Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 59 seconds

The CMO role has been in flux for some time with some eliminating it altogether, other splitting the responsibilities up among new and existing executive leaders, while some organizations are evolving the role. The coronavirus pandemic and its aftermath will undoubtedly change it even further.

Firms are being forced to take new approaches today--and that could become part of the new normal. Today, many marketers are finding the "hard sell" is much harder, if not impossible, for the foreseeable future. Customers’ needs, both in relation to one’s brand and beyond, are squarely back in focus.

Empathy. Helpfulness. Compassion. These are traits that are in demand now because the current situation calls for them more than ever. Many Americans are sheltering in place. Ten million Americans filed for unemployment over a two week span. Stores have closed across the country. Many firms are focusing on retaining existing customers and deepening relationships in a very personal way with both consumers and partners.

Understanding the Mood of the Country

While it is always important to know your audience, the current situation has left many chief marketers without a clear playbook. This has left many marketers to default to the “We’re here for you” message right out of the gate.

“Customers have little patience during this time as they navigate their own business challenges, so the message needs to be about helpfulness and what the vendor is doing to make their life easier at this particular moment,” says Tony Thompson, Kemp chief marketing officer, according to a recent CMO article.

ireland 531137 640smallMarketers have also had to show a fair amount of creativity to get in front of their audience and business partners just to make a positive impression and reinforce the brand. Jay Sethi CMO of Diageo Beer, maker of Guinness said it had to scrap its plans for St. Patrick’s Day, a big day in the beer business, due to the outbreak. Instead, it focused efforts--and $500,000 so far--on helping bartenders and other industry workers hurt by the pandemic. So reports Forbes.

The brand also shot a new commercial that Sethi hopes “would bring a bit of comfort to both Guinness drinkers and also to everybody.” It doesn’t mention COVID-19, but the subtext is clear, he says.

Changing Consumer Habits

Following the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, it took many Americans several years before they felt fully comfortable returning to public life they way they had before. Now, consumers are developing new shopping habits and are interacting with brands in an entirely new way. Many consumers not already used to ordering groceries online, for example, are now being forced to do so. Will they simply return to their old shopping habits once society reopens, or will they stick with this new way of doing things?

Consumers are also being conditioned to view things in different ways than before. Many families are getting back to basics, such as homestyle family dinners. And, the fear of crowds, and push for social distancing, may have long-lasting impacts.

CMOs will now need to understand these shifting trends, map out new customer journeys amid an uncertain landscape, and be able to engage business partners in ways they haven’t before. In a world not so long ago, CMOs were increasingly being pushed to demonstrate, with solid numbers, the value they bring to the organization. Now, they may have to live in a world where their efforts may be less quantifiable in the short term.

As a recent DigiDay article put it: “when it comes to the marketing industry a return to business as usual is downright impossible.”

Last modified on Wednesday, 08 April 2020
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