As the entire world responded to the call for social distancing, those of us who are fortunate enough to have the option of working remotely made that transition. Suddenly the number of employees working from home jumped from 5 million all the way to 75 million. And with so many of us working remotely – and some for the first time – it’s meant a lot of adjustments.
How can marketers survive in these conditions? How can we thrive? It’s already clear that our plans and budget pre-COVID are irrelevant. Are our previous marketing tactics also irrelevant?
22% of companies have changed their go-to-market plans for products or services
34% of companies have delayed or halted strategic hiring
62% of companies have experienced a drop in employee productivity
We’ve all had to pivot our plans and adjust our budgets, now it’s time to apply that same flexibility to the way we actually market our products. These are the top three challenges facing marketers trying to run marketing while working from home and the tricks to solving them.
1. How to break through the “digital sameness”
In-person activities are no longer an option, so every marketing organization has embraced digital options. However, as the world goes all-in on digital, there’s unprecedented competition for audience engagement. We’re all trying to connect with our audience and it’s getting harder and harder to cut through the noise. We can’t all have a viral moment, but we can still create connections.
In our recent webinar, 8 Ways to Adapt Your Marketing Organization to Today’s New Reality, our CMO Julia Stead advocates for highlighting your brand and what it stands for. Create content that guides customers and prospects alike. Stop selling for a minute and build connections by offering expert advice. Cutting through digital noise using human connection is also supported by Acquia CMO Lynne Capozzi. She urges brands to provide value to their customers by keeping in touch and maintaining brand messaging.
Breaking through “digital sameness” doesn’t equal ignoring user-centric norms or re-thinking your entire customer journey. Leverage the basics that are useful, but apply meaningful and intentional differences that speak to your unique brand.
2. How to inspire via virtual events
As soon as it became clear this events season was not happening as planned, many were able to pivot to holding virtual events instead. But the trick is figuring out how to do more than just a broadcast version of what had been planned. This is exactly what Skillsoft achieved. When they had to turn their annual event, Perspectives, virtual they wanted to create a best-in-class digital experience that people were excited to participate in live.
Content is needed to flesh out the virtual event schedule. There needs to be a reason for people to want to attend live, rather than watching the recordings later. And most importantly, there needs to be a way for people to interact and make connections.
We need to tap into the human element of a virtual event. Open rates on emails have increased during the pandemic, and people are showing up to webinars in a much greater proportion. In March alone, ON24 saw the number of hosted webinars increase by more than 330% and the number of attendees double year-over-year. We are all clearly craving human connection outside the four walls of our homes. Create the (virtual) space for marketers to mingle and learn from each other.
3. How to successfully collaborate despite the distance
“We’re being forced into the world’s largest work-from-home experiment and, so far, it hasn’t been easy for a lot of organizations to implement.”Saikat Chatterjee, Senior Director, Advisory at Gartner
Half of the reason we’re having a hard time adjusting to remote work is the stress of trying to work in the middle of a global pandemic. But if we are working from home, we’re incredibly fortunate.
The other half of the problem is that not all companies had an existing setup that translates well to remote work. 54% of HR leaders say poor technology or infrastructure is the biggest barrier to WFH during COVID-19. So what can we do?
Start by increasing lines of communication. Utilize whatever instant messaging platform your company uses and communicate with your teammates frequently. Allocadia’s marketing team started a weekday ten minute Zoom chat in the mornings. It’s a great way to check-in and it gives us some social interaction we’re all craving.
The next step is looking at your tools and how they support collaboration. Make sure that you’re maximizing the full potential of every piece of your tech stack. Automate as many tasks as you can, and see if there are available integrations to drive efficiency. And if you find that you’re still not there, look into marketing performance management providers.
Check out The Buyer’s Guide to Marketing Performance Management or the latest Forrester Wave review for advice!
The Secret Trick
The new realities of remote work mean that you’re suddenly seeing a lot more of people’s lives every time you hop on a video chat. If you’re living in a small apartment with your partner, you might be taking calls from inside the closet. If you’ve got kids, they’re jumping into your background, banging on the door of your “office”, or trying to eat your headphones. A professional layer has been stripped off as we all catch a glimpse into each other’s private lives.
It’s messy, but it’s also human. And as we all go digital, that’s the secret trick we need to remember in marketing: empathy. Use empathy to inform all of your decisions and actions, and you’ll come out of this crisis ahead of the competition.