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Confessions of a (product) marketer in the time of COVID-19

Product Marketing | Articles

I haven’t read “Love in the Time of Cholera” but I wanted to use a part of that title for this post — like most of us have been doing. I think it’s quite safe to assume that no other book title has been modified to fit the current situation like this one.

Changes are constant. And I’m quite certain that your marketing plan (and mine) for the year is taking a complete 180. Most events and tradeshows we invested in the year are either canceled, postponed or converted into virtual events. Virtual events existed all along but now we’re holding on to it for dear life because it’s the only option we have for some mode of interaction. Digital spending is an option and any press release that’s not super crucial at this point will be drowned too. I know we’re also apologetic for the emails we have to send out saying “We hope you’re staying safe but here’s my article” because we know we should be empathetic than tell our audience about our article from the get-go. But emails are our best friend and we will hold on to that too.

For us marketers, the show must go on and things should keep happening. Working from home doesn’t give people extra time we assume it does so we’re still fighting for their attention. We’re not Shakespeare or Isaac Newton to discover physics laws or create art (or will we?) during this situation, but we know darn well that we will try.

But it is time to make a true impact. To able to listen and understand our customers while adapting. We have been presented with an opportunity in really unfortunate circumstances to change our ways and how we do things to be better marketers. To think twice before we send that email or press publish on the blog post.

Here are some ways we’re navigating during this time.

  • First, we reached out to our audience to see how they’re doing and see how we can help. We’re in the business of identity and access management, so we want to see how companies can use our product, which is a fully open-source product for secure access, especially with things like working from home and user experience. Slack has been great at this point so for all our activities, we’ve created slack channels for more interaction — this way we have more lines of communication. Any physical engagement we provide, we try our best to accommodate it online.
  • We are maximizing our efforts surrounding knowledge sharing. For us, it’s the community above all else so we want to support our customers, partners, and prospects during these times. So we started hosting online meetups. No selling of the product, but just sharing concepts and the challenges in the domain (in my case, Identity and access management). We’re aiming different time zones so we can just join in and learn about concepts related to IAM.
  • We will most probably keep virtual events as a part of our strategy anyway. Webinars have been a part of this mix but we’re also looking at mixing things up and rebranding them as “digital forums”, “online panels” “virtual/online summits” etc.
  • Free courses are great and I think we should all make use of it. I signed up for a few myself. From a product perspective, we’re also repromoting our self-paced training so it gives time for developers to learn the product or a reason to try it out. It’s all open source!
  • I’m taking the time to look back at all the content we published to measure its relevance. The ones that gave a “spike of hope” to the “flatline of nope” — Rand Fishkin (Moz). This includes every article, product feature or white paper we published some time ago. For me, it’s the opportunity to resurrect it, repromote, double-check if the proper landing pages are linked and is optimized for SEO. We’re trying things like microblogging on twitter (THREADS!) linking older articles for more visibility. And exploring other formats of content like podcasts. It’s also a good time to second guess the piece you’re writing to see if it’s worth someone else’s time.
  • We’re also looking at options likes launching guest blogging programs to build a community, this might be a good time to consider that. Because it’s a great way to help build someone’s brand too.

I’d love to know how you’re managing product marketing or even general marketing at this point so let me know. While trying our best to fit into this new routine, we have an opportunity to do meaningful work. Supporting our customers, supporting our teams and community, that’s the best we can do right now.

I’m also happy to share that our dev team released a new version of our product a couple of weeks ago with passwordless authentication last week. This also helps our customers and prospects implement secure access to apps which is essential at a time like this. Check on your teams, check on each other. Stay at home and wash your hands.

Written by:

Ishara Naotunna

Ishara Naotunna

Product marketing and public speaking enthusiast, Bibliophile and occasional headbanger. Dogs are better than everyone.

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Confessions of a (product) marketer in the time of COVID-19