Putting Your Oxygen Mask on First to Help Others: What B2B CMOs Worked on This Past Week

April 6, 2020 Matt Heinz

As a parent, business owner, marketing leader – you can’t help others unless you prioritize yourself.  Easy to say, often hard to do consistently.

Our regular habits, personal and business rhythms are upside down right now.  Many marketing leaders we talked to last week are truly in wartime mode – helping their companies through pivots, helping their teams stay safe and semi-productive, making hard decisions on a daily if not hourly basis.

Amidst that chaos, it can be difficult to stop and focus on our own well-being.   At last Friday’s CMO Coffee Talk, personal care was a hot topic.  This included strategies for managing stress and anxiety, best practices for calm, meditation, journaling and more. 

CMOs are superhuman, even and especially in these times.  But we are also human.  If we don’t take care of ourselves, we won’t have the energy, brainpower and health to continue leading others.

A few others meaty topics that were discussed, both at the CMO Coffee Talk events as well as elsewhere in the CMO community over the past seven days:

  • Shifting to productive remote work:  Although many marketing teams had been working remotely for the past couple weeks at least, many marketing leaders spent last week helping their teams settle into some routines and connection habits that helped them increase productivity as well as community amongst each other.  This included best practices for communication channels, managing/mitigating interruptions, recommendations for deep work, etc.
  • True pivots vs “adding to the pile”:  Several B2B organizations have pivoted their marketing strategies entirely to in-the-moment appropriate programs.  Others are still trying to balance mini-pivots on top of programs that will continue as somewhat business as usual.  Much discussion about the pros/cons of “adding on” vs pivoting entirely, both in terms of external impact and internal bandwidth/focus.
  • Program pauses vs adjustments:  Is rebudgeting and reforcasting spend and impact of marketing programs worthwhile, or would it be more efficient to “pause” what was planned and revisit again once things calm down?  The latter (pausing) is increasingly seen as a better option, especially if programs are pivoting to new ideas more appropriate to the current Q2 business landscape.
  • Managing the rest of your team after RIFs:  If you’re been forced by outside circumstances to let people go, that elephant in the room must be addressed with the rest of the team.  How do you keep their morale and productivity going?  How do you lead with clarity and empathy with the remaining team moving forward?
  • Training as a marketing strategy: Several companies have taken their customer training and/or priced training/certification programs and made them free to anyone.  By doing so, they’ve made training a marketing channel, a marketing strategy and a competitive advantage.  Instead of creating something new, leverage something you already have and throw open the gates.
  • Product roadmap pivots:  If the way you market and sell is subject to shifts and pivots, so too should be the very products you’re building.  What changes to the short-term product roadmap would help you engage customers and build market share authentically with integrity in this moment?  Are there product-related quick wins you could rush or accelerate into the market?
  • Get your customers involved in your (and their) pivots:  One CMO leading an events business has created an Event Pivot Hackathon, inviting her customers into a virtual and interactive session to try and collectively find new ways to go to market, create products and services that can generate both short-term revenue as well as potentially longer-term product opportunities.  What a smart way to build value and work together with your customers, as one community, to dig out of this.
  • Customer relief strategies: Although blanket relief programs to customers is an option, many CMOs are encouraging their organizations to work more individually with customers to determine what (if any) relief is necessary.  They’re finding that many companies don’t need (or want!) the relief, that they are happy to get the call regardless, and that relief efforts land better and are appreciated more with the customers who truly need it.
  • Giving your BDRs explicit support and direction:  Not just broad recommendations about selling with empathy.  Our junior sales professionals need specific copy samples, email templates, voicemail scripts and value-added content to offer and share with their prospects.   There is no more important time to give your BDRs an explicit sales playbook to increase their confidence and productivity than right now, so that they are doing outbound with respect, empathy and value.

If you’re a marketing leader in your organization I’d like to invite you to our CMO Coffee Talk series, presented by 6sense and Heinz Marketing.  We’ve opened up 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.

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