Marketing Still Needs to Adapt Messages, Speakers Contend

Marketers and salespeople have had to shift much of their business and strategies in the six months since the pandemic started taking its toll, but having appropriate customer messaging was key to maintaining business operations, panelists agreed on a webcast co-hosted today by the ABM Leadership Alliance and the IT Services Marketing Association (ITSMA).

"Since March, it's been a time like no other, and the plot continues to thicken," Heidi Eisenstein, Adobe's director of enterprise field marketing for the Americas, said. "In three weeks we had to shift from 100 percent in-person account activation to a fully remote approach. One of the biggest surprises was that we were able to make the shift and sustain our engagement with the customers that mattered the most."

She also advised that now, six months into the remote environment, marketers need to re-evaluate the frequency of their webinars because "customers are in webinar fatigue mode."

Though there was initial concern about customer engagement when the pandemic first hit, customer engagement has increased rather than decreased, according to Rachel Herz, head of account-based marketing at Cockroach Labs.

Eisenstein added that Adobe's marketing success since March can be traced in part to an early decision to step back and re-evaluate marketing efforts in light of the pandemic.

"The importance of starting there is huge," Eisenstein said. "We had to have a flexible mindset so people would feel empowered to prioritize."

People working from home were juggling family responsibilities, including children suddenly home from school, so executives had to look at allowing employees to flex schedules, Eisenstein said.

"We had to look at how to break through the [marketing] noise with customers," Eisenstein added. "It all comes down to appropriate messaging and appropriate engagement. To do that well, we had to work harder in the marketing group, from email to events to test marketing. You have to have a really compelling story to tell customers."

In structuring work hours while allowing flex time, breaks have to be clear to allow for meetings, said Anna Abrell, senior enterprise marketing manager at Braze. She advised reducing the number of meetings and staying focused during them to enhance productivity. "Most team members are overwhelmed, so you have to focus on the key things."

"You have to be empathetic to each other," she added, emphasizing that communications with customers need to be clear so that marketing is delivering compelling messages to customers."

Keith Pranghofer, director of account-based engagement at Microsoft, said that engagement between sales and marketing has improved since the start of the pandemic. "Sales is looking to us for insights, for the customers' point of view. It is exciting to work with sales to keep helping their customer relationships in meaningful ways."

It's important for marketers to work with sales to develop a target account list, Herz added."Gaining credibility while working with [sales] is helpful."

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