Five Questions with Matt Heinz: Marketing During (and After) a Pandemic

April 8th, 2020

It’s been a challenging few weeks for us marketers. Last week, we took stock of those challenges in a webinar with Matt Heinz, Founder, and President of Heinz Marketing. Matt’s an expert with his finger on the pulse of B2B marketing, so we wanted his take on the data our team has been tracking around the impact of COVID-19.

TrustRadius CEO Vinay Bhagat and Matt shared their thoughts on the impact of the pandemic, and walked through a set of data that we’ve collected on trends and spend in the current environment. You can view the webinar and hear their analysis here.

Just like with a live event, though, some of the biggest insights came out of the questions they answered for the inquisitive audience. We’ve captured those questions, and Matt’s answers, here.

What are some of the most strategic investments in software and marketing spend at this time?

The answer will be unique depending on the company, but a couple of things stand out.

  1. Your customer community is critical right now. Whatever you can do to get that community together, to deliver more value to that community, is important. I see a lot of CMOs finally pivoting to spend more time and energy on customer marketing right now, so the tools that can help you support that will be really important.
  2. Similarly, your ability to maintain a community and productivity with your sales and marketing teams is really important. When you’ve got an SDR team working remotely, you can give them tools like Outreach and Salesloft and that’s fine. But you’ve just lost the energy of the sales floor. So what are you going to do to do sales standup, to maintain that connection without cutting into their productivity?
  3. I’m also seeing a lot of companies use this period to invest in non-lead systems. We talked about intent data, that’s an important one. Sales engagement, that’s an important one too. Anything around account engagement to orchestrate how well you’re talking to accounts is an area to focus on. These are things most companies have needed to focus on for a while, but they’ve been busy with the tradeshow schedule and spending their budget and driving leads. Now’s a great time to improve the efficacy of the actual pipeline programs internally, not only to increase conversion and engagement now, but to have that in place for when you hit the gas again, to increase yield from all those new leads you’re going to drive down the road.

We’ve heard a lot about the idea that sales and marketing teams should pause, or be empathetic to prospects. What are your thoughts on that – what does that look like?

First, it’s just addressing the elephant in the room. Simply asking people “how are you doing, how are you working through this, do you have kids, what’s your home situation, do you have any advice for me” isn’t enough.

You can then pivot and, instead of asking people what’s keeping them up at night, you can say “we’re hearing two or three things that CMOs are worried about”, and then list off those three things and ask “Did one of those things resonate, or maybe one didn’t, but now that you’ve heard it, do you want to know why?” It’s about being empathetic and offering contextual advice for this moment.

Sometimes you’ll uncover a need but, in most cases right now, it’s about offering value, being generous, giving people something without asking for something in return.

What are your thoughts on restarting content campaigns and marketing automation?

I have noticed that “business as usual content” is being well received. One CMO A/B tested subject lines – one around the Coronavirus pandemic, and one strictly business as usual. The business as usual line outperformed the other one. I think it’s important to be empathetic and to address the moment. But if you’ve got a really strong message, if you’ve figured out how to be an essential service, that message can still land successfully.

I would strongly recommend that companies go through and do an inventory of their active drip campaigns in their marketing automation. Most of that content is probably fine. But if you have a message that says “So, how are your goals for 2020 going”, that’s going to sound tone-deaf. So do the sniff test, the common sense test, on some of that content. If you haven’t done that, do it today. There’s no reason you can’t audit and restart those campaigns today.

For virtual events, how do you decrease drop-off rates? I’m not talking about making things more interesting.

Interactivity and in-event engagement are key. If you ask companies that do virtual sales training, they’ll tell you that the attendee needs something to do every 4-5 minutes. This can be as simple as asking them to write down a word that reminds them of XX or to think about someone who had an impact on them about YY. Another important tactic pulled from great storytellers is to ensure there are still unanswered questions through to the end. In general, your audience will stop paying attention to you if they no longer have questions. But if they’re engaged and want to know the answer to something, they’ll stick around. You can use this to your advantage.

Is it the right time to start investing in a new CRM system like Hubspot for a digital marketing agency?

Many companies across a variety of industries are using this moment to invest in key systems that will increase their productivity now and into the future. This includes CRM systems, lead management tools, prospect intent systems, even more manual processes and playbooks that increase consistency and predictability in effort and outcome between marketing and sales teams.

Get your company’s True Intent data, FREE!

Matt talked about the importance of intent data and we agree! We’re offering free bottom-funnel intent data to help build your pipeline. True Intent is a list of companies that have recently read reviews of your products or other products in your category. People who read reviews are planning to buy something. Click here to get your free True Intent data.

Want to learn more about marketing effectively in the “New Normal”?

We’re hosting another masterclass on Thursday, April 16th @ 12:30PM with award-winning CMO, Thomas Been from Druva. He’ll be providing actionable tips on what you can do NOW to adapt your marketing strategy. Register here.

It was a pleasure getting Matt’s take on how marketers should respond in the current environment. You can view the full conversation here: