As you’d probably expect, the Coronavirus has cropped up more than just a couple of times in recent weeks, and so our 33rd round-up’s dedicated solely to Covid-19 questions and answers.
There aren’t many organizations who aren’t - in one way or another - being affected by what’s going on in the world, so if you’ve got a question you need answering or problem you want hashing out, we have tons of people on-hand to help - and this is not a heartless plug to our Slack community. If you don’t want to join, that’s absolutely fine, just leave your question(s) in the comments below and we’ll put it to our community on your behalf and let you know what they say.
Q: Especially when it comes to social media and your messaging, do you address the elephant in the room or keep the copy to ‘business as usual?’ What’s the right balance?
“For us, the focus remains on solving customers' business problems. The customers are being inundated by marketing tactics around the virus, so we have decided to acknowledge the tough times, but not use it as a scare and/or marketing tactic.”
- Parag Pathak, Team Lead, Product Marketing at IBM
“Business as usual should be the focus. Prospects will see right through anything that is even slightly veiled in anything to do with the virus. A lot of companies could do a lot to hurt their reputation by doing any marketing that has any messaging aligned to it. If anything, sticking to a sense of normalcy by simply focusing on what your company does best and not being reactive could go a long way in providing your audience with a sense of normalcy among these very abnormal circumstances. We're all in the same boat, contributing to any hysteria would be irresponsible.”
- Matt Powell, Product Marketing Manager at Docebo
“I feel that acknowledging that times are difficult is good, but switching campaigns to piggyback the virus isn't wise.”
- Jagruti Bhargav, Marketing and Communication Strategist at SocialPilot
Q: Considering the recent developments of the Coronavirus outbreak and economic downturn, how is the hiring velocity in your companies? Is there any slowdown expected?
A: Here are the responses that came in on Slack:
- I am in an active search in the US and Canada. I haven’t noticed a steep fall in the openings, however, responses to applications are definitely lower and the process is much slower too.
- I'm still seeing openings but responses have been slow and getting slower since the middle of February.
- We've put our hiring on hold for the next 1.5 months (for now).
- I just had a job offer put on hold indefinitely.
- I’ve been moving slowly through stages and the final round’s been put on hold. It definitely helps me evaluate as a candidate how companies operate when things are on fire.
Q: I’m curious to see how the COVID-19 situation is impacting your website traffic/demand for products. I understand that this would differ across industries. However, I’m keener to understand the impact on B2B/B2D segment. I work for a product that's developer-centric...considering this target segment may mostly still continue to work from home, has anyone in a similar sector seen a reduction in demand/website traffic? Have PMMs in similar space changed their Q1 targets/strategy to accommodate this unforeseen chain of events?
A: Here’s what a few fellow PMAers had to say:
“I work in a B2B SaaS company and we are facing some challenges when it comes to sales, given the ongoing Covid-19 crisis. The best foot forward here is to establish why your product or service can help your prospect achieve business continuity. If you can help your prospects reign in the chaos, there is a chance for you to close a sale even in these turbulent times.”
“I also work in B2B SaaS and we've actually seen a slight increment in the percentage of new visitors coming to our platform - comparing March results with that of Feb, and I'd say it's not actually very surprising. Given that people are working from home and saving a good amount of time on their commute and other non-productive hours, they're probably browsing and reading more. I think this could be a good time to do some email marketing and send some old but good stuff (articles, ebooks, etc.) to customers as well as prospects.”
“I'm in the B2B SaaS contingent and we’re definitely seeing really interesting trends in traffic right now. We have some "how to work from home securely" resources that just had their traffic go through the roof in the last week. However, at this moment, people seem really hungry for information and aren't converting to demos/signing up for our freemium product. We were already planning to focus on live demos and webinars, which I'm hoping will work out well given that one thing many of us want right now is literally to talk and interact with other humans.”
Q: My company is trying to pivot right now since our biggest sponsorship event of the year was moved to a digital experience, so we're in the process of creating our own digital experience where attendees can still request demos, learn about our apps, watch the talks we were going to present, etc. The question I have is, does anyone have any ideas regarding digital swag or giveaways now? It's not realistic that we'll be able to ship anything any time soon, so physical giveaways are tough, but we still want to offer folks something and incentivize some lead collection.
