It’s Time to Rebound: Mindsets and Action Plans of B2B’s Leading CMOs Right Now

April 22, 2020 Matt Heinz

In the best of market conditions, companies that wait for a market opportunity to present itself aren’t likely to be successful.  And yet, there are companies today in that position and with that strategy.

Sure the future is uncertain and somewhat unknown, but that’s true always.  There is never a clear path forward, never a guaranteed path to success, never clear sailing and calm seas for the foreseeable future.

Last week at our CMO Coffee Talk series, it was clear that many CMOs have resolved to lead their organizations forward, leaning into the uncertainty and headwinds to start moving, start selling and start growing again. 

A few more highlights from last Friday’s discussion:

  • Tighten your market focus and target account lists:  Plan on doing so at least quarterly if not monthly for awhile as some businesses and industries take varying lengths of time to rebound, recover and be ready to spend again.
  • Speed up planning cycles:  This isn’t a time to plan months or quarters out.  Develop action plans for the next week or weeks, and know that your team might need time/space to adjust themselves to the new pace.  It might not initially be pretty, but is worth working through.
  • All in on ebooks:  Several CMOs shared that some of their events and field budget has been diverted to long-form content, namely ebooks and data/research-based reports.  Working from home prospects are taking more time to engage with meatier assets, which accelerates their education, understanding of key/complex issues, as well as readiness to engage on solutions.
  • Think in terms of serialized content:  This includes weekly events (like the CMO Coffee Talks) as well as regularly-produced, themed and programmatic content in a variety of formats.  In other words, what’s the “series” you can produce for your customers now so that one sign-up means weekly calendar invites or commitments for awhile?  Bonus points if it’s NOT COVID-themed and could potentially have a shelf life well beyond this moment.
  • Invite external audiences to your employee events:  Several companies have been producing daily or multiple-times-weekly short stand-up calls for their employees, and have begun inviting customers and prospects to join as well.  Obviously the content has changed a bit, but the sense of community has been well worth it.  For example, one company hosts a daily morning “joy” call with employees, customers, partners and prospects.  Less than ten minutes, featuring something positive to start their day.
  • Rapid GTM pivots: How can you use 90 percent of what you’ve already built (code, infrastructure, equipment, etc.) and pivot more quickly to what your customers need, right now?  Consider getting some people involved in this thinking that know your business and industry but not as closely as you do (to get their fresh perspective).  Share with them the facts of what you have, and see what they can help you come up with.  Then consider creating an internal, isolated “strike team” to work on that opportunity without interruption or disturbance of the rest of the business until they come up with something that’s ready.
  • Cause marketing is hot right now: Hopefully it stays that way, as giving back (and allowing your customers and prospects to be part of it) is a winning strategy in all market conditions.  For example, some companies are donating to first responder groups and buying local restaurant gift cards as incentives for prospect engagement and participation.
  • Stop talking about COVID: Your customers are over it.  According to one study last week, email subject lines citing COVID or “coronavirus” already have 50 percent lower open rates vs subject lines that directly address customer needs.
  • Be vulnerable to let others be vulnerable:  For the third week in a row, someone attending our CMO Coffee Talk started crying in front of their peers.  It was during a share of hard choices in reducing staff, and sparked a conversation amongst the group about how we, as leaders, can set the tone for our teams (and broader organizations) when we let ourselves be vulnerable, show emotions, be real.  If others can share their emotions, it can help with the healing process (what we’ve been through often invokes serious grief), increase a sense of community and motivate greater commitment to the path forward.

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.  It’s an informal but highly engaging 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.  Get registered with a hands-free calendar invite here.

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