I was recently honored to be asked to participate in an ebook on how COVID 19 has impacted the field marketer, and most frightening of all, I was asked to predict the future of live events. I don’t have a crystal ball and I tried but failed to learn how to read Tarot cards, but spoiler alert I think events will come back—but will be different. As a field marketer, being close to the field sales organization, I can practically feel them vibrating via Teams. They are stir crazy being house-bound and no matter how many digital tools we arm them with, or social media strategies, there is not now, nor ever will be a replacement for looking someone eye-to-eye and building a connection, even if the rest of your face is behind a mask. But meanwhile, what are we field marketeers meant to do? How do we adapt? How can we innovate? What is field marketing in a post-COVID world?
The very learned David Rogelberg introduced the ebook this way, “We asked 15 top field marketing and account-based marketing professionals to reimagine what field marketing would be like in the future. All of the experts I interviewed agreed that things would never be the same. Surprisingly, most agreed that field marketing would play an even bigger role in the buyer's journey and all felt compelled to raise their digital game.”
After re-reading the ebook once it was finished, I realized how much I had learned from virtually “hearing my peers’ voices” on this evolution. With David’s permission I have excerpted some of my favorite insights here.
“One of the biggest opportunities for marketing in the future will be in nurturing communities. It’s about being part of the conversation rather than trying to own, dictate, or steer the discussions.
So, rather than trying to replicate what we do at in-person events in a digital environment, we have to create unique digital experiences and select just the right technology to operate at scale when it comes to automation, nurturing, and the insights that will support investment in the relationship with buyers.
If you do content marketing well, people will want to come to you based on what you share. You will not have to chase after them.
Marketing is a marriage of science and art, with most marketers traditionally leaning heavily on the artistic side. Now, we need marketers who can function as data scientists, interpreting big data and turning insights into fuel for the marketing machine.”
Malin may have just given me the theme of my next tattoo: “Marketing is a marriage of science and art.” Its so true in our jobs as field marketers we have to be to be data driven, we forecast our goals and provide insights on its results, but it must always be done with an eye for what new thing could we also being doing?
“What has changed since the pandemic is that field marketing is creating not just the event space but also the virtual connection between sales and clients through virtual happy hours (or ice-cream socials) and roundtables. For the virtual happy hours, we use any kind of customer success as a reason to celebrate.”
I love this idea and fully intend to steal it! Cheering the wins are part of our core maxims at Progress and I think this idea for riding that momentum into a way to team build virtually is brilliant. And who doesn’t love a good ice cream social?
“By helping sales bridge the gap through virtual roundtables, marketing now owns more like two-thirds of the buyer journey. I take the buyer journey map to the point of major decision-making. Then, I layer in the client’s perspective. In doing so, marketing now sees clients all the way through to the ‘commit to solution’ stage.
We have all been playing with digital marketing for a while now, but we really need vendors that can step up and ensure better results than they have in the past because our marketing dollars are more precious than ever.”
Two-thirds of the buyer journey! I don’t disagree with Andy but I do have to say reading his comments bent my shoulders a bit under the weight of keeping my sales team’s families fed during the pandemic and beyond. It sobered me (in a good way) about how much is riding on our performance and results as field marketers. Our stakes have always been high, but maybe now more than ever.
Erik started his commentary with something I find myself saying all the time, “We live by the mantra that everyone in the organization is either in sales or sales support roles.” I say this a lot, everyone in the organization should feel like they are in sales including support to see our customers successfully using our solutions and on a path for a long relationship with us.
He continued to explain more of his new strategy, “We are expanding our content library to develop additional content assets, including blogs, videos, infographics, white papers, and repurposed content from recent quarters. For example, we will re-create a graphic, headline, or quote from a previous asset to make the content asset more relevant to today’s environment. The idea is to have more assets available for tactical use when we are back to ‘normal.’
One final tactic is taking advantage of the break from live events and travel to work on projects we did not have time to do before, including enhancements to our website and cleaning up our marketing databases. The idea is to get everything honed and efficient so that when our field marketing engine is running again at full throttle in a post-pandemic environment, we’ll be ready.”
Content, content, content, and BTW did you think about reusing your content? I find this is insightful advice from Erik. And I do have to say I am inspired by his “let's be ready for the post-pandemic” spirit. I personally struggle with envisioning what the light at the end of this tunnel is. But Erik’s words of leadership, gave me a lot to think about.
I preface Nicole’s comments by saying I felt a bit like that Roberta Flack song “Killing me softly (with her words).” Everything she said about her early COVID marketing life felt like she and I shared a diary and she was telling my whole life with her words. Our collective cheese was moved in March and April, and we had to figure it out while keeping funnels full.
“For March and part of April, we changed our content to focus on how the whole world was feeling and addressing issues such as communicating with customers, being efficient in operations, and working remotely…we had to make digital content a larger part of our marketing plan. We then faced challenges trying to stand out and build community online. Forums, for example, provide a different experience and enable us to communicate directly with customers.”
I love David’s global view of not just including U.S. employees with global field marketing teams, but he “took it to the streets” and talked to people on the ground fighting for their MQLs in other parts of the world. I often say, especially regarding our Latin American region, every forecast call is a current events lesson. I was likewise taken to school in reading Jan’s commentary.
“As for building the marketing pipeline, the big winner here is digital transformation. Digital content is relatively new in this region (about 30 percent digital versus 70 percent live events), yet now it has to be effective across the entire funnel, from the top down to the acceleration stage. Now, every activity at each stage in the customer relationship journey must be digital.
Here in Latin America, we embrace face-to-face relationships. Within a week, however, cultural norms changed for our teams and clients. We—meaning sales, marketing, and clients—are now all in the same home-office scenario and navigating the new norms together. We now have to figure out how to build relationships digitally, as well. ...
I think, however, that trends toward digital content will continue, with Latin America becoming more balanced and emphasizing digital more. We are proving that digital content can work across all parts of the funnel and is more cost-effective than live events. …”
As a field marketeer, I continue to hold our current situation up to the light like a prism. What’s refactoring and what colors are strongest? We’ve been thrown in a brand-new pond and we’re paddling and paddling to not just survive but figure out how we can help our sales team thrive.
If you’ve read this far it is my guess you’re a marketer, and you know I have to add a CTA. So I will say Sitefinity is a fairly priced web content management system which can help you improve your digital experience. I do mean it, I am a Sitefinity user, and my whole team is and we have endeavored to up our game in our current climate.
So request a demo, and please do ask to have me included and I will give you my best marketing lessons learned and honestly tell you what I love about Sitefinity. We struggle internally with “are we trying to capitalize on the pandemic?” and maybe some of you are struggling with that too. But my motivation is to help, we have solutions that can help you through and maybe emerge even stronger. So lets talk at least, I would love to learn what you are doing to adept.
Jen McAdams was Vice President of Global Demand Generation and Field Marketing.
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