Image of webinar participants Episode #1: New Reality, New Rules of Marketing Engagement

The New Rules of Marketing—Checking in with Marketers During a Crisis

Marketers aren’t medical workers. We’re not doctors, we’re not nurses, we’re not healthcare professionals, not first responders. But marketers have a role to play in helping others survive this global pandemic. Our lives aren’t on the line, but the economy is critical. That’s how people put food on the table. That’s how rent gets paid. And it’s up to marketers to help keep companies alive during this trying time. But the rules are out the window—and that’s what we’re talking about in a new eight-part live chat series hosted by myself and John Koetsier. 

In the first installment of the live chat, John talked to Hermione Way, Chief Marketing Officer at Sportside; CleverTap’s CEO Sunil Thomas; Rebecca Nackson, founder of Notable; and Jana Jacobs, Head of Product Marketing at Credit Sesame. 

One of the biggest questions floating around out there is about what changes marketers are seeing on the ground.

Changes on the ground 

As the economy closed, you might have expected businesses to ramp down their marketing, but, perhaps counter-intuitively, Rebecca is seeing companies expediting or accelerating projects that were already in the works. But they aren’t leaving anything up to chance. With everything we thought we knew about marketing now tossed out the window, Rebecca says we need to “double down on the data” and find out what our audiences are telling us about what they want. Meanwhile, Hermione tells us “we have to be very lean in our approach and be very fast to react to the news around us.” 

Over at Credit Sesame, Jana and her team are also keeping a close eye on what their users want and need during this time of crisis—but rather than just rely on data, this team is asking specific questions. Jana says, “We have daily surveys that are going out, both qualitative and quantitative, and really looking at what our customers are telling us. Because that’s the only way that we can help them if we meet them where they need us, and also adjust our product offerings and the way we talk to them. We went through a big, huge exercise to look at all of our messaging that we have going out in different channels and making sure that we don’t appear tone deaf.” 

And that’s the million dollar message right now. Your marketing can’t be about you—it has to be authentically built around your customers. Solve their problems now and you’ll have a loyal customer for life.  

Shifting consumer behavior 

It’s not just market factors impacting the industry—marketers are having to adjust to changing consumer behavior that were steadily shifting before the COVID-19 crisis but are now rapidly changing. For instance, Hermione says, “Moving forward, if your brand or company doesn’t have a social, environmental, or climate-based advantage, it will fail.” 

We’ve been seeing that shift playing out over the past few years as consumers look to brands to be about more than just selling thing. Customers want to know who you are and what you stand for—and that’s trust now more than ever.  

But at CleverTap, they have the data to tell us exactly how consumers are shifting their mobile behavior during this crisis. 

For example, Sunil says, Houseparty installs are up about 700%, just in March. Meanwhile, e-commerce apps are reportedly up 25% to 30% just in Q1. In other words, we’re seeing the impact of quarantine on user behavior—making Rebecca’s advice to double down on what your data is telling you even more valuable. We can see that people are looking for new ways to connect with the friends, family, and even co-workers, who they can no longer see in person. That seems obvious enough. But the data also shows us that people haven’t stopped buying things just because they’re not going out to the store—or, in some cases, because they aren’t working. 

For instance, Rebecca tells us that while she’s home in her New York apartment, unable to enjoy all that the city usually has to offer, she’s taking some time to tackle home improvement projects. We’ve all seen this playout on our own social media feeds and friends give that neglected bathroom a facelift or finally put in that firepit they’ve been wanting. But now the data confirms that not everyone is putting spending on hold just because of this crisis. But every customer is different, and you’ll need to take a deep dive into your data to know what your customers are looking for right now. 

Adjusting your messaging for the current times 

Marketers are already adjusting their behavior—100% of the attendees polled during our live chat said they were changing their messaging as a result of COVID-19. That’s good news because it means they’re paying attention and understand that we aren’t just doing business as usual. 

This is even true in B2B marketing. “I mean, people are humans first and then professionals later,” Sunil tells us. “So if you want to evolve into the new rules of brand messaging, you want to drive confidence, you want to drive engagement—I think you must appeal to people first and then to the professional second almost. It really requires careful foresight. It requires some thought and planning, and sort of changing the tool sets, I think. And that will change dramatically, I think, just from what we’re seeing in our customers also.” 

To learn more about the trends the marketers in the trenches are seeing and how they’re responding, check out the full webinar here

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