COVID-19 stories: At-home marketers shifting focus, adjusting goals

Here are some encouraging stories from marketers who are pivoting tactics to help customers, and their staff, during the crisis.

The massive disruption of COVID-19 is forcing many of us to rethink everything we do. Our community has been sharing their ideas on how to manage this overwhelming situation.

Here is another installment (read the first here) of encouraging stories from marketers who have been adapting to our current reality.

How connecting with colleagues has taken new dimensions: The digital party

The Challenge: This is approximately the fifth week of working from home, which is something unprecedented for our full team. The most time we have spent without seeing each other has been two weeks and that was due to a nice vacation – which is totally different that what we are currently experiencing. Although we moved fairly quickly to digital, increased the number of digital meetings (with the camera ON) in order to feel more present and shared our project updates more often than ever, something was still missing. That was the fun while working. Fun you can only have in a physical environment, where you can chit chat in the hallway, grab a coffee or share a quick funny story – or so we thought.

The Solution: One of our directors gave the idea for a “Digital Party.” The party took place through Microsoft Teams with 21 people joining. Although at times awkward, or at times slow due to Internet congestion in the EU, I suggested to play a game.

To play, each person mentions one word as fast as possible. With a cap of 5 words, a person in the group (whose word did not get picked) has to create a short story using these 5 words. The rest of the members grade her/his story.

Needless to say, there are a lot of internal jokes based on our crazy words that were mixed together with work-related abbreviations. I never knew that “SEO went for a trip to Paris” or “Covid-19 saved Marketing from Chuck Norris” etc.

The Impact: Lots of laugh, fun and openness. In a world of unknowns, the power of digital was clear: although apart we could be closer than ever at the same time.

Now this Digital party will be a regular activity while we are preparing for future physical meetings — which will be an equal blast!

– Dimos Papadopoulos is the marketing analytics assistant manager at adidas

Shift marketing tools to collect data to inform planning

The Challenge: We’re a PR agency and quickly realized that COVID-19 is impacting the media landscape. With so much information swirling around this topic, it can be hard to know what to do from a media relations perspective.

The Solution: To better understand what the media is covering, we shifted media monitoring tools — typically used solely to monitor media coverage — to collect data on what different trade verticals are covering week-to-week.

The Impact: Our media monitoring provided data that our team can use to make outreach more impactful and to assist in advising our clients. We also used it to develop a weekly report that clients can use in planning larger marketing initiatives.

– Anna Julow Roolf is the VP of BLASTmedia

Don’t lose sight of goals, consistency in delivering solutions customers need

The Challenge: Our new normal has required everyone to pivot, from the working moms who are now home school teachers, to the automotive workers who are assembling ventilators instead of carburetors – which we are grateful for! But, this pivoting can come with its own set of challenges, and as a business leader, I’m also working to ensure my teams and customers don’t over pivot to the point of losing sight of our goals to keep our economy strong.

The Solution: While need to change our working environments and access new tools to interact virtually, we need to remember that our purpose hasn’t changed. For me, that’s to help organizations transform into experience businesses by engaging with customers along each moment of their buyer’s journey. This is especially critical now when customer engagement is more important than ever before. I get up each day with the intention to provide consistency in delivering solutions our customers need to keep business going, with thoughtful consideration of the changing environment.

The Impact: Engagement through frequent touchpoints, goes a long way and shows the receiver that you are listening, empathizing, and acting on their needs. I’m already seeing impactful results, both from my team and the customers we serve, each day.

– Paula Hansen is the SVP Chief Revenue Officer of SAP Customer Experience

How to capture an engaged audience

The Challenge: People around the globe are practicing social distancing, leading to a 60% increase in media consumption. Marketers need to consider how they can pivot planned activities in a way that is meaningful and true to their brand.

The Solution: Be focused on building your database.

The Impact: By focusing on building your database, you will engage customers and keep them interested, as well as gather data that will help you understand motivations and personalize marketing efforts later in the year.

– Richard Jones is the CMO of Cheetah Digital

Do we all need to dwell inside of the crisis?

The Challenge: How to be relevant in the face of an overwhelming, unprecedented situation.

The Solution: We have challenged ourselves as an organization to think forward and offer up solutions about how to help our clients prepare for coming out of the crisis. Instead of overcommunicating and sending out email blasts or posting on our martech portal’s website that we are managing business as usual during the pandemic, we have chosen to just quietly focus on offering value to the brands that we service.

The Impact: We have imparted a sense of calm to our employees, while many of our clients are laying off huge portions of their staff. And because of our steadfast consistency, clients are then turning to us for thoughtful insights to solving their problems, which are now greater given reduced budgets and manpower. Focusing on the future and not the immediate bottom line, has freed us from being bandied about by the panic and be a place of refuge.

– Jennifer Moore is the Chief Marketing Officer at Silvercrest

Translate guidelines into a language our partners will understand

The Challenge: Our video production marketplace provides a constant stream of jobs to thousands of independent production teams around the world. Stay-at-home policies and general safety concerns have challenged these creators’ ability to produce live action shoots for brands and publishers in need of content. While creators are able to access the safety advice published by the CDC and state and local governments, we realized they needed some interpretation of how it applied to their production businesses.

The Solution: We translated these CDC guidelines into production-specific terms and recommendations that spoke their language, which was turned into a video and shared with the community. For example, avoid communal Craft Service snacks like bowls of trail mix or pretzels. Additionally, we helped our network understand the opportunities for no-shoot, remote-friendly solutions such as animation and post-production, so they could adapt their offerings to the times.

The Impact: First and most importantly, our creators—all of whom are small, independent businesses – are continuing to receive paying jobs. Second, our brand and publisher clients are able to get high-quality video that effectively engages audiences during this time when customers are looking for answers and authenticity.

– Lucas Loeffler is the CEO and founder of QuickFrame

A small gesture to keep the wheels of commerce turning

The Challenge: Shifting to a work-from-home environment is already starting to feel like the “new normal” for our company and our customers. We offer response management software that our customers use to help them win new business, and we’ve heard that many are struggling to adapt to the sudden shift to a 100% remote workforce. Yet keeping the wheels of commerce turning is critical during times of crisis. Throughout this uncertain time, our team has been encouraged by the community coming together to support one another, each offering what they had that could help someone else. We wanted to help too.

The Solution: Our team banded together and outlined all the ways we could help our customers shift to a fully-from-home workforce with ease. Marketing quickly produced materials to help our customers navigate the transition. The product team adapted the roadmap to expedite new features relating to remote productivity. Everyone agreed that one of the strongest enhancements our customers could have were the integrations between our product and collaboration tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Google Hangouts. But as paid add-ons, not all customers had them. We knew there was only one thing to do, make them free for six months – no strings attached or automatic charges.

The Impact: Customers are already starting to leverage the integrations. The feedback has been very positive so far. We hope this small gesture can ease the communication and collaboration challenges our customers are facing and allow them to focus on taking care of their teams and businesses during such unprecedented times.

– Angela Earl is the Vice President of Global Marketing at RFPIO

About The Author

Wendy Almeida is Third Door Media’s Community Editor, working with contributors for Search Engine Land, Marketing Land and MarTech Today. She has held content management roles in a range of organizations from daily newspapers and magazines to global nonprofits.

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