Marketing in the Age of COVID
Since I started in marketing, one of my mottos has been to never be afraid to experiment. I’ve made a point to empower my teams to “fail fast, but fail small” – to always try to test out new tactics, especially when the market landscape pivots.
This is one of those times when marketers need to embrace change. During COVID-19, the way we connect with each other has shifted. Customers don’t want to be pitched; they’re looking for an open line of communication and some peace of mind.
The pandemic is giving marketers a platform to try new things. The business world has changed, practically overnight, and programs we’d all pursue in a normal year just won’t fit in 2020. So, our team is pivoting, shaking things up a bit to engage with customers and prospects in ways that make sense in the current environment.
“Shelter in place” guidelines across the country created a big disruption for our business: Many of our potential customers need to visit a data center before they commit to partnering with us, and due to coronavirus we can’t offer physical tours. But we’ve moved quickly to create the next best thing. In just five days we assembled sharp, effective video tours of some of our largest Flexential colocation facilities. They were shot on smart phones – not perfect, but we weren’t in a position to let perfection get in the way of progress. Our sales teams are embracing the videos as a way to offer a personalized tour and we continue to look for ways to innovate even more.
Every spring our field marketing team is busy with physical events – conferences, local meet-ups, trade shows, etc. This year we’ve moved to a more focused, virtual approach. We’ve gotten specific with our targeting and honing in on the accounts that are priorities, setting hosted virtual lunch tours, wine tastings, and celebrity chef cooking classes. And now, as we are faced with a nation that is “re-opening,” we are partnering with our sales team for a new norm of social gatherings. Our need to get creative has driven even closer alignment with our sales teams and a shared sense of ownership for measuring pipeline contribution through return on marketing investment.
COVID-19 has hit some industries harder than others. We’ve responded by communicating with customers in fields like financial services and healthcare, offering flexible bandwidth plans and remote services to meet their needs. In this climate, it’s more important than ever to provide relevant offers and thought leadership on topics our customers are grappling with. So, we are being more thoughtful about the cadence and tone of our communications and the channels we use to deliver our messages.
Marketing always requires the right message, at the right time – especially the one we’re in right now. For that reason we have also offered videos of our CEO talking from home, or out walking his dog. Most everyone is at home, so it is a way to show a sense of unity in the face of uncertainty. He always says we are all in this together, and here’s how we can work together, a comforting message to hear. During the pandemic, marketers shouldn’t just wait things out and shy away from the opportunity to get scrappy and try new approaches. We should hit it head on and unleash the creativity we’ve all cultivated for times like this.
How are you facing adversity and designing new ways to reach your customers? I would love to hear your failures AND successes. Post them in the comments.