A Yale University course for CMOs used to focus on marketing issues like engagement, analytics and transformation. This year one topic was on students’ minds: How do we plan marketing programs in the COVID-19 era?
“In today’s climate, hearing from leaders on how they are rapidly adjusting to the COVID-19 crisis is immensely valuable for the students,” said Professor Ravi Dhar. “It’s likely that the marketing landscape will look very different when we emerge from this crisis, and it’s more important than ever for our students to understand how leading marketers contend with new realities while planning for an uncertain future.”
CMOs around the world are asking the same question. They were already facing marketing challenges pre-coronavirus. They had to, for example, generate quality traffic, deal with information overload, strike the right balance in marketing technology, manage overwhelming amounts of data and invest in enough resources to maintain results.
Now CMOs face a whole new world of challenges, and they are wondering: Where do we go from here? Some answers are emerging thanks to new research, innovative marketing initiatives and best practices offered by experts to help navigate the new world. Here are highlights on these three fronts.
Several new studies address the COVID-19 disruption to organizations’ marketing programs and provide insight on what to do now.
In its March 2020 report, Making Content Marketing Convert, the council predicted digital content and search engine optimization will drive businesses to offset the impact of on-hold ad budgets, based on the impact of COVID-19, as marketers attempt to stay connected with existing and potential new customers. The council urges marketers to increase helpful content production to help ride out the COVID-19 crisis.
The current COVID-19 crisis has upended CMO priorities and budgets, leaving many looking for alternate revenue sources, according to the report, The 2020 COVID-19 Crisis Will Stun U.S. Marketing. To develop guidance in response to this question, Forrester forecasted how CMOs would spend on media and advertising, marketing technology, marketing services and internal marketing headcount over the next two years. The main takeaway is don’t stop marketing. Also, change channels and messages to where consumers are now.
For marketers and other digital business leaders, the COVID-19 crisis has brought up many questions regarding consumers’ thoughts and behaviors. Answers are beginning to emerge, according to McKinsey’s latest marketing report. “The call to action for CMOs and other members of the C-suite is to become ambidextrous. Many leaders are spending much of their time in crisis mode when they also need to think about planning to get ahead of the eventual recovery.”
The public relations agency conducted a study on consumer opinions related to the COVID-19 crisis to help understand expectations. Among its findings:
The Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council (MassTLC) began holding virtual forums with technology CMOs in April 2020 to discuss how they are shifting their marketing mix, focus and resources as they navigate through this crisis. It also published a COVID-19 Scenario Planning report for CMOs. Here are five examples of new marketing tactics CMOs have already launched:
In a crisis situation that is subject to rapid changes, CMOs need a proactive plan to change how they speak to their customers and plan their campaigns throughout the crisis. Here are a few best practices offered by business experts.
There’s no doubt that marketing has changed profoundly during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it will continue to transform as the world moves toward a “new normal.” More than ever before, the catchphrase is: Be prepared to pivot.
Leadership during the coronavirus pandemic for CMOs has created a unique set of challenges that many have never seen before. This has put additional strains on an already challenging job. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel, as shown by the early research, marketing efforts and best practice suggestions from CMOs and their peers. Now, more than ever, marketers are showing that they have each other’s backs — and are looking for new ways for everyone to adjust to a whole new world.