This article originally appeared on Forbes
Are there any benefits to working remotely, caused by the pandemic? Siegel+Gale, the global brand experience firm, talked with 26 marketing leaders from some of the world’s top brands, including CVS Health, Goldman Sachs, Fandango, NHL, Petco and Pfizer, on conducting business in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. What they found was interesting (see full study here).
- CMOs identified a number of silver linings that resulted from the pandemic. The benefits included: improved business processes, faster decision making, less tolerance for office politics, accelerated digital transformation, and stronger employee relationships. Tariq Hassan, CMO of Petco suggested, employees often delivered miraculous results. For example, he applauded his team’s ability to quickly turn stores into distribution centers for online orders.
- At the beginning, the pandemic forced a focus on the short term. Over time, that has evolved, and more CMOs are getting back to more of a long-term focus. Sixty percent of CMOs are either focusing solely on the long term or are balancing short- and long-term planning. Muriel Lotto, Global Head of Brand and Marketing at Western Union, described how given the success of video meetings during the pandemic, going forward her team will reconsider how many times they will fly somewhere for a one hour meeting.
- Established brands have the edge over disrupters. Consumers were seen to gravitate to brands they knew and trusted rather than newer disruptors, as they sought less uncertainty in a very uncertain situation. This often benefits market-share leading brands.
- Brands have experienced increased engagement from customers on digital channels. Jeremy Skule, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Nasdaq, described how the company’s client webinars are conservatively seeing between three and five times the number of attendees.
- The CMOs noted a number of lessons for the future. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of brand/firm commitment to social purpose. CMOs noted that it is more than CSR. During this time, CMOs suggested that simple and regular communication will be essential to cut through the clutter. Finally, events and interactions in the future will have to have a virtual touchpoint.
“The way CMOs respond to this crisis is a defining moment that will be remembered for decades,” said Margaret Molloy, Global CMO, Siegel+Gale. “Our respondents stressed the importance of avoiding the ‘empathy washing’ trap by engaging in meaningful actions supported by messages that are clear, authentic and useful. Covid-19 is a cognitive tax on people. These CMOs realize that brands need to reduce the cognitive effort required of customers to interact with them. This is manifesting in a renewed focus on simplicity.”