A: Gift cards were suggested...but they can come with a ton of legal restrictions in some places and so might not be the best route to go down.
Another idea that came in was education credits - if done right, these could be nicely positioned into something along the lines of "to help keep you occupied on lockdown," too.
Our favorite suggestion though, was offering to donate to a charity on their behalf. Blood banks are desperately low at the moment and anything to support them through the crisis is a win for them, you and your audience.
Q: How is Covid-19 impacting everyone’s demand-gen efforts/calendar? Attempting/encouraging any prospecting or direct demand-gen feels off. Is it best to pause or try proceeding as planned with some empathy about everything that’s happening?
A: Here’s what Sandy Mangat, the Director of Product Marketing at ThoughtWire, said:
“We have a lot of RFPs in flight and our teams are definitely moving the needle on those opportunities but prospecting and demand gen have taken a hit with a few of our planned events getting canceled.
“Our products serve healthcare and commercial real estate so we have been trying to provide educational and useful content to customers and prospects without coming across sales-y right now but it’s definitely challenging in the current climate.”
And here are some more comments that came in:
“We’re fine continuing forward with current opportunities, but most of our previously planned demand-gen campaigns feel ill-advised. We’re adjusting our strategy to focus on helping our customers with timely thought leadership but that still leaves our SDR/outbound strategy with some question marks.”
- Jeremy Goldstein, Product Marketing Manager at Taplytics
“We’re adjusting all campaigns and messaging to ensure empathy and also provide guidance to our businesses - very rough times for those in the wellness industry.”
- Jessica Wright, Head of Product Marketing at MINDBODY
Q: Is anyone else creating Corona/recession-related messaging at the moment? How are you approaching it?
A: The consensus here is yes, but carefully. There’s already a ton of “here’s how you can work from home” material out there so instead, try to focus on things that are super important to your audience if/when we go into recession.
Tip: try to remove as much pitching as possible to avoid leaving that "disaster profiteer" taste in anyone's mouth.
And here’s what Cam Davies, a Product Marketer at Bonfire, had to say:
“Our product can also allow teams to work from home more easily. We need to lock our message down because I've had many reps show me their outgoing message - I've rewritten a few to avoid sounding like "pandemic profiteers." However, this may be the new normal for a few months. One simple change is that I'm turning up the "digitize" value prop.”
Q: The coronavirus is the toughest thing many have faced, for sure. I'm observing, though, some mega/meta trends across companies and verticals that may just send us all collectively roaring out the other side of this:
- Forced to break the cycle of putting on and going to shows, at least temporarily, companies are instead aiming to draw 3-5-10x the number of attendees to their virtual events, and being active participants in other events. Net result may be more and better-qualified leads at far lower opex and opportunity cost.
- Forced to break the cycle of sending salespeople on the road, companies are training them to reach even their toughest prospects who, suddenly working from home, are, some for the first time in years, more receptive to a friendly voice/face on the other end of a phone or Zoom.
- Our hearts ache for everyone in the travel and hospitality industry, including our son-in-law, but the bonus most companies are not yet talking about is the huge savings they are already starting to reap from not having to pay, at least temporarily, for all of that travel. If companies are able to get solid results at far lower cost, it may lead to different corporate behavior going forward, pandemic or not.
What are your experiences with and thoughts on this so far?
“I also think there will be innovation in tech solutions that promote remote work. Companies that may have never considered purchasing Slack or Zoom may start investing in these collaboration tools. Another area is education: there was a rise in on-demand education already, but with many schools and universities delivering lectures and administering exams remotely, these systems are being put to the test now. Unfortunately, before we get to this growth, there will be layoffs and restructuring as businesses cope with this suppressed demand.”
- Matheen Raza, Product Marketer at Machine Learning Software
“In addition to staying nimble and adapting, the company I'm with (which does real estate marketing software and agency services) is taking the mantra of staying useful to our clients. The range is vast- some are biz as usual and others are heads down/focused on other immediate tasks. One of our verticals is senior living communities which you can imagine are in the thick of this. We're helping clients in self-storage utilize online leasing tools more and others in multifamily use virtual leasing tours to adapt.”
- Chris Hanson, Product Marketing Manager at G5