Marketing as we emerge from COVID: A No-Coffee Catch-Up with McCorkell

Marketing as we emerge from COVID:A No-Coffee Catch-Up with McCorkell

McCorkell catches up with Gabrielle Cichero, Cloudera’s APAC Head of Marketing for a chat about what’s new in marketing as we emerge from COVID lockdowns. New skills mixed with old knowledge are shaping our new and surprising ways of working.

There’s a feeling of relief spreading across marketing and marketers in general after nearly nine months of COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns. Companies and professionals have done it tough, but Australia is slowly emerging from the worst of the global pandemic into a new market and new demands.

But how do we regain momentum in marketing after so long in limbo? Well, according to Gabrielle Cichero, APAC Head of Marketing at Cloudera, it’s about changing perspective.

“You know, we’ve gotten through this. My marketing team is still in place and there’s a sense of relief that despite the many challenges that we’ve seen, we’re here. We’ve also learnt a lot of new skills.”

New skills are one of the silver-linings to come out of the pandemic. Different dynamics, new tasks, and the remote work realities of working from home meant Gabrielle’s team, like many of us, had to adapt to survive.

“As marketers, I think we rely on muscle memory. We know how to do our job. But the way you used to do it doesn’t work anymore, it has completely changed. We had to go figure it out again and add a new muscle memory. And that’s exciting!”

It’s also harder. Especially in your home environment where it’s an effort to find the energy to get excited about doing new things without the boost usually provided by your team environment. Knowing how important it was to find that virtual energy was key to helping Gabrielle’s team become more effective faster.

Gabrielle Cichero ,
APAC Head of Marketing at

“Our team in China went through COVID-19 first and then India went into lockdown. So when it came to our lockdown, I had a greater awareness of what was in store for my local team and we could be more prepared. We started thinking about how we could make things work when it was our turn.”

Finding ways to deliver impact

Even amidst the pandemic, marketing activities have continued across multiple industries, leading to a massive acceleration in digital engagement channels. As businesses have adjusted to changing demands, the transferral of physical event activities into online experiences has taken centre stage. But with this quick channel transition came new challenges and learnings.

“We discovered for a virtual campaign to work really well, it’s super important to have the right partner,” someone capable of facilitating a virtual experience as opposed to a face-to-face activity, which requires a special kind of expertise.

“An expert facilitator makes all the difference, someone who’s figuring out who’s not engaged and bringing them in in a non-threatening way and trying to find interesting angles as well.” Applying their marketing prowess to the new challenges at hand, Gabrielle’s team ripped open the box and tried something new. “In one event, we did a virtual whiskey tasting and had a cartoonist keeping people engaged watching his drawing as they were tasting. It was simple and it worked.”

New Channels, New Challenges or Opportunities?

Thinking on your feet is part of being a marketer, especially now given the rapid changes in direction and adaptation of skills to overcome these new challenges. Gabrielle suggests asking your teams questions like: how do we make things work in this new normal? How can we continue to contribute to the business, drive new business and create awareness, even though the channels may have changed? With each of the answers, they challenged themselves to bring it into reality – a daunting task if you’re taking a big trade show for example into a virtual environment.

“The pickup of a trade show into a virtual experience is very different. Normally there’s lots of exhibitors and streams. But that doesn’t work in virtual because it’s too chaotic. People are confused and they just turn off. When we go virtual, we’ve learned it’s about clarity and simplicity.”

And, she added, it’s also about smaller audiences to deliver more impact and ensure that the attendees are able to be interactive and effectively engaged. Sometimes this involves adopting new channels, new platforms and new formats.

The emergence of these new mediums for marketers to explore don’t require us to throw out our old skills in favour of the new: when it gets down to it, impactful marketing is still about simplicity and clarity. Especially in a crowded digital market.

The Transformation of Content and Messaging

“Mark Twain said it best when he wrote, “I would have written you a short letter, but I didn’t have time.”In this new COVID Normal world, the importance of being brief, to the point is critical as customers/audiences want quick, easy to consume content. Gabrielle confirmed their new approach is paying off.“Some of our high performing content at Cloudera has been more brief and more direct and also more narrow focussed. It’s about reducing fluff, and being specific.”

Does this apply to their Go To Market (GTM) strategies as well? Yes, she says.“GTMs are in constant motion, so looking at new paths to market and channel options, better messaging and new audiences considerations and your campaign performance is key.”

At Cloudera, Gabrielle considers their GTM as a moving, growing, evolving approach.“In marketing, being flexible and ready to learn new ways of doing and thinking is a very important part of what we do and now we can use these new skills to our advantage to improve how we move forward.”

Final thoughts

COVID has been an accelerator for many technologies and developments, but in the end, it’s the tried and true marketing skill sets that have enabled marketers to adapt and ride out the disruption.

Marketing is a discipline that is inherently malleable, adaptive and evolving, but as Gabrielle and her team found when having to transfer their skills and thinking into the online formats, it’s still about delivering great content.

Have some questions you would like answered or want to participate in our ongoing no coffee catch up series? Email –