Andrew Hally is the CMO of digital asset management platform Bynder. We recently caught up with Andrew to find out how Covid-19 has impacted his daily working life, and what he predicts the future for his industry might look like.
Please describe your job: What do you do?
I run the marketing function for Bynder, a global leader in digital asset management (DAM). The DAM market and broader martech landscape doesn’t sit still. It’s hot on the heels of technical innovation, fiercely competitive and, at times, demanding, as many brands and marketing professionals rely on it daily. Some may say that it makes my role as a marketer more challenging – which isn’t untrue. But it also makes it incredibly exciting.
My primary goal is to articulate Bynder’s vision, values, and differentiation to the market. A big part of meeting this goal is aligning Bynder’s marketing activities and plans with other departments including sales, development, and customer success. Together, we generate demand and secure business in a predictable, yet data-driven, way. It’s truly a global team effort.
How has your typical day been impacted in the short term by the pandemic?
Bynder is spread across nine time zones and six main offices, so most of our interactions even before the pandemic were already virtual. However, I miss working in-person with other Byndies (what we fondly refer to ourselves as) in the Boston office where I’m based. Across the company, we use Zoom, Google, and Slack extensively. But the absence of face-to-face conversations – and my trips to Europe every six weeks or so – has shed a light on the importance of getting together physically.
Shifting priorities buffet every marketer I know, which inevitably affects how we operate day-to-day. As the pandemic really took hold, we switched to a more agile approach in order to pivot our messaging and marketing activities to our buyers’ new priorities. With the help of our sales, CS and onboarding teams, we closely observed how our customers were reacting, listened to their needs, and reworked our marketing to focus on the shift to remote working. It has been a key priority for us to support our customers as they pivoted their marketing to get more done with less – a dominant concern that appeared almost overnight with budgets and headcounts cut.
What are your favourite tools and techniques to help you get your work done at the moment?
Nothing fancy! Zoom, Google Meet and Slack have been essential in keeping our global team connected, while Google Docs, Sheets and Slides have ensured we’re remaining efficient and consistent. And of course, our Bynder platform plays a big part in that. We know where our marketing assets are stored, which version is the latest and where we can use it. In the remote world we’ve found ourselves in, peace of mind when creating, finding and using branded content and marketing collateral is the holy grail.
Which companies have impressed you during the pandemic?
The ones who are killing it are those who have been lucky to be in the position they’re in. The likes of Zoom and Slack come to mind, where they’ve really been able to capitalise on the unique challenges the pandemic has presented, such as remote working. As a marketer in the technology field, it’s reassuring and inspiring to see how they’ve taken the reins and ridden with the dramatic rise in users and usage, as they could’ve so easily fallen flat.
What changes are you making to help your company connect with how people are feeling and experiencing the pandemic?
Internally, we’re holding town hall video meetings twice a week and surveying employees every two weeks to keep a pulse on how everyone’s doing. Then externally, we huddle up with our Customer Success Managers to understand how our customers are feeling and what they’re focused on.
By doing so, we’ve learnt that our customers are focusing on three things: maintaining productivity during the switch to remote work, pivoting marketing and messaging strategies in response to COVID-19, and figuring out how to get their work done with reduced budgets and/or workforces. We’ve executed two-week sprints to get materials and messaging for each one of these into the market as quickly as possible.
Since marketers across numerous industries were grappling for insights, we updated our yearly survey to better understand how organisations were dealing with the radical changes brought about by COVID-19. Our State of Branding Report: COVID-19 Edition report found that many brands adopted similar message-focused approaches with one in two brand professionals reporting the development of new messaging, content and campaigns in response to COVID-19 as their highest branding-related priority.
What trends have you seen in the last few weeks in your sector?
Being a SaaS business, the majority of our revenue comes in via monthly subscriptions on multi-year contracts. But overall, business activity continues to strengthen. Even at the lowest point, the purchase of DAM slowed but didn’t stop. In July, our top-of-funnel activity level grew for the fourth month straight and was stronger than it had been in January and February, pre-COVID.
We’re in a beneficial position in that DAM is a required infrastructure for brands of any reasonable size. They need to get their digital assets on their websites, social channels and ad platforms – and quickly deliver it to their sales teams and partners. Unexpectedly for some, it turns out that organisations in troubled sectors, such as travel, invested in DAM during the pandemic to get a tighter grip of their content. Where a successful crisis communications strategy and timing is paramount, the added component of a DAM solution brings greater efficiency as budgets and headcount shrink.
In addition to DAM, cloud usage has accelerated. When offices emptied in March, business infrastructures which run in the cloud are coming out on top, whereas those with applications still being run by IT in office data centres have been most problematic. As a result, I expect that cloud adoption will only grow from now on.
What advice would you give a marketer right now?
The creativity and resilience displayed by marketers when faced with the difficulties of COVID-19 illustrates why so many brands were able to smoothly transition to the radically different work environment. With launches delayed, events cancelled, and normal ways of working changed virtually overnight, the professionalism, thoughtfulness and empathy we saw on display throughout the pandemic makes me proud to be part of the marketing community.
Even though many marketers have needed to pivot their messaging and campaigns, the pandemic hasn’t changed the fundamentals of marketing beyond the obvious impact on in-person events. So, my advice would be to focus on the bigger picture trends, such as the need to balance your performance marketing and data chops with creative, emotive storytelling and brand building. Use this time to look for new ways to engage consumers, rather than getting wrapped up in drilling down into highly segmented data. Creative ideas can appear at the strangest of times – even in a global crisis…
What does long term planning and strategy look like now at your company?
The pandemic’s ‘business-as-unusual’ circumstances have undoubtedly changed 2020 plans; however, marketing has quickly adapted to the ‘new normal’.
Long-term, it’s important for us to keep our employees healthy and engaged, while managing cash flow carefully to make sure Bynder stays prosperous through economic uncertainty. We’re continuing to direct our focus towards helping marketing teams build successful brands by automating, streamlining, and connecting creative asset creation and usage.
Strengthening our partnerships and technology ecosystem to work seamlessly with other teams and technologies marketers rely on has a large role to play in this. It’s a matter of keeping the wheels in motion and remaining in close dialogue with our stakeholders.