This amazing advice was pulled directly from The Marketer’s Journey Podcast.
Under optimal circumstances, marketing isn’t easy. The COVID-19 pandemic makes these far from optimal circumstances.
Marketing during such a difficult time in our society requires more from us than ever before as we focus on what really matters in life. At the moment, marketing can feel like an insurmountable challenge because everyone’s lives have been disrupted.
But the thing marketers can’t forget is that we excel at overcoming challenges. We have playbooks full of strategies for how to market successfully. In the past few weeks, I’ve had some really inspiring conversations with fellow marketing leaders. Here’s what I’ve taken away.
1. Acknowledge Difficulties
“For every single buyer, we want to create a buyer’s journey for them that is meaningful, that has answers to the problems they’re facing.”
Joshua Leatherman, CMO at Service Express, explained to me why he drills down into content marketing. He brings the buyer in through content so that he can really speak to their pain points and serve their needs.
Josh and I also chatted about how:
The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing because the buyer sees something that has value
Content should be full of keywords that are important to the buyer so the buyer will consume it
Your content should be all about value, not about selling
Given the circumstances of the pandemic, it’s important to lead with value and end with value when it comes to content. You should acknowledge the difficulties of the time and then show your plan to serve the buyer.
The bottom line is this: Meaningful content is honest about providing value for relevant problems.
2. Use Your Product to Address Needs
“We're really after a tight alignment between what we do from a product marketing perspective and a product management perspective.”
Product should take its rightful place at the heart of marketing
When product and marketing are truly aligned, you have ties to many other departments and campaigns
Product marketing requires you to know a breadth of disciplines
Chris explained that a product focus allows him to serve his company by connecting nearly every department. Product marketing also provides an optimistic view of the future. If you take a customer and feature-driven approach, you’re going to be designing marketing that’s “future proof.” In other words, you’ll be planning for where your customers are headed.
My key takeaway here is when in doubt, return focus to the product.
3. Sell Strategically, Not Functionally
“At every stage, we're challenging people to think about their problem a little bit differently. At the top of funnel, we're doing it in content. At the bottom of the funnel, we're doing it with the sales process.”
Andrea Lechner-Becker, CMO at LeadMD, quit her job for a year to write her novel about a woman’s last days alive. If that doesn’t bring what matters into perspective, nothing will. The project gave Andrea clarity about what’s truly important in marketing, too. She explained:
Strategic selling starts with trust
Her agency’s best customers trust her as a strategic component of their go-to-market
When someone chooses to work with a marketer at an agency, they’re pretty much putting their job into your hands
When a client says they don’t have good lead scoring, it’s her job to cut to the heart of the problem. “Are you trying to gain market share somewhere? What are the tactical consequences of low lead scoring there?” That’s the kind of insight into problems that builds the trust and partnership Andrea identifies as key.
To put it simply, strategic marketing reveals needs that customers may not have known they had.
4. Have Some Fun
“The marketing team is the custodian of the brand. It’s not the brand.”
Fun is the key to engagement on social media. Fun doesn’t mean irresponsible or irreverent—but it’s a quality that takes our responses from mediocre “like” to up to “love.” Henk Campher, VP of Corporate Marketing at Hootsuite, told me that fun is a personality trait that also marks an effective brand. He also shared how:
Compelling stories are the key to shaping a brand
Strong emotional responses can only arise out of stories that connect on an emotional level
Henk explained that narrative and fun create a memorable brand. If some people love your brand, others may hate you, but that’s okay. Mediocrity is the real standard for whether branding is effectual or not.
His philosophy is that without fun, your marketing just isn’t as effective.
When I reflect on these interviews with Andrea, Chris, Henk, and Josh, I’m amazed how these four strategies about fun, product, content, and strategy speak to the underlying challenge of connecting with the buyer. Remembering that this goal hasn’t changed will help marketers through the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic and recenter us on the heart of our work.
Content should acknowledge problems.
Product should solve problems.
Strategy should uncover problems.
Fun should alleviate problems.