2020 Retrospective: How our digital reality brought us closer together

2020 was a year that presented challenges for people and businesses alike. When the COVID-19 pandemic first required individuals and teams to stay or work from home, it was difficult to imagine how things would evolve or how long it would last. Eight months later, in spite of significant challenges, I’m thankful to reflect upon the silver linings that have come as a result of unprecedented changes to our daily lives.  

As an organization, the positivity and resilience of our employees have consistently served as bright spots. Entering 2020, our marketing team was poised to execute on plans, budget, and focus areas that we’d worked together to create. When reality tossed those plans out the window, we had to adjust our messaging, spend, and focus. The ability to adapt became front and center for our team. 

The best marketing organizations are agile

When we transitioned to a fully-digital work experience, we were fortunate to be able to lean on our experiences as a globally distributed team. Members of our marketing organization already had experience working in offices or remote offices from cities across the United States, Europe, and Australia. So, as we found ourselves immersed in a fully-digital world, we were prepared to take advantage of our familiarity with collaboration tools like messaging, web conferencing, shared workspaces, and other SaaS applications. 

Our own digital maturity gave us the space to become more creative in how we engaged, both internally and with our customers. It also helped us to empathize with our customers, who were on their own journeys toward digital maturity. Appreciating that our customers, partners, and prospects were at different stages helped us to personalize our outreach to address their unique needs and experiences. This new shared reality brought us into one another’s homes and, in effect, our interactions became more human, albeit physically distant. 

Personalized, human relationships are still critical in the new digital reality

As an organization that delivers a storytelling platform which enables sellers to have more personalized, targeted, and relevant conversations, we find it more important than ever to create experiences that are memorable.

The nature of the past year has reinforced those values. Internally, the partnership between sales and marketing, in support of the customer, has evolved to become more empathetic to our customers’ needs. Today, our approach to reaching customers embraces their unique experiences and recognizes that without in-person events, we have to work harder to engage them. 

This dynamic rings true for businesses around the world. Our customers—like us—are looking for opportunities to connect with their customers in relevant ways. When people are fatigued from video conferences or interacting with digital content, marketing organizations have a responsibility to create content that is resonant and meaningful. 

For us, that’s where adaptability became critical. Through content designed to help customers navigate the evolving business environment, we offered specific examples and guidance that was informative and educational. Our quarterly launches began to incorporate specific guidance to customers on how to leverage the Seismic platform to enable their field teams with the latest messaging or engage with customers more effectively during periods of rapid change. 

Understanding how and when to adapt the message

Planning is the cornerstone of successful marketing organizations. 2020, however, made rapid re-planning and adapting a requirement. From the pandemic to moments of social unrest, our message needed to evolve to meet the moment and the humanity of the audience that engages with our content. Our prospective customers, much like our own internal teams, are humans who face myriad challenges of their own, both with work and at home. So, delivering personalized content to them through the right channel requires us to be in touch with the macro environment and various dynamics, rather than simply pushing forward with a campaign.

Physical distance; closer relationships 

The past year has been challenging for individuals, families, friends, and colleagues. In spite of these challenges, there have been valuable lessons regarding our shared human experience and the ways in which we interact with one another. Since working from home, we may feel less connected to the team and our customers, but in many ways, we’ve learned to grow more connected. I’ve been fortunate to see people more frequently, in their own environments. I’ve met their dogs, cats, kids, and spouses—and, as a result, I feel much closer to the team. We’ve onboarded new team members who I’ve never met in person, yet I feel I know them well, because we interact on a regular basis. So, the speed at which we can get to know people is much faster than in a purely physical world.

As we look toward the new year, I look forward to building upon the lessons learned in 2020. Being agile, adaptable, and attuned to the individual needs of our customers enables us to build trust and build stronger relationships, whether online or in-person.