Led by our co-founder Chris Mechanic, our weekly virtual roundtable discussion brought together a select group of Chief Marketing Officers to discuss how COVID-19 has impacted their businesses. We’ve found that smaller groups give people more time to talk, so this session featured:

Here are the highlights from this week’s discussion:

  • Some CMOs still need to make up the gap to achieve the lead goals that they’re responsible for, despite COVID-19 impacting their business.
  • The number of virtual events has grown substantially. In particular, CMOs have found that small, intimate virtual events tend to work well. Some CMOs were relieved to not have to do in-person events this year.
  • For one CMO, centralizing remote communication was the first priority during quarantine.
  • A CMO paused social media for a week to gauge their audience’s mindset regarding COVID and to avoid appearing tone deaf. Another CMO chimed in, saying they also paused marketing temporarily for the same reason: They didn’t want the company to appear like they were capitalizing on the pandemic. Instead, they created a free COVID-19 kit related to their industry.
  • The Black Lives Matter movement was also brought up as another topic where CMOs found that they had to be thoughtful of their word choice to avoid appearing insensitive in their external and internal messaging. They had a discussion on the best approach to address the movement: avoiding bringing it up, talking about it briefly, or leaning into it. Messaging can be interpreted subjectively, and they’ve found that employees will speak up if they find certain language or phrasing pejorative and offensive. Using certain hashtags can make your message political even if you’re attempting to avoid politics and just be moral. There is fear that someone out there will always take a post the wrong way no matter how good your intentions may be or what you say.
  • Because a CMO offered their COVID resources for free rather than forcing a call to action, their pages ended up ranking in Google results right under the WHO’s and the CDC’s. This CMO had some pushback from her team when she proposed offering their materials for free, but she believes that it was the right decision because people will ultimately remember who was there to help them during these tough times. These free resources were so successful that TikTok reached out to partner with them on a COVID initiative.
  • A CMO is focused on brand awareness for now, while investing in a moderate amount of “adjacent” marketing to push prospects toward specific resources for certain verticals. Lead flow is good, and the sales cycle length has decreased noticeably. Some verticals are doing great, while others, like the SMB space, are struggling a lot.
  • One CMO pulled back spending partially to conserve cash.
  • In terms of the right time to start selling again, the CMOs noted that they had never actually stopped selling in the first place. They’ve found that your approach to selling is more important than when you do it.
  • To stand out, one CMO gathered customer stories and gave back to their community. They wanted to avoid the cliche COVID messaging already out there, such as telling people to disinfect surfaces.
  • Try to turn the present situation into something positive. One-day virtual summits are a great tactic that one CMO has used to raise money for charities and to attract customers. The company obtained a dozen sponsors and donated a portion of the funds raised to the American Logistics Aid Network. They were also able to repurpose two webinars that they had already been working on by bundling them into the summit.
  • Don’t let the pandemic go to waste—make sure you’re part of the solution, or take this as an opportunity to restructure your company.
  • One CMO’s company performance wasn’t impacted at all since their team was already prepared to handle remote work. In fact, they achieved the best Q1 and Q2 that they had seen in the last several years. However, they’re aware that some of their clients’ industries were affected, such as healthcare and nonprofits.
  • Your prospects have shifted from buying mode to survival mode. Reach your people in a more personal way and let them know that you’re there to help them in any way they need, regardless of price. Just be a good human being to others.
  • Avoid posting about COVID-19 tips, especially when you have no expertise or credibility since everyone else is already talking about it (and no one wants to hear unreliable advice).
  • Always start with the user, not the technology. Find out what your users need right now and serve them.

Stay tuned for more roundtables!

If you’re a CMO and would like to participate in a future roundtable, please feel free to get in touch.