During the pandemic, marketing leaders everywhere have had to tune in to the needs of their consumers and employees, remixing their marketing message to address the concerns of their audiences, and adjusting working practices around the need of their people to be remote and protected from the virus.
We ask five of our Rockstar CMOs what they’ve learned during the crisis and what practices we should keep as the world slowly emerges from lockdown.
Every month we catch up with our Rockstar CMOs, returning backstage with them to ask a marketing question that is top of mind at the time. Again, this month, we can’t ignore the pandemic as we virtually gather our Rockstar CMOs into the Green Room and ask them:
We’ve all had to change how we do business in the current crisis. What do you think are the good habits (either marketing or personal as a leader) we have developed during this time that we need to hold on to, regardless of what’s next?
Kate Bradley Chernis
If what you normally do is listen to and attend to what your customers CARE about, then marketing and selling in a crisis is no different to marketing and selling, normally – which is why we haven’t changed how we do our business one lick. And why our sales have increased.
Prioritizing the human is what we live and breathe, within our overall work culture, the product we sell, marketing initiatives, sales strategies and customer service. It’s the backbone of everything we do. Even our AI. This was a strategic decision we made early on as an underdog up against big dogs. Now more than ever, those big dogs are struggling not to become dinosaurs. They’d better hurry.
The problem/challenge/opportunity is that our mindsets have changed right now, but relevant to your question… it MUST NOT be just for the moment while directly addressing Covid-19. People and companies who basically send the message, we will only care about you during a crisis, will suffer as soon as they go back to business as usual after the crisis. People will see through the fake.
So be up-front… let them know you plan to put people first going forward and not just during times of crisis. And carry this mindset forward in how you approach your marketing. This is the perfect opportunity to build your business and brand long term – to show people it’s not just about the moment. This moment, like others before it, will pass. Yes, we’re all in this together, because this crisis is global. But businesses need to communicate to their customers that they intend to make nurturing their relationships ‘business as usual’ from here on out. Especially in the B2B space where it is much more manageable… there really is no excuse whatsoever for companies not to pay more attention to simple things like birthdays, family events, life events… and the long-term well-being of their customers and partners.
Consistency is key, just as it is in personal relationships. You can’t be perfect in every situation, but if you’re consistent enough and do your level best to take care of people the way you would want to be taken care of, it comes back to you.
A Brand is what a business does, a Reputation is what people remember, share, and embrace.
Ted Rubin is a leading social marketing strategist, influencer, keynote speaker, Photofy CMO/advisor… Speaker, Author, Provocateur Ted is our resident rock star. Read more about Ted.
My favourite quote this week is from Marketoonist Tom Fishburne – “We’re not going back to work, we’re going forward to work.” As usual he nails it – while being open and adaptable to change has always been important in marketing, now it’s essential. We knew that tailoring our message was important, now it’s critical – sending a message about ‘growing your business’ isn’t empathetic if the business in question is in lockdown and fighting for survival. The companies that are winning right now are those connecting with customers on their own terms – not those going through the motions.
In marketing we’ve been preaching for a while about all things digital and how two thirds of the buyer’s journey happens online. Now McKinsey has heaped on the evidence with its latest research – B2B companies see digital interactions as two to three times more important to their customers than traditional sales interactions. What’s more, over half believe that virtual sales models are equally or more effective than sales models used before Covid-19. A significant number of people have realised that it’s perfectly possible to work from home. I’d even say it has made us better at communicating and there is more small-talk in meetings to make up for those lost conversations at the coffee machine.
Another good habit is that we’ve become more data/insights-driven, in an attempt to create more certainty in an uncertain world.
Dr. Christine Bailey is CMO of Valitor, an international payment solutions company headquartered in Iceland. Forging a career in the tech sector, she’s led European marketing functions for Hewlett-Packard and Cisco Systems and was recently voted #1 woman in tech by B2B Marketing.
Learn more about Christine in backstage Q&A here.
The seamless, agile and ‘always on’ flow of communication has been critical in maintaining alignment and direction during the last few months while bringing our people closer together. While we actively leveraged Slack, Teams and other tools prior to the pandemic, the current flow and cadence has increased dramatically to include multiple quick video stand-ups throughout the week and are infused with humor, increased information sharing and a refreshing level of human touch. We’ve successfully removed the need for the monolithic ‘meeting’ format in favor of conversational communications.
In addition, the human element has been a game-changer. In a matter of weeks I’ve learned things – great things – about members of my team. I’ve seen their kids’ drawings (in process) and superhero outfits, impressive t-shirt collections and creative attempts to define a working environment at home. I now know the habits of their eccentric neighbors, which food delivery services are best in different parts of the world and what it takes to become a minor Ska sensation in Toronto. Our shared challenges and open flow of communication have directly led to a less formal work environment while maintaining a high level of professionalism and shared expertise – creating and facilitating an atmosphere of trust.
Now I no longer have to lunge for the mute button every time my dog reacts to the latest Amazon delivery… she has a voice in my team’s meetings and is often answered in kind. Can we please hold onto this?
From a marketing and leadership perspective thinking like a human being and being empathic will carry brands forward regardless of what happens. This really goes to transparency and understanding who you are serving – people of all ages and walks of life need help now and in many ways will need help in the future. What your company can do to help both your customers and employees will always be important. This is everything from providing financial assistance to both customers and employees to finding a solution for child care.
The second area that’s surfaced for me, is that communications both internal and with your customer are critical. In the beginning of Covid-19, we were communicating weekly with our members and focusing entirely on Covid-19. Now, we have been able to pivot to savings and other financial topics. The lesson is to have a consistent communications touch-point with your customers, be proactive, not reactive.
Think like a person, be transparent and communicate, communicate! These habits will help us regardless of whether being in crisis or operating under standard circumstances.
Wendy Bryant-Beswick is an award-winning marketer with 20 years’ experience in the financial services industry. She is currently VP of Marketing at Service Credit Union. Go backstage with Wendy.
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