Raise your hand if you’re tired of seeing the word “unprecedented” in brand communications. Just as I thought. Lots of hands raised. Like so many other businesses (maybe yours too?), here at ClickDimensions, we have used this word a time or two in various communications to our audience when describing the current state of the world in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. But who can blame us really for the overuse of such a word that describes 2020 so far so perfectly?
With a world that vastly differs today from the one we knew in the early months of the year, marketing is anything but business as usual. Marketers have had to press pause on some efforts while ramping up others. In short, everything is different and constantly changing. This includes your content marketing efforts. The content you created and relied upon in January may not work today. It may be tone deaf to the current state of the world or provide outdated advice. As you create and distribute content in these challenging and uncertain times, keep these five tips in mind:
1. Be more intentional. You likely spend a great deal of time planning your content marketing initiatives already, but now is the time to really ramp up that planning process. First, determine how your goals will change. For example, if your content goals typically skew heavily towards lead generation, consider how the current economic downturn might impact purchasing. You might instead consider leaning into content that is aimed at customer retention. Or if your company has pivoted to offer a product or service that meets the current needs of consumers – think distilleries making hand sanitizer or clothing companies making face masks – brand awareness content might be in order. The key is to be more intentional in your planning rather than assuming that the status quo will still work in the current COVID-19 climate.
2. Determine what will be most impactful. Your content marketing should always address your audience’s needs and pain points and offer solutions to the challenges they face. In uncertain times, that becomes more critical than ever. Empathy is important here, as is audience understanding. What will add value in the current state of the world? How can you best meet the needs of your audiences and customers? Ask yourself how you would want to be communicated with during this time. Take note of brands – across industries – that you think are really excelling in their content at this time and think about what resonates with you about that content. Is it the tone, the topic, a certain format or another quality? Then consider how you can translate that into content that will make a positive difference for your audience.
3. Be human. The COVID-19 pandemic is a human crisis that we are all going through together. Even if your content doesn’t cover topics directly related to the pandemic or the economic or social impacts, it’s still important to emphasize your brand’s human side. While lockdowns are lifting in some parts of the world, social distancing will be a way of life for the foreseeable future. People are craving human interaction and your content can help deliver in a few different ways. One way is the format. Webinars, with how they bring people together, might be more impactful than white papers. Videos and podcasts can also convey a sense of human connection. Another way to be human in your content is by simply modifying your tone to be more direct and approachable.
4. Prepare to adapt. In 2020, marketers are finding that it isn’t a question of if they will have to pivot their plans but when. Make your content marketing plans accordingly and be prepared to adapt. With so much uncertainty surrounding current events, the content that is needed and helpful today can be useless or tone-deaf tomorrow. To help avoid wasting time and effort in the planning process, try planning for shorter periods of time. If you typically plan your content a quarter at a time, for example, try increasing the frequency to monthly for the time being. Also be sure to monitor the news and search terms more regularly to get a sense of what your industry and your audience are concerned about at present, so your content can keep up with current trends and interests.
5. Go back to your content marketing roots. According to a special COVID-19 special report conducted by Edelman, 85 percent of people surveyed want brands to use their power to educate. Remember why content marketing rose to prominence in the first place. It was for its ability to educate, inform and engage rather than just sell. Be sure that you are laser focused on this mission and purpose at this time. Build goodwill to build an engaged audience.