D.C. CMO's Gather Virtually To Discuss COVID-19
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D.C.’s Top CMO’s Gather Virtually To Discuss COVID-19

DCA Live, an organization for business leaders in the Washington, D.C. area, conducted a virtual roundtable with 11 of the region’s top Chief Marketing Officers. The roundtable helped share insights about operating during the coronavirus pandemic. Two of WebMechanix’s Directors, Chris Mechanic and Jarrett Fleagle, joined the roundtable.

Participants:

  • Anuj Agrawal, CMO, Earth Networks
  • Jacob Fabbri, CMO, Fonteva
  • Rebekah Hughes, CMO, The Motley Fool
  • Christian Campagnuolo, Chief Brand Officer, EVERFI
  • Shashi Bellamkonda, CMO, Leap
  • Susan Offord Weber, EVP, Marketing, Walker & Dunlop
  • Hunter Montgomery, CMO, ChurnZero
  • Meg Schiffman, VP of Marketing, Gusto Farm to Street
  • Peggy Pei-Hsuen Liao, ED of Marketing, Lumaverse
  • Charles Gold, CMO, FireMon
  • Shane McCarthy, CMO, Sandboxx

Here are the highlights.

  • Bulls versus Bears. Some companies are contracting quickly while others are thriving and investing because they see opportunities for growth.
  • CPMs and ad costs are declining steadily. Competitors are pulling out of the advertising game, which means now is the time to buy and renegotiate paid media to get bargain prices.
  • Check your marketing mix. People are going to be online more than before. It may be good to move more of your marketing mix to digital.
  • Focus on existing customers and renewals. Focus on retention and upgrades for existing customers since that may bear more fruit right now than trying to get new customers. Offer new payment terms and features. Get creative.
  • Adjust marketing message by vertical. Adjust your marketing messages so that they’re appropriate to the times.
  • When is it ok to start selling again? Focus more on top of marketing funnel content. Mid-funnel content right now is hard to move. Customers are searching for information. Helping is the new selling. People may not be looking to buy in some industries, so nurture them. Once we emerge from this crisis, there may be a buying frenzy since people have been getting stir crazy. Make sure you stay top of mind by helping.
  • Opportunities to upgrade platforms and innovate. Come up with new solutions that better serve your customers to get on the upswing once the COVID- 19 crisis ends.
  • Boost team morale. One CMO is doing almost daily videos. Those little touches help. LEAP delivered pizzas for a “lunch and learn.” Others do virtual bring your dog to workdays. Some have a kid or a dog on every call they have. Another CMO does short meditations with the team. Try Sam Harris’s Waking Up app.
  • People are looking for access to experts and portfolio managers. They’re asking, “What should I do with my money now?” They’re looking for peace of mind. We’re running daily programming for top of funnel free info and access. For bottom of funnel customers, they receive 24-hour webinar advice with investors. They’ve found the best balance has been lots of free valuable stuff at the top of the funnel.
  • Customers are buying at record rates. They just finished one of the best months of all time. People are searching for info that can help them right now. You need to create relevant, timely, empathetic content.
  • They’ve noticed clear drops in the hospitality and retail industry. They’re using the opportunity to adjust marketing mix by leaning into digital and away from hiring. Their CEO is bullish on Q4 2020.
  • They’re helping the sales team with top of funnel content and webinars and asking the team what they hear on calls. They don’t want to lose clients even if it means allowing delayed payment. They’re looking at their verticals and prioritizing those that are stable or thriving while de-prioritizing the others.
  • For financing services and commercial real estate, they’re busier than ever. They’ve pulled five different admins to help. The team is changing the tone and messaging of content. They started a webinar series three weeks ago that became a HUGE success. Their CMO is using the CEO’s connections to bring on more experts for the webinars. She is re-purposing existing content with employees who have the bandwidth. She’s also paused external messaging and shoring up enterprise deals.
  • For the intelligence data industry, customers are hurting. They’ve pulled back on marketing spend and know the next couple of months will be slow. They’re conserving cash for later when things open up.
  • Course registration technology is booming. There’s a ton of interest in doing things virtually right now. Their CMO is pivoting to focus on repackaging content and brand marketing. Look out for partnerships. Churches and schools are looking for help to set up course registration software.
  • The restaurant industry has had a real challenge. Door delivery services have been keeping them afloat. He had to close two mall locations and four additional locations. He has furloughed most of the team. He has been able to communicate with customers in a way that has felt genuine. He remains optimistic. He believes he can bounce back from this because the team is small and nimble.
  • In the B2B software industry, there are two kinds of customers: ones who have been through the last recession and those that are panicking. For top of the funnel, they’re educating customers on how to survive and get financial aid. Savvy businesspeople are using this downtime to upgrade their sessions and prepare for a strong comeback. Now is the time to promote the right tool that prospects have been putting off for a long time. They’re an essential service, but they need to virtualize right now.
  • Virtual content and tech platforms are doing well. People are starting to use their product more to stay in touch with their loved ones. They’ve seen a lot of interest from government clients who want to double down on their messaging. Have a lot of military spouses on the team, many with deployed spouses. The military is stopping all travel. They converted the blog to a  military news site. Major publications have furloughed editors, so he can hire them on the cheap.
  • Top Salesforce app exchange partner – They’re expecting some softening of net new business. And they’ve seen Contact Us submissions and other requests go quicker than usual. 50% of their go-to-market is in-person events, so they need to find new ways to connect with the market. He’s noticed associations are staying conservative by holding onto reserves. They have to pivot to virtual events. He has heard that some people are getting sick of Zoom. People will be looking for more interactive digital content. All his eggs are in the digital basket. His private equity firm’s advice is to Look for a Q4 rebound.
About the writer
William Chou
William Chou
William Chou has years of experience in the world of corporate digital marketing. He is proficient in SEO, paid media, email marketing, and copywriting.

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