August 20, 2020 - Pam O'Connor, Senior Director of Marketing
When midnight strikes on December 31, this typically early-to-bed gal will happily toast the end of a year that will forever bear the stain of a global pandemic. With massive socio-economic upheaval, a public health crisis, and a peculiar ‘dementia Americana,’ those of us who market into healthcare were hit with how to best serve clinicians battling COVID on the front lines while still helping sales teams hit their targets.
Like most B-to-B marketing orgs, a slice of our pie consisted of tradeshows and special events. You don’t need me to tell you that any large international or regional event with attendees across geographies is a bad idea during a pandemic. As they ground to a halt, we had to quickly pivot and reinvent the rest of 2020 to continue to generate leads and ROI. After all, at these events we launch products, conduct media interviews, produce videos and social media content, meet customers, and forge partnerships. That’s a lot to replace.
But virtualize we did! First came HIMSS. Cancelled literally while our booth was in crates at the Orange County Convention Center, we’d worked for months to secure nearly 80 pre-set customer and partner meetings which make us traditionally one of the busiest at the show. Quickly the marketing and product management teams salvaged a percentage into virtual live demos. And while these early attempts felt held together with digital duct tape, even completing them felt like a win given COVID travel constraints and the massive distraction of the pandemic.
Sales trainings, once held quarterly at our regional HQ, were reinvented as online, interactive classes. We’ve gamified them to boost attentiveness, including virtual trivia games and happy hours. And while it’s too early to call our July Senior Living virtual event an unqualified success, it generated excellent attendance and some solid sales leads and the team is already planning a similar event for this fall.
So here, in no particular order of importance, are my Top 5 pandemic marketing take-aways.
Pam is a past recipient of the Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 Award recognizing innovative business practice in North Carolina. She earned her Master of Science from the London School of Economics and her BA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She also served on the board of the Wake County Autism Society and the Grants Panel for the City of Raleigh Arts Commission. Other favorite volunteer experiences include with Greyhound Rescue of North Carolina and PlayMakers Repertory Company, the state’s oldest professional theatre company.
Senior Director of Marketing