How CMOs can adapt to new waters; sustaining bonds with customers amidst a pandemic

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TransForm Solutions

Marketing leaders have a tough job in hand; not only they have to face the tectonic shifts in the business dynamics that happen within an organization, but they also have to pay attention and adapt to the haphazard consumer behavior and their pivoted needs due to the pandemic.

To dissect down, here are the main issues that CMOs in the world are facing now:



In this article, let's discuss ways CMOs can mitigate these issues and run successful campaigns forming deep bonds with the customers all the time, and keeping their brand useful and relevant.

1. Do your part to ensure the safety of customers, start a reform

In today's world, it is not the government nor even the people, unfortunately, but corporates that can ignite reforms and make quantifiable changes in society. Take, for example, SpaceX by Tesla, which is the first private organization to launch people into space.

More close-to-ground examples are food delivery apps like Grubhub and UberEats and ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft. These businesses have changed the very way we eat and commute.

The point here is that brands and businesses can make disruptive cultural changes.

In the current scenario, people are pulled between contradictory information and do not know what the best practice to follow. As a CMO, you can develop an omnichannel marketing campaign on steps to avoid contracting COVID-19 and the definitive steps they need to take and why.

Not only will you be doing a humanitarian task, but you will position yourself as a socially responsible brand. And, customers always choose socially responsible brands according to a report by Edelman Group.

2. Empowering employees to cater to customers better

Like Richard Branson founder and CEO of the Australian Virgin Group says, 'Take care of your employees, and your employees will take care of your customers.' This commonsensical advice is also the most effective during such times of uncertainty, fear, and desperation.

Out of all the things people are suffering, they also have to work from home forcefully. And at times, some employees, if not many, may require time to adapt to it. This, combined with increasing work-load to rebuild the affected aspects of the business, creates a problematic situation for the employees.

The best thing leaders can do during this time is to provide moral support to employees, give more leeway to them, ascertain job security, and promote a generally positive outlook.

However, this will not suffice the kind of workforce enablement that is required. One of the practices that can fare well to businesses during these times is to onboard experts to create cross-functional teams.

This will help you in three ways:

  • To revive the affected aspects of businesses faster by having experts onboard.
  • Outsourcing can reduce the overhead costs of having employees in-house.
  • You'll be taking an extra load off from your current employees.

As a CMO, you can reduce the burden off the shoulders of your marketing and communications team by outsourcing tasks like copywriting, blogging, graphic designing, and others. Not only will this strengthen your team to cater to your customers better, but you will also be generating employment during these dire times.

3. Pouring empathy in all communications and understanding new needs

During these times, customers are looking for continuous support and connection wherever possible. Brands provide solace along with services during such times.

Create an external communication narrative so everyone in your organization can have unambiguous knowledge of how the company shall empathize with the customers and also serve them during these uncertain times through products/services or otherwise.

Ensure that this narrative is also shared with your internal stakeholders like HR, Sales Team, Customer Success, and Finance so they also convey this to their respective customers and partners.

As a CMO, you must reimagine your marketing strategy keeping in mind the new needs of the customers. You should shift budgets (and not underinvest) to where the customer now is. According to a TechCrunch study, usage of social media during the latter half of March 2020 has grown as much as 30-40% compared to pre-COVID-19 times.

Mar-com teams should not lose the analytical focus now and continue to track user behavior and dive deep into their user data to make informed marketing decisions. This will allow you to retain existing customers by cultivating one-on-one bonds and delivering messages people are most likely to resonate with now. This will not only make your customers feel good but also allow you to stay relevant during such times.

For instance, HSBC India has launched a campaign on YouTube, where they have roped in experts from various fields from parenting to banking to music to teach their skills to the people.

4. Reimagining in-flight campaigns with sensitivity

Marketing and communication leaders must prioritize upcoming reimagining campaigns that had been designed in the pre-COVID era. You should either pause or stop in-flight campaigns if they are irrelevant to the current times. Keeping a constant eye on the new campaigns for relevance is also important. Campaigns should be run, keeping in mind the sensitivity of the times.

Here are the things, CMOs need to consider, in detail:

1. Reassess past campaigns

Times have changed drastically, and the pre-COVID world is now a distant dream to us. With this, the way brands should communicate should also change.

It is imperative not to run campaigns designed before Coronavirus, at least without resigning them for sensitivity to current times.

For instance, Google had an Android campaign coming out this year with the tagline 'going out and about.

'Would this be a relevant thing to say now? Some weeks ago, yes for sure but now -- not at all.'

2. In touch with the ground reality

The impact of Coronavirus is different in different countries or even in different parts of the same country, and according to that are the rules.

These rules also keep changing if new clusters of cases are found, or no new cases are found for that matter. Decisions are also made based on how the government wants to act for the economy.

The point here is, even though you cater to a global audience, customize your campaigns keeping in mind the local ground reality, to avoid looking merely absurd.

3. Sensitivity with creatives

There are quite a few things you need to look at when it comes to the nitty-gritty of the campaigns. Creatives, tone of speech, and colors everything should be assessed for sensitivity.

Creatives -- visuals and copies, tone of a campaign, and colors have a subliminal on the psyche of the people.

For instance, avoid running any campaigns that involve a gathering of people, or people hugging or shaking hands.

Keep humor in your campaigns, keep them light-hearted, and pour in tremendous hope and optimism in them for people to look forward to something after this storm ends.

Use colors and images that are not dull and depressing but rather cheerful in your campaigns. You might need to tap into the use of the concept of color psychology in marketing and advertising.

In Conclusion

In these testing times, only those who adapt quickly, are socially responsible, and are empathetic will not only survive but thrive.

CMOs have to row two boats at the same time during these rough waters; they have to ensure the brand stays relevant to the people's eyes and also that the company's communication towards the public is sensitive and helpful in some ways beyond providing them the services and products.

TransForm Solutions has successfully assisted many Marketing Teams and Marketing agencies in managing and optimizing their digital operations. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, we have been serving clients for the past 19 years now.

To mark your footprints in the digital space, let us help you out in executing your digital marketing strategy and in providing experts to implement the same.

Reach us out at or call us on 732 829 6935.

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