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By: DemandLab on June 15th, 2020

Optimizing Marketing in 2020: It’s All About Possibilities, Not Restraints

Remember way back in high school when you learned about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? It struck me recently that the pandemic has challenged many of us at even the most basic levels—such as our ability to safely acquire things we took for granted before like food, shelter, and plentiful toilet paper(!).

Likewise, circumstances surrounding the pandemic have brought many businesses to their knees the past few months, requiring leadership to reconsider everything from strategy to brand to customer experience in the new reality. The sales and marketing programs that drove revenue in the past may no longer be feasible or appropriate at this time. So what can businesses do to continue to engage with buyers and drive revenue for the business?

Maslow’s friend, management guru Warren Bennis, believed the quality underlying all of Maslow’s thinking was his striking optimism about human nature and society, “All of his psychology really had to do with possibility, not restraints. His metaphysics were all about the possibilities of change, the possibilities of the human being to really fit into the democratic mode.”

DemandLab has designed a “Marketing Hierarchy of Needs” that is analogous to Maslow’s, and we encourage marketers to kickstart the second half of 2020 by reviewing and optimizing foundational functions and then evaluating and tweaking each critical function until growth is achieved once again. As with human nature, business is all about the possibilities, not the restraints.

DemandLab has designed a “Marketing Hierarchy of Needs”


At the foundation of any modern marketing organization is your technology and data. These systems will become more critical than ever during a downturn as your data and analytics will drive critical business decisions and enable marketing leaders and CFOs to decide where to invest precious budget dollars.

Conducting a martech stack audit will be a worthwhile investment in 2020 in order to unearth redundancies or underutilized tools and ensure that your tech is optimized to support marketing and sales.


When it comes to operations, use this time to reimagine what you can do with what you have. Find ways to create even more efficiencies by using automation and orchestration. As communication and engagement become increasingly virtual, customer journey and scoring programs will be key to measuring and reporting on new and existing digital touchpoints.

Think about how your team should your team be structured now. How can you optimize your talent, and perhaps, where do you need to provide some training or add skills?

Creative and Brand

All of your customer-facing material needs to be reviewed and tweaked to ensure that tone and content are sensitive to buyers’ new reality, which may include travel bans, remote work, and caring for family members.

Consider how you can use your brand equity this year to serve as a multiplier on your efforts. If you’ve already been focused on brand and related customer experience activities then you should be well positioned to leverage that value right now.

Sales Enablement

Right now, because of a transitioning marketplace, it’s critical for marketing to focus on supporting sales near and long term. Stack-rank each of the initiatives within your core value drivers to identify what can be viably cut and what must remain to meet goals, sustain business, and prepare for the recovery.

Within sales, farming is likely to be a high priority right now to ensure that customers continue to use the products they have. This could be even more important right now than finding net-new logos. Customer journeys may not return to normal for a while and will be very vertical-specific.

Question everything: does sales need different collateral? Are there new objections or roadblocks that need to be addressed? Is now the time to implement an ABM pilot? Get creative in how to best support sales when each day could bring a new challenge and they are learning mid flight.

Listen and Prepare for the Restart

Keep informed by consuming the plethora of information available on the situation, the market, your industry, and your region. Focus on the updates that are critical to your business’s recovery and renewal in the future. And keep an eye out for early signs of business growth, including inside sales contact rates or MQL touchpoints increasing.

Consider: what do the surveys of consumer confidence tell you? Are you taking advantage of social listening tools to keep your finger on the pulse of your customers and prospects? What are your customers experiencing right now? (And actually talk with a customer, not just your customer advisory board.)

A Return to Growth

The only constant is change, and as we know that the seasons will come to pass, we also know that the pandemic and the economic impacts will pass. But we can’t predict the date, and while there may be a lot of mathematicians, economists, and scientists out there making predictions, no one has definitive answers.

What we do know is that we will eventually come out of this, and marketers need to be ready to take action that will build on what they have established during this time to enable growth and expansion.

For deeper insights into marketing optimization in uncertain times and specific tools and best practices, watch this webinar on-demand.