These are trying times for marketing organisations around the globe. As disruption from the pandemic continues, we are all doing our best to adapt. But it can be difficult to know exactly where to direct your energy and resources. How many of the changes being implemented will be temporary? Which ones will persist, shaping the way business is done in and what will become our “new normal?”
Although no one can say with absolute certainty what the post-pandemic world will look like, I have noticed certain trends beginning to emerge. That means it is worthwhile to start looking ahead and preparing your teams for what the future may hold. To move forward successfully, you will need to:
Embrace a new definition of work
More people are working from home than ever before, and many companies are beginning to re-think the way they define employment. From a business perspective, it’s easy to imagine that considerable overhead costs can be avoided if employees work remotely. But how will those savings compare to the loss of camaraderie and collaboration of shared workspaces? And what working arrangements will employees prefer? Do people miss the structure of the office setting—or does the increased flexibility and not having to commute win hands-down?
Performance does not appear to be a major concern as employees are currently proving that they can function well from home, provided they have the right tools and appropriate support. Video conferencing has become invaluable for our team, not only to keep us on task with work projects, but also to help everyone feel a bit less isolated right now. We are continuing to expand our communication and collaboration strategies both internally and externally, knowing that most of our buyers are working from home, as well.
The crisis over the past few months showed us just how quickly marketing plans can come together. We learned that—when customer demands and requirements can change literally overnight—a six-month marketing plan may not be as valuable as we once thought it was. Internal red tape was removed. Lead times were cut. Marketing campaigns were implemented in weeks, not months.
Going forward, it will be advantageous to keep working at this pace, but you will need the right technology to enable you to be as agile and responsive as you need to be. Because AI, in particular, helps improve efficiencies and enhance personalisation, I anticipate it is going to become an increasingly indispensable component of the marketing stack.
Continue to be nimble
None of us have ever experienced a business environment like the one we are currently facing, and although that has been extremely challenging, it has also been empowering. At Sitecore, we are feeling emboldened by all that we have learned, and we know that we are now much better prepared to deal with the unexpected. This newfound knowledge—and courage—will help keep us agile and adaptable as the demand for digital accelerates.
Re-invent virtual events
Most big companies are transforming their in-person events into virtual experiences, at least through the remainder of this year. You definitely need events like these so you can continue to stay in touch with customers and prospects. But now that everyone is shifting to a digital format, simply offering a webinar is not going to be as effective as it used to be. In order to have an impact, your marketing team is going to have to get creative.
Think about what you can do to make your company stand out. And remember to look for ways to take advantage of the situation. It is quite possible that moving to digital only events could open up a variety of new opportunities for your organisation. For instance, perhaps now you will be able to expand participation to those who, in the past, were unable to attend your in-person events?
Prioritise digital transformation
Championing digital transformation hasn’t always been easy. Even though everyone recognised its importance, few were willing to take the necessary steps. But now, the benefits of a solid digital strategy are on full display. Brands with the most effective outreach and e-commerce capabilities are gaining competitive advantage, and those that were not far enough along on their digital transformations are being forced to reevaluate their approaches.
Expect changes within sales and marketing organisations to happen quickly, as business leaders begin to truly understand the value of multichannel, content creation, and personalisation strategies. Companies are going to want to ensure that these key digital marketing components are in place and ready to help safeguard against future market shifts.
Without question, everyone who makes it through this crisis deserves acclaim. But the world is going to continue to shift, and you need to be ready. Keep your focus on your greatest asset—your team—and continue to build on the lessons you are learning. That way you will stay prepared for whatever challenge is next, whether that is routine marketplace competition or some other disruption entirely.
Much about marketing feels, and is, different right now. As you forge a path forward, be sure to tap into our shared humanity and values. Doing so will keep you grounded and help you identify the specific tactics and approaches your organisation most needs to not just survive, but thrive, in the future.
It is worthwhile to start looking ahead.