more transparent and ethical in their practices. These efforts will align with consumer and investor expectations; they will affect brand reputation, and you can also have a competitive advantage, but you need to be regulatory compliant. It can also help with employee engagement. There are a lot of reasons why ESGs are super important. And if it’s like a value that you really value, it’s basically to understand that the company needs to take this really seriously and then communicate it externally.

We are also seeing trends around greenwashing and all these kinds of things that people just put on the sustainable label, but they’re not actually doing anything. That doesn’t help the other ones that are really doing stuff, like with data and with numbers. We are trying to do all this scope 1, 2, and 3 ESG compliance within our own company, but also for our customers. It’s just an example of how I think that, overall, integrating ESG considerations is crucial to sustainable growth. And in an increasingly conscious, interconnected global market like this, these companies need to take things really, really seriously. It doesn’t have to start with marketing, but marketing is a really important point in all of this.

If you could describe the role of CMO or head of marketing in one word, what would it be?

Translator. At the end of the day, a CMO is the bridge between the gaps between the company’s goals, objectives, values, and everything else company-wise. Then how do you connect this with all the stakeholders of the company, not only internally but also externally? You need to be that translator.

Now, you need to have an interconnection with your goals, with an external audience, with customers in another market, and with internal communication too. Marketing is still underestimated in terms of awareness, branding, and lead generation. Still, all of that needs to be translated to tangible goals, like understanding the goals of the company, creating a value proposition, adapting to the market, and aligning cross-functional teams. All of that is translating the needs of the company into specific, tangible results. This is what makes marketing outstanding, which drives business growth.

One last question. If you could give one piece of advice to other marketing leaders, what would it be?

I would say to build strong relationships and avoid silos. It’s super important to surround yourself with smarter people than you are and experts in fields that you’re not and learn from them. I think these will enrich you. In my specific case, as you can understand, I knew nothing about data centres, the thermodynamics of fluids, heat reuse, or anything else. With the effort of a lot of people from other departments, technicians, and experts in the fields, they helped me learn everything; you cannot market anything. If you don’t understand the basics of the technology and have a non-technical profile, that’s difficult, but it also happens to me in the marketing team. I have digital marketers, content, arts, products, and events.

If you have a team, my advice will be to empower your team and those around you. Because, basically, it will lead you to the results you’re looking for. The last piece of advice would be to lead with integrity and empathy. A conscious leader is always a leader that people admire and follow everywhere.

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