The economic ripple effect of everyone screaming “the sky is falling” is making that a reality for many businesses. Many B2B companies are experiencing drops in sales and interruptions in their supply chain — and inevitably, one of the first expense areas the finance team comes for in economically challenging times is marketing.
So how should marketing ops folks navigate this?
1. Focus on long-term planning
I graduated from college right around the “Great Recession” of the last decade. It was not a great time to be job hunting in the wonderful world of marketing, to put it lightly.
I was fortunate to join a relatively stable business that was around $15M and 40-some years old. People thought the CEO was crazy for hiring me and giving me a budget to start an inbound marketing program. Their bottom line had taken a beating, and rest of their industry was hunkering down and going through rounds of layoffs.
But the competition cutting spend meant we had a massive opportunity to grab mindshare at bargain prices. The economy came back around, as it always does. When customers started spending again, we had fantastic brand awareness and a lead generation engine that was ready to handle a spike in demand.
The business grew to $32M in the 2-3 years following the recession — and the strategic investment in marketing is one of the things the CEO has frequently touted as the reason we were able to come out ahead and grow at the fastest rate in the company’s history.
When tempted to react to the latest headline or from a place of fear, remember we’re playing the long game.
2. Use ROI reporting to fight for your budget
You will most likely be held to a higher standard when asking to increase or maintain marketing spend. Your company may be pushing to eliminate “non-essential” expenses – don’t let them mistakenly put marketing in this category.
Have you implemented connected campaigns and campaign influence reporting? This is the best weapon in your arsenal to ensure marketing is viewed as a revenue driver and not a cost center.
The ability to show that “THIS initiative” influenced “THAT pipeline” and to back your recommendations up with data is critically important. If you don’t feel confident in your ability to do this kind of reporting today, let’s chat.
3. Re-evaluate your marketing mix
It’s going to be fascinating to watch companies continue to transition conferences and events to a virtual format this year. Coronavirus forced our hands on this one, and it’s pushing marketers to think critically on:
- What are the key goals of the events we host, and how can we best achieve those digitally?
- How do we capture the attention of a virtual audience?
- What are the best ways to measure engagement?
- How do we build online communities that facilitate connection and loyalty?
If these online events go well and drive value, perhaps we will see a great longer-term focus on digital channels. Getting really good at online collaboration — both internally and externally — has the power to provide a major competitive advantage.
4. Don’t let people sit idle
If you have marketers that suddenly have unexpected time or budget on their hands, consider where else their time could add value. Consider:
- Shadowing your sales team to gain insight and credibility
- Focusing on creating content in-house to fuel future marketing efforts
- Working on internal processes and “backburner” projects
- Leading team training on social selling, marketing automation basics, or any number of other topics
- Cross-training or upskilling team members on Salesforce via Trailhead
- Enrolling in Code School for Pardot Admins or Pardot Admin Bootcamp
5. Shore up process automation and technical infrastructure
It’s likely going to be difficult for marketers to get approval to add headcount before the Dow starts moving up and to the right again. Now is a great time to focus on doing more with less and exploring ways to make internal processes more efficient. Evaluate opportunities in the platforms you have available to you (Pardot, Salesforce, and other martech), for example:
- Automating lead assignment processes
- Lead scoring & grading
- Alerts, reports, and dashboards that help your team focus on what’s most important
- Conversational marketing for lead capture and appointment scheduling
- Engagement Studio programs for customer onboarding, nurturing cold leads, managing renewals, etc.
6. Emphasize retention
The old adage of “it’s cheaper to keep a customer than to get a new one” is constantly repeated for a reason — it’s true. Explore ways to leverage Pardot to support customer service use cases, for example:
- Suppressing customers with open cases from promotional emails
- Analyzing closed cases to inform content marketing & training to develop
- Routing online support requests as efficiently as possible using conversational marketing
- Measuring CSAT and NPS using Pardot
- Recording customer engagement and reporting back to their account team
7. Think about how you can support internal collaboration
If your company has asked people to work from home, how can you support that transition? Are there internal communications you could execute through Pardot, and report back to leadership on engagement levels? Do you need to allowlist home IP addresses to make sure people have easy login access to the things that they need?
Pardot and Salesforce have the potential to be very useful tools as your company transitions to more people working and collaborating virtually.
8. Keep things in perspective
It sucks that conferences we’ve looked forward to are getting canceled. That budgets may shrink. That our metrics may take a beating.
But at the end of the day — what’s most important is our health and taking care of those around us.
The craziness will subside. The economy will recover. Continue to rock your job the best you can and fist bump/elbow tap the people you love.
How are you seeing marketing evolve with coronavirus?
Marketers, what are you noticing? Has anything changed yet with internal attitudes and mindsets toward marketing? How are you customers reacting?
This is new and rapidly evolving territory, so I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.