Led by Chris Mechanic, this week’s virtual roundtable discussion brought together business-to-business chief marketing officers to discuss how COVID-19 has affected their businesses.

Each attendee is encouraged to share at least one insight so that everyone leaves with something useful. Based on previous roundtables, we’ve found that smaller groups give people more time to talk; this session featured five new attendees:

  • Josh Martin, Perfect Sense
  • Nick Panayi, IPsoft
  • Grant Johnson, Chrome River
  • Tom Alexander, Wiss & Company
  • Jim Greenway, ITRS Group

Here are the highlights of this week’s discussion.

  • Here at WebMechanix, we’re being more careful and pulling back on things we may have splurged on before COVID-19. We usually train and hire a new set of interns every year, but this year, we’ve held off. Fortunately, we haven’t seen any major drops in business.
  • In the accounting and finance industry, the clients who automated their accounts receivable and payable before this crisis are very happy that they did so.
  • One CMO has been putting out mental health awareness events for their clients, which they have enjoyed.
  • As expected, software for remote work is booming. Those fortunate enough to be in this industry are zooming past their projected yearly goals.
  • Some software teams have found that they are more productive working from home. In particular, they’ve found that teamwork and collaboration are more streamlined in a WFH environment.
  • Digital care packages can be just as successful as physical ones. One CMO has had great success substituting physical mail gifts with Audible, Disney+, and other virtual gifts.
  • It may be good to break through the email inbox of noise with unique ideas, like sharing useful content and being personable rather than using the same generic “uncertain times” messages that everyone else uses. Emails sent these days often show no understanding of the recipient’s business, life situation, problems, or indication that they actually care (many haven’t emailed their recipients in over six months until COVID).
  • During this time, people creating websites and content are relying heavily on technology services.
  • One of the CMOs is using this moment to breathe and rebrand without having to deal with the pressure of lots of money being spent on campaigns and being held accountable to MQL goals. It’s an opportunity to reflect.
  • Demo requests through inbound marketing have noticeably increased since the start of COVID-19 for the tech services industry. They weren’t getting many inbound leads before.
  • In the Enterprise AI software industry, budgets are frozen, but the need for solutions is not. So what can you do? This is the time to help your customers, but not through a generic email—you need to offer value. For instance, one CMO is allowing prospects to immediately try out their software instead of requiring a demo pilot.
  • Most enterprise companies never anticipated the volume that they’re getting now, which may mean that they’re not ready to handle it.
  • This crisis will open many companies’ eyes by forcing them to realize that they don’t need as many offices or expenses as they thought. It’s also spurring many businesses to embrace digital transformation for the future since we may be forced into an all-digital situation again in the future.
  • One CMO will focus on the depth, breadth, and agility of his digital marketing going forward.
  • There’s an increase in traffic in the telecommunications, gaming, and finance industries, especially finance.
  • There’s a learning curve to working remotely, especially for developing the discipline to do so.
  • Many CMOs have frozen hiring decisions during this time, but some haven’t frozen their marketing budget.
  • Account-based marketing can be fruitful during this time. Try Twitter and LinkedIn retargeting and DiscoverOrg.
  • One CMO has done a test sending out emails to a list with demand-signals versus one without. It’s not worth it if you think you will generate demand. But it may be worth it if you surround the rest of the sales strategy with intent signals and bring prospects down the funnel. ABM is a practice, not a tool you can turn on and just expect results.
  • One CMO did a deep dive into TechTarget’s database and found ABM to not be useful. Just because someone from a recognizable company looks at a topic doesn’t mean it’s valuable since these companies have thousands of employees.
  • In-person events don’t matter as much as you think. One CMO spends over a million dollars a year on events, but they’re still seeing great success without them. They’re trying to find the best way to reallocate advertising during COVID-19. There was also a conversation about the effectiveness of trade show booths. The group’s experience suggests that these don’t yield good results, as attendees get bored quickly and leave.

These CMOs have taken COVID-19 as a period to reflect and plan for the future. Most are well poised to work and advertise digitally, and some find that now is a good time to do that. Many are simply keeping tabs on the situation and providing as much value to their customers as possible until things return to normal. They’re handling the current business situation well, given the increased traffic and leads.

Stay tuned for more roundtable discussions! Let us know in the comments what your current business situation is.

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