This post originally appeared on LinkedIn.
Without a doubt, the word du jour is “change.” A month ago, it seemed like all the world was an oyster, with opportunities abounding. Today, shelter-in-place orders and work disruptions have become our new norm as conditions outside our control lead to social cancellations, remote work, hiring freezes, and budget cuts. COVID-19 created a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions, shattered our global economy, and fueled consumer fears of what’s still to come.
Even for seasoned marketing leaders, this is a difficult time. There is no economic playbook for how you should handle a recession, although studying what others have done and the resulting impact can help navigate the uncertainty.There is no economic playbook for how you should handle a recession, although studying what others have done and the resulting impact can help navigate the uncertainty. Click To Tweet
In an interesting HBR study of prior recessions, researchers found a common differentiator amongst organizations who fared well and those that didn’t: preparation. The organizations that stagnated or didn’t survive at all failed to consider alternative scenarios. As a result, they only “limped through the recession,” were slower to recover or some never caught up at all. On the flip side, the organizations that adapted to the new conditions not only survived but flourished once the economy began to rebound.
As I look around today, I see organizations quickly adapting, innovating operating models, and shifting efforts to meet changing customer needs. Among them:
LCI Education, a network of 23 higher education institutions, including LaSalle College, spanning across five continents, quickly pivoted from onsite classes to an online model. Starting with only a fraction of their student body online, LCI was able to get 100% online in a 2-week time period, a remarkable achievement. And they are not stopping there— plans to create virtual campus tours and virtual open houses are in the works, too.
TELUS Health has a similar story. Quickly regrouping after COVID-19 found its way into Canada, the product, sales, and marketing teams mapped out what would help their network of healthcare providers, pharmacists, governments, and employers the most. With their long-term vision to improve accessibility and efficiency in healthcare delivery by providing Canadians and their care teams with the technology to access care virtually and digitally, the team went into high gear to support their customers with solutions that answered the specific needs of COVID-19. This included offering existing products for free for four months, such as solutions that encourage social distancing by managing traffic at the clinic. They also ramped up promotion of other products, such as Akira by TELUS Health, a virtual care solution that helps employers to provide their employees with 24/7 on-demand access to clinicians, in both English and French. And finally, the team accelerated the development of a solution that allows their physician customers to connect virtually with their patients thereby limiting contagion risk and ensuring continuity of care. And the most impressive part— this piece was brought to life just one month after the beginning of the pandemic.
“TELUS Health has been working to digitize Canadian healthcare for years. This pandemic accelerated our efforts to provide alternatives to help Canadians access healthcare while staying home,” commented Marie-Claire Charlton, Senior Marketing Manager. “Besides offering more options for patient care, it’s also expanded the capacity of health practitioners at a time when it’s needed most,” she added. Sounds like a win all around to me.
And another brilliant example of marketing adaptation— a luxury appliance manufacturer had been strategically improving customer experience through advanced usage of Marketo well before the pandemic hit. So when the crisis impacted its retailers across the country, they were prepared. Rather than make knee-jerk decisions based on one or two data points, the organization turned to the marketing operations and data analytics team for a comprehensive view of the business.Rather than make knee-jerk decisions based on one or two data points, the organization turned to the marketing operations and data analytics team for a comprehensive view of the business. Click To Tweet
“We took control of our story,” remarked the marketing operations manager. “Because we had the data, we were able to provide stakeholders deep insight into our funnel activity. We changed our reporting from monthly to weekly, so we could make adjustments as needed, as the situation was evolving. We were also able to isolate the top three activities influencing our sales and adjusted our scoring model based on engagement with those specific campaigns. As a result, we’ve rebounded from the initial dip we experienced in leads ready for sales; our MQLs are at or above pre-COVID levels with quality maintained. Best of all, our organization has confidence in the direction we’re headed because of the data we’re providing.” Amazing. And such a wonderful tale of how marketing operations helped a major brand navigate a global crisis.
The old adage, “when you can’t control what is happening, challenge yourself to control the way you respond to what’s happening,” has never rung truer.The old adage, “when you can’t control what is happening, challenge yourself to control the way you respond to what’s happening,” has never rung truer. Click To Tweet
I love hearing stories of marketing operations triumphs. If you have a story you’d like to share with me, please do. I welcome the opportunity to publish the great work that you and your team are doing and showcase real-life examples of how marketing operations not only helped your organization overcome the disruption of COVID-19 but position your organization to thrive in our new world.