The pandemic has caused unprecedented upheaval in the corporate world, and we marketers are trying to find our bearings in an environment unlike any we have known.

Granted, some of the changes we are experiencing are bound to be only temporary. But others are likely to persist, forming a new foundation for the way businesses function post-pandemic.

What will that "new normal" look like? Can you prepare your team now for what lies ahead?

Here are five of my top predictions about what the future may hold for marketers and marketing organizations.

1. Business leaders will fully recognize the benefit of a solid digital strategy

In the past, championing digital transformation was often an uphill battle. Everyone recognized its importance, but few were willing to take the necessary steps.

Now, digital is providing a lifeline. Customers around the globe are turning to the brands with the most effective outreach and e-commerce and/or digital-delivery capabilities. As a result, many companies—particularly those that were not far enough along on their digital transformations—are being forced to rapidly re-evaluate their approaches.

I expect changes within sales and marketing organizations to happen quickly as business leaders begin to truly understand the value of digital marketing—and then reprioritize their multichannel, content creation, and personalization strategies.

After all, those are among the key components of a game plan that can help safeguard business from similar market shifts down the road.

2. Marketing plans will come together faster

The crisis over the past few months showed us that customer demands and requirements can change quite literally overnight. That means a six-month marketing plan may not be as valuable as we once thought it was.

Moreover, we have all learned that a new marketing strategy can be created and implemented in weeks, not months. We proved that internal red tape can be removed and lead times can be cut. Why wouldn't we want to continue moving that fast in the future?

With that, I anticipate more marketers will harness AI to further improve efficiencies and enhance personalization.

3. More people will work from home

Many of us are participating in the largest work at home experiment ever conducted—and the longer it continues, the more we are going to learn. How much can companies save in overhead costs if employees work remotely? Will people end up preferring their home offices to long commutes, or will they miss the camaraderie and collaboration of shared workspaces?

The conversations about redefining "employment" have already begun, and employees are proving that they can perform well from home, provided they have the right tools and appropriate support.

At a fundamental level, video conferencing has become invaluable for our teams, not only to keep us on task with work projects but also to help everyone feel less isolated right now.

Thinking ahead, how will your B2B marketing tactics change if more and more of your buyers are working from home?

4. Innovative virtual events

Most big companies have canceled in-person events through the end of 2020, and some even into 2021. Many of those events are being transformed into virtual experiences so that brands can continue to stay in touch with customers and prospects.

That may sound easy enough on paper, but the challenges are significant. Simply offering a webinar is not going to be as effective. Marketers are going to need to get creative so their companies can stand out among the myriad virtual events coming everyone's way.

It's also worthwhile to think about how you can expand participation to those who, in the past, were unable to attend your in-person events.

How does moving to digital only events open up new opportunities for your organization?

5. Marketers will feel emboldened with a new nimbleness

It is not hyperbole to say that marketing teams are navigating across uncharted waters. None of us has ever experienced a business environment like the one we are now facing; and though at times that has been unnerving, it has also been incredibly empowering.

I have been amazed and inspired by how quickly the Sitecore team—like many others—adapted, how much new we are learning along the way, and how better prepared we are now to deal with the unexpected.

As the demand for digital accelerates, we marketers can rely on our newfound knowledge—and courage—to keep us agile and adaptable.

* * *

The pandemic is changing short- and long-term behaviors and expectations for marketing organizations—and their customers.

Our shared humanity and values are in the spotlight right now. As you lead your team through this crisis, keep in mind that people are your greatest assets. When evaluating how they have responded to the crisis, stay constructive. Focus on lessons that can be learned and new strategies that can be implemented now.

It is critical that you ready your team for a future that looks as though it is going to remain challenging for a while.



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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Paige O'Neill

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

LinkedIn: Paige O'Neill

Twitter: @paige_oneill