Marketing in a COVID World

For the first time in its more than 50 year history, the NAED Adventure Marketing Conference will be a virtual event.

You can thank the Coronavirus pandemic for the change.

In fact, you can point to the pandemic as the reason for a lot of change this year. People who are adapting quickly are finding success, and marketing departments are stepping up to be more creative than ever before.

NAED’s upcoming 2020 Adventure Workshop will be a one-day event that features internationally-known keynote speaker David Arvin, who will begin by offering the question, “Your customers are changing. Are you?” That will be followed by a deep-dig into what customers’ needs, fears, likes and dislikes are when it comes to working with you.

tED magazine’s publisher, Scott Costa, recently interviewed Toni Sacrison, past NAED Adventure Committee chair and Marketing Specialist at Viking Electric about what the virtual marketing event is about this year, and why its focus is on your customers.

What are some of the new challenges when it comes to marketing?
“Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, is digital now. We’re having to be really creative about how we go to market, support our sales teams, continue to drive sales, and keep the Viking Electric brand front and center with our customer without driving them away with too much info.”

Have any old challenges disappeared?
“Sort of. One of our ongoing challenges has always been creating marketing that our sales teams can engage with and get excited about. Now, they’re realizing that we have quite an arsenal of tools that can help them; especially when they can’t get directly in front of their customers.”

Did your old challenges grow larger?
“In some instances, I suppose so. Our marketing team has been in ‘adapt and change FAST’ mode since March and we continue to face whatever challenges come our way as creatively as possible.”

We are living in a new world when it comes to selling products. Your sales teams are using new techniques, communication tools, virtual events, and job responsibilities. What are you doing to help the salespeople?
“As I indicated, digital is everything right now. We are hyper-focused on maximizing our digital tools so that the sales team can reap the rewards. We’re still trying to give them what they have always had, but we’re really doing everything we can to make doing business with us easy. We’re ALL hosting and participating in a lot more virtual meetings these days, but I think we’re also connecting with our sales teams more now than we ever did. They’re actively seeking out an assist from Marketing and we’re happy to provide it.”

Has that changed at all?
“Sure. We used to have a much more cautious approach to how much digital advertising we did, but in the past year we’ve re-evaluated and ramped up our efforts, and it has paid off.”

Do you see those changes as temporary or permanent, and do you think the role of marketing will have to evolve as faster than any other role because someone has to stay ahead of the curve?
“I believe digital enterprise and digital marketing are growing at an incredibly rapid pace in our industry and it’s not going anywhere because it has an incredible potential to make life easier for our customers. That’s the whole point. Make it easy for them to do business with us, show them how they can maximize the time they have and then deliver on our promises. Marketing is definitely changing, but it has to. Marketing by its very nature has to evolve to stay relevant. The way consumers and customers purchase today is vastly different from how they did even five or ten years ago, and with all of the restrictions in place for where you can go, what you can do and where you get the products you need, it’s changing again. In the last 5-1/2 months since I’ve been working from home, I can tell you with certainty that I’ve ordered more products online or through email marketing than I ever have. Amazon LOVES me. Why go out and risk getting sick when I can order on Amazon, or get my dinner delivered with GrubHub? I believe that’s how many people feel and how a lot of our customers are approaching things as well. Our hope as marketers is that the tools we’re offering ( curbside pickup, mobile ordering and signing on their phones, electronic order entry to name a few), are rapidly becoming their new favorite, preferred way to shop with us.”

NAED and the committee are trying to help marketing departments find their way through this jungle of pandemic lunacy. What will be some of the takeaways that attendees of the virtual event will have?
“My hope for any meeting or seminar that I attend (or help plan) is that we answer the questions that are most pressing for the attendees. What they will take away from the October meeting is really hard to predict. I think it depends on what each individual is going in looking for. If I’ve learned anything over the years of attending Adventure, it’s that the challenges that I face in my position are never the same as everyone else. There are similarities for sure, but usually I have one or two things that really challenge me at the time and I go looking for the answers to those. Of course we always want to choose topics that are relevant and engaging for the majority, so hopefully what we are planning for this year will ring a few bells with the majority of attendees.

Give us your “inside the meeting room pitch” to attend this virtual event. You sat in on the planning, so what were some of the discussions that led the committee to this point in hiring a speaker for this topic? How would you write a few sentences if the question was “why should I attend this event?”
“I can say with certainty that David Avrin is fantastic. He understands our industry and he definitely does his homework. I was on the committee when we hired him to speak last time, and his approach is both relevant and inspiring. I can’t wait to see what he has to say about the rapidly changing marketplace amid COVID-19. Anyone who’s seen him present will tell you the same thing. I am super excited to hear him speak again. I know I am not alone in feeling a bit weary of the virtual environment and feeling disconnected yet busier than ever. I have a feeling David will leave all of us energized and renewed. I’d say that’s exactly what we need right now.”

Plan to attend the 2020 NAED Adventure Workshop. For more information and to register, click here.

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