Marketing Amid Covid-19: Conversations on Leadership, Communicating & Empathy

By Paige O’Neill, CMO at Sitecore

Paige O'Neill
May 23, 2020 · 3 min read

Sitecore delivers a digital experience platform that empowers the world’s smartest brands to build lifelong relationships with customers. Founded in Denmark in 1998, initially innovating content management software, Sitecore has since evolved to provide one of the industry’s leading digital experience platform and commerce solutions, enabling streamlined personalization and omnichannel content capabilities for some of the world’s largest brands like L’Oreal, American Express and Volvo.

How I shared my message

LinkedIn has been a great way to stay connected with critical audiences in a collaborative and open environment. Since working from home during the pandemic, I launched a video chat series on my page to open up dialogue with customers, partners and marketing experts on how to move forward during the crisis. So far, I’ve had the opportunity to talk about what leadership, marketing, customer service, business and daily work looks like right now with experts including Allison Abraham Simpkins from Valtech, content marketing guru Ian Truscott, Liz High from marketing agency Metia and Drew Neisser from Renegade Thinkers Unite.

It’s been a great way to discuss the current struggles every organization is facing during this time of uncertainty and share perspective on how we can navigate the new landscape.

The response I received

I started with an initial post to gauge interest from connections on LinkedIn and have had nothing but positive feedback, including offers from industry contacts, to participate in the series. The videos have sparked further dialogue via comments and one-off conversations. It’s provided me with a bridge to customers and partners when many of us are feeling isolated and a more personal voice is needed. It’s also generating great insights for everyone involved. I currently have several more chats that are recorded and will be posted soon, with even more being scheduled. The response has been tremendous and has also spurred blogs authored by some of my guests about the chat including one from Ian Truscott and the Metia organization, as well.

Dos/Don’ts of crisis communication

I think the main concern organizations have, and rightfully so, is how do we avoid being opportunistic. Many businesses have reduced ad spend for this reason. We focus a lot on enabling more human connections through technology, but organizations must take that ethos to heart across their entire culture. When I spoke with Ian Truscott, his biggest recommendation to marketers was that they should approach everything right now and into the recovery with empathy because even though a business may be doing okay, you don’t know how the people behind the business have been impacted personally.

The last thing any organization wants to be doing during the crisis is to promote themselves with messages that are tone-deaf to the current reality customers and employees are living in. If conducting outreach around products and services, it should be pertinent to how your company is stepping up to support customers and offering solutions that will help them adjust to what’s become the new normal.

Getting back to business

Right now, we’re focused on listening to customers and partners, and helping them maximize use of their Sitecore solutions as digital content and commerce are top of mind for many organizations.

Helping brands adapt their organizations to take on a digital-first model will be important as we all work to bounce back from a difficult economic period. Liz High at Metia, for example, mentioned during our LinkedIn conversation that her firms’ social listening research of B2B sentiment during the pandemic began tracking in early February. By early March the sentiment was quite negative as everyone adjusted to working from home and then very quickly shifted to a sentiment of “getting things done,” with digital transformation playing a major role.

I don’t think it will be business as usual any time soon, but we will get to a new normal where we have moved through the crisis — taking our learnings and adjusting to emerge even stronger.

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Paige O'Neill

Written by

Paige O’Neill is the CMO of Sitecore, the global leader in digital experience management software.

The Helm

Business leadership advice, from real business leaders. The Helm is a carefully curated collection of insightful content from the business frontlines.

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