Senior marketing execs share advice amid the coronavirus pandemic (Part 2)

Senior marketing execs share advice amid the coronavirus pandemic (Part 2)

Last week, we asked several senior and seasoned marketing executives for their thoughts on how the coronavirus pandemic has changed marketing initiatives in the last few weeks (check out their responses here). The execs we interviewed work at a range of brands  – from deep tech enterprise companies, bootstrapped startups, to firms targeting consumers – and include Chief Marketing Officers, digital marketing experts and startup advisors.  

This week, we are sharing insights from the same execs on the advice they would give to their peers on how to approach marketing programs amid the COVID-19 crisis. 


Question: What advice would you give to other marketers who are reevaluating their programs for the next quarter?


Brett Chester, Vice President of Marketing, Sitetracker: Empathy is the key right now. That and social media. I think the world (especially us here in the USA  has been shocked by remote work. Most of our customers at least did not operate in this paradigm before. As such workflow planning and process are at the forefront of their minds. So, be empathetic, establish yourself as a thought leader and stay on message. 


Jascha Kaykas-Wolff, President at Lytics / Startup Advisor: Behaviors and habits have changed literally overnight because of the amount of time we are now spending isolated. All facets of our lives have moved online and as a business, we now need to account for those behavioral changes when designing any marketing programs. Are the channels your customers are in used differently now? Are your potential customers researching you differently? Maybe your customers and prospects are interacting with different types of content over the past month?  Your historical research about your customer’s wants and needs most likely don’t apply anymore. You owe it to your business to quickly research and develop hypotheses about how you can help your customers because of (not in spite of) these changes.


Cindy-Anne Lewis, Director of Marketing at Altran & Lohika: 

  • Invest in your brand. Do not stop investing in your brand during this time. Warren Buffet spoke to this point many a time during a recession or crisis.
  • Have empathy in your messaging, as your audience, along with the rest of the World is currently in a crisis like none other.
  • Pivot and refocus your marketing efforts from physical to virtual events.
  • Regroup your team. Make sure you do daily stand-ups with your team and keep a pulse on what’s going on. Over-communicate if need be, but stay more in touch now with your team than you did even when you could meet face-to-face in an office.
  • Be creative and innovative in your thinking and the way you reach out to your audience and how you approach tactical marketing ideas.
  • Recognize that this is the new normal and we don’t think things will return to normal for quite some time, especially in the world of events, hospitality and travel.

The good news is that there’s a wealth of options for you to choose from, ranging from webinar and web meeting platforms on one end to three dimensional, immersive experiences on the other end. The silver lining is that now more than ever, people feel the need to reach out and support each other as a community. A crisis brings people together, which is a very good thing. What does this mean for marketing? Button up your safety belts, for we are in for a hell of a ride.


Emily Maxie, Vice President of Marketing, Very: The worst thing you can do right now is to carry on as if the world hasn’t changed. The things that worked a month and a half ago are unlikely to work in this environment. To make it through this, you’ll have to adapt quickly, try things that you’ve never done before, and — most importantly —  prioritize your prospects’ and customers’ needs over your own. 


Bill Odell, Chief Marketing Officer, Aerospike: I have been through a few crisis-driven downturns, and while this has its own unique aspects, there are some fundamental things marketing can do.  First is to take this time to step back and re-evaluate the current plan. Whatever assumptions that plan was based on are likely wrong now.

While re-planning, try to avoid too much time on a full-year re-plan. Instead, think about quarterly planning.  We do not know when the current environment will change but assume it will and avoid getting locked into a plan which will have to be reset anyway.

Last, there are vertical segments that are doing well right now. Healthcare is one.  So is the Government. There are others. Look at the markets that are seeing more demand and see if you can offer something to help them.  More and more consumers are online, companies being deluged with online traffic and demand need help. Can you help?


Anthony Cain, Senior Director of Digital Strategy, Denizen Company: If I had to give one piece of advice, it would be to think like the consumer in the months (or years) ahead. Be cognizant of the things they are seeing and hearing, both online and offline. Everything from your tone down to certain keywords (e.g. quarantine) will be triggering to consumers, so really evaluate your brand communications, especially on social media, to avoid entering conversations you have no place in. Consumers value and respect brands that know their role and deliver on their brand values when it counts, so make sure you stay true to your purpose. Finally, a word of caution – avoid marketing messages that commingle acts of goodwill and brand-centric calls to action (i.e. sales). Consumers should never have to take any action to get you to help your community, especially when it’s in crisis.

Lisette is the founder and president of Gravitate PR. She started her career leading regional PR strategy and campaigns for some of the world’s biggest technology brands, and in recent years has honed her craft in partnering with startups primed for their next stage of growth. An award-winning PR professional, she has worked on dozens of M&As/IPOs in her career.

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