COVID-19: Inflection point for marketing to work with sales for demand stimulation

Dear reader,

I wanted to share a perspective as a CMO on the challenges and opportunities for marketing in the context of COVID-19. Let me begin by reflecting on Marketing itself. Marketing is not a function—it is a way of life and is the experience an organization delivers every moment to the market, customers, employees and to its stakeholders (investors and board).  Therefore everyone in a top class organization actually is a marketer. At ITC Infotech we call this Marketing360 because Marketing in the organization actually never sleeps – across the globe someone, somewhere is representing the organization.

 Having said this, what changes post COVID-19?  As the adage goes, Marketing is always about seeing the glass full.  Let’s start at the root of managing employee and customer perception. Marketing in the time of crisis is actually the communication controller, the vigilant journalist ensuring everyone is informed all the time about how the company is solving the key issues and addressing emergencies.

During this situation, for example, at ITC Infotech we have an ‘Infowire’ which is a daily ready-reckoner communication channel which tells employees how WFH is progressing, client appreciation, employee stories and other information they need to be productive and feel good about themselves and the company. We have a client-wire that goes to all clients, informing them about what is being done, steps being taken and addresses their concerns.  Lastly we have the market dimension – sharing best practices with top consulting firms, analysts and advisories in real time and applying them. 

Now let’s move past the crisis management piece and look at the opportunities. We see the next few months as an opportunity for marketing to work with the sales group and act as an additional demand stimulus channel through well positioned webinars, POVs and briefings with customers, analysts and partners. 

Over the last 2 decades we have seen the evolution of Marketing in the services business with digitization, omnichannel marketing and personalization. This could be the watershed event where Marketing will now have a seat at the table in the IT Services business. With the outbreak of the pandemic, we are already seeing an unprecedented situation playing out. Sales people are working from home and sales models are changing from the physical to the digital.  In this scenario, demand stimulation also changes to a model where everything is done virtually from any part of the world!  This inflection point means that sales must rely on marketing like never before to help stimulate demand through digital channels like webinars, POV pitches, proactive pitches, microsites, and ecosystem plays like virtual round-tables with customers, analysts and partners. 

The value construct framework has changed as we speak and who leads the new normal survives!  We at ITC Infotech have started leading the narrative with POVs on how we are helping customers on different dimensions like virtual infrastructure, persona-based automation, supply/demand simulation modelling, planning models and analytics. Marketing is virtually the sales channel to drive business in today’s time.

Finally, let me end by saying that this is a great opportunity for us to reset our thinking and ask ourselves, “Who do we want to be when the crisis has passed?” The answer is simple: We want to forge deeper collaboration with not just sales, but also with HR, finance and operations to address the ecosystem of employees, customers and stakeholders. Happy Marketing!

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