Just before COVID-19 hit the US, my team at Oracle CX Marketing welcomed a new SVP of CX Marketing and added a few new members. In a pre-COVID world, we would have all met in person. Instead we met virtually to get to know each other. While a virtual meeting can’t completely replace face-to-face interactions, doing our planning sessions virtually did add one big benefit—we were able to invite many more people, from a variety of teams, and get more perspectives.
Working virtually is just one example of how marketing teams are adjusting how they work right now. Here are four insights I’ve gleaned from my team and I trying to adapt to this very fluid situation:
1. Understand this is not standard working from home
Allow for more flexibility.
Many of us are in a unique work situation right now, one way or another. I have always led a virtual team, so stay-at-home orders did not change things that much for me. However, working from home is different now, since my team needs the flexibility to homeschool their children or deal with other responsibilities at home.
Make room to chitchat.
People are feeling more isolated and craving some type of normalcy right now—especially the longer our social distancing mandates continue—so I hold a virtual Monday Morning Coffee Chat for my team to join together, have some facetime, get to know each other, and share our quirks and hobbies. The only rule is not to discuss business.
Stop wasting time with too many meetings
Meetings are essential, but you shouldn’t schedule too many of them. I don’t know about anyone else, but during the second hour of consecutive meetings, my productivity drops. Every hour of unnecessary meetings on your team’s calendars steals time away they could have used to be more productive.
2. Get back to basics
Don’t veer from one extreme to the other.
Yes, events will not happen at the same scale as before COVID-19, at least not in the near future, but we don’t have to bombard our audiences with webinars to make up for it. Before creating a virtual event, we need to know our audience and remember why people came to our events in the first place. Everyone consumes content differently. Before creating a webinar, ask yourself if a webinar is the best way to convey information right now? Is our audience ready to receive it? Or can it wait?
Put the why before the how
I challenge my team to think of “why” before the “how.” This helps us “stay on course” and keeps us from creating (what I like to call) random acts of marketing. Each piece of content we create right now goes through multiple rounds of review, and we are constantly rethinking when to send it or when to publish it and how frequently. These series of questions help us develop a holistic overview of where our content is going and why, and it just makes us more thoughtful marketers overall. Marketers might feel an ever-present need to be seen and heard, but you can dial it down—at least a little—right now. You don’t want to add to the noise. We don’t have to send multiple emails a day or publish too many blogs a week. It might be too much, and quality always trumps quantity.
3. Maintain the business you have
Focus on being helpful.
Everyone agrees that marketers shouldn’t try to exploit the crisis (which Business 2 Community has as number three on its list here). Instead, we should concentrate on maintaining the business we already have. So, right now, focus on being helpful. Keep your website in order, be cognizant about the volume of emails you send out, and offer helpful information to your audience.
This might be also be a great opportunity to do all the things you never have the time to do before, such as scrubbing your database and templates, training, or conducting research. It will make you a better marketer and better able to help your audience.
4. Prepare for an altered future
Businesses will eventually open back up, but when that happens, the lessons we learn right now will continue. We’ll still maintain the same standards for creating and reviewing content, and we will try to put more thought into the “why” rather than the “how.” If you can do any training, you’ll put it to good use. If you cleaned up your database and templates, you’ll thank yourself for having done so.
In the future, our planning meetings will likely be a hybrid of live events, in-person meetings, and virtual meetings. We’ll also move to a hybrid model for our events strategy. It’s a good idea to have a contingency plan that you can do a webinar or virtual conference if an in-person meeting or event falls through. Gartner actually recommends that CMOs put contingency plans into place.
What are some of the lessons you will carry on with after this crisis is over?
For more leadership insights, read “3 Leadership Takeaways from My First 30 Days at Oracle during the COVID-19 Crisis.”