More than 100 B2B marketing leaders joined us for coffee (virtually of course) this past Friday to discuss a wide variety of topics, themes and priorities.  A common theme across the Eastern and Pacific time zone versions was the importance, stress and critical impact of CMOs balancing communication right now across at least five separate but vitally important audiences:

  1. Current Customers
  2. Marketing department employees
  3. Executive team peers and board members
  4. Prospective Customers
  5. Family

The overlap between these audiences has perhaps never before been so noticeable and important.  And they were mixed in with numerous other strategic and operational challenges.

Smart marketing organizations and their sales team partners know that it’s not OK to ask prospects what keeps them up at night.  You should know your target customers well enough to tell them what should be keeping them up at night.

Based on feedback from B2B marketing leaders over the past seven days, here’s what’s contributing to that lost sleep:

  1. Customer success and marketing investments: Especially programs that increase customer advocacy, deepen loyalty and extend customer lifetime values. Ideally it shouldn’t take a pandemic to make this a focus, but organizations are nonetheless investing extra effort to calm, assure and keep the customers (and revenue) they already have.
  2. Choose your marketing approach: One CMO talked about the three types of marketing leaders operating in this environment: the fear-driven marketer (pushing for a scorched-earth approach to hitting immediate goals at the expense or long-term brand and reputation), the hope-driven marketer (glass-half-full messaging accompanied by an investment in content marketing and trust-based messages) and the pragmatic marketer (making daily/weekly triage decisions to keep the business moving without worrying about unknown and un-manageable future variables).  Each industry and organizational situation likely requires a different and unique mix of these approaches.
  3. A four-part review of marketing efforts: What will you stop? What will you start? What will you continue?  What will you do different?
  4. People strategy: Perhaps the most difficult of them all. Is this an opportunity for topgrading?  In hard-hit industries and organizations, do you RIF or furlough?  When the market inevitably returns, do you want to rebuild or rehire temporarily sidelined stars?
  5. PR opportunities: Trade publications in particular are desperate right now for content.  How can you leverage this opportunity to drive new bylines and campaign themes that accelerate education, awareness and demand?
  6. “Business as usual” is winning again: We’re all tired of “in these desperate times” messages, and so are your customers.  One CMO last Friday referenced an A/B test of several subject lines, and consistently last week the “business as usual” subject lines won.  Your customers and prospects want normalcy!  Give it to them.
  7. Focus on your team’s physical and mental health: One CMO described a color-coded “how are you doing” check-in system during video calls to ensure the intellectual, physical, mental and spiritual well being of her team.  An expanded definition of empathy is needed right now.
  8. Not just virtual events, interactive events: The red ocean of webinars is already here and about to get worse.  How do you actually and successfully replace that three-day in-person event with something equally valuable online?  A handful of video presentations isn’t going to cut it.   How will you foster peer-to-peer networking?  Scarcity?  Exclusivity?
  9. What do field marketers do now?: Just because field events are temporarily on hold, doesn’t mean your field marketing team has nothing to do.   How can their skill sets be diverted, expanded and leveraged across other urgently-required campaigns to drive Q2 impact and pipeline contribution?

If you’re a marketing leader in your organization I’d like to invite you to our CMO Coffee Talk series, a new drop-in interactive Zoom meeting Fridays at 8:00 am Eastern and another at 8:00 am Pacific.

Think of it as coffee with CMOs – you can participate actively or simply watch and read what others are thinking.  We had more than 100 participants last week, and would love for you to join us.

We’ll keep it going weekly at least through April.  Email me if you want an invite.