How will brands survive life after COVID?

By staying focused. 

Clark Newby, Interim CMO at Castlight Health and principal at JCN Advisory, says B2B marketers should pick up their shovels and build post-pandemic pipelines with a clear business focus

A panel of CMOs and marketing leaders agree. At “Spirited Conversations,” the monthly virtual event hosted by Leadtail, B2B marketers shared insights about how to build pipelines with a clearer business focal point. 

How Do Brands Focus Right Now?

Strategic Focus

Referencing Geoffery Moore’s best-selling book “Crossing the Chasm,” Clark said brands should adopt a strategic customer focus as the pandemic recedes. There should be a strong focus on the “core,” where organizations create differentiation to win back customers.

“The companies I’ve worked with have had to figure out how to plan 2021,” said Clark. “Any incremental investments this year need to address the core. Everything else is on pause until we get through this pandemic.” 

Planning Focus

Currently, senior marketers are modeling various scenarios for the post-pandemic landscape, but there are fewer investigative and exploratory projects.

“There’s just less getting done,” said Clark. “After 12 years of economic expansion, the pandemic has washed away many business projects.”

With fewer projects comes fewer opportunities, but marketers shouldn’t lose focus on their objectives, even if these objectives are far smaller than before.

Operational Focus

Post-pandemic, budgets have thawed, there are fewer consideration cycles, and work/life balance holds greater importance, said Clark. So brands should focus on core operations rather than taking on new projects. There should be an overwhelming emphasis on re-establishing the organization’s original mission. Or if COVID has changed that mission, a focus on establishing a new one. 

Post-Pandemic Pipelines: What Do the Experts Think?

On Pandemic Challenges

“We had a tough job as marketers because sales were difficult to engage. It’s difficult to build trust over a Zoom call compared to a handshake or meeting someone.” 

On the State of the Industry

“From the top-down, the assumption is ‘We’re going to get back to growth now.’ But how are we supposed to do that after the hole we slid into last year? There are tighter expectations and tighter processing around budgeting. I’ve seen higher anxiety this year.”

“Right now, CFOs are looking to cut, cut, cut. Every thousand or two thousand dollar investment out of a $12 million budget is being scrutinized, and it’s very hard because they are looking so short-term right now.” 

On the Good Things to Come Out of the Pandemic

“I’d hate to go through it again. Don’t get me wrong, I hate COVID, but it gave us time to focus.”

On Building Better Relationships

“I have a better relationship with the finance team now. I meet them once a week.”

On Future Working Arrangements

“There’s light at the end of the tunnel for many industries out there. We can at least get back to a hybrid working model.”

“Some folks are going back to the office, but there’s still anxiety because we haven’t figured out a post-COVID blueprint.”

Final Word

The marketers participating in this virtual event agreed: COVID changed everything. From budget cuts to fewer projects, the pandemic affected every aspect of the sector. Now, as vaccines go into arms and life slowly returns to normal, brands need to create post-pandemic pipelines with focus. It’s the only way to survive.

Watch Clark’s presentation here.

If you’d like to attend one of our monthly Spirited Conversations events, keep an eye on LinkedIn to register. 

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