It’s long been accepted and understood that in the modern era, content really is king in terms of the marketing strategies that you’re developing for your brand. People have long ago lost their appetite for more “traditional” advertising, meaning that they just don’t want to be sold to any longer. Instead, they want to have genuine experiences with the brands they support. They want you to offer them something of value and expect nothing in return, even if both parties know that this “nothing in return” will likely transition into a sale. They want to form genuine relationships with brands in every sense of the term. Content marketing therefore becomes the best way to accomplish all of these important goals, essentially at the exact same time.
Until, of course, COVID-19 made its debut earlier this year.
Since the onset of the global pandemic in March, things have been changing rapidly in just about every industry you can think of. Consumer behaviors have evolved overnight and even the strongest brands are struggling to adapt to this “new normal” that we’re now all a part of. But that doesn’t mean that content marketing reigns supreme – far from it. If anything, it’s only going to get more critical as time goes on and to make sure that it continues to be a big part of your own success, you need to keep a few key things in mind.
Marketing in a COVID-19 World: What You Need to Know
Throughout time, all the best content marketing strategies for growth had one thing in common: they were every bit as educational as they were sales-centric. Yes, you’re trying to pitch your products and services to the widest possible audience. But you’re also trying to show people that you understand their point of view. That you and you alone can solve their problems. That you and you alone have the answers to all of their important questions.
Absolutely none of this has changed since the onset of the pandemic, it’s just that now your approach to marketing is probably going to be steering a bit more in that direction than it had in the past.
First and foremost, you need to focus on educating your audience on what is going on with YOU during the pandemic. More specifically, if you have a brick and mortar location, people don’t necessarily care as much about what hot promotion you’re running this weekend as they do about what you’re doing to keep everyone safe. So it’s up to you to provide easy access to that information by way of sections of your website that outline the safety precautions you’re taking. If you’re open for business but are at limited capacity, or if you now offer curbside or otherwise contactless pickup options, people need to be aware of this so that they can choose whether or not they want to embrace it moving forward.
Along the same lines, your Google My Business page is going to prove invaluable to that end because it allows you to quickly pass along critical information like updated business hours, or any temporary closures that you’re experiencing. Don’t worry – even marking your business as temporarily closed will no longer hurt your other SEO tactics like it would have in the past, as Google has indicated that they understand what difficult times people are going through and they ultimately want to help out in any way that they can.
Likewise, you need to remember that people are being absolutely bombarded with messaging right now – to the point where in some ways it’s even harder to stand out from all the noise than it was prior to the onset of the pandemic. Because of that, for the absolute best results, you’re probably going to want to limit your communications to only critical messaging for the foreseeable future.
So if you’ve unfortunately had to cancel a big event that you had planned due to rapidly changing local restrictions, that would be a good reason to send out an email. If you’re delaying a product launch or if you’re having inventory troubles that might negatively impact some segment of your current customers, that would be a good reason to send out an email. If you’ve got a great idea for a newsletter that has absolutely nothing to do with anything going on in the world right now… probably wait to send that email until things have a chance to stabilize a bit further.
Beyond that, you should still be leaning into all of the normal best practices that you would in earlier, simpler times – you’ll just have to be cautious about what you’re putting out into the world and, more importantly, how that message might be perceived. People really do want to get a sense that brands understand that “we’re all in this together” right now, so a lot of your efforts should be primarily focused towards that lens. You can still use a tool like Visme (which I founded to help people better communicate with one another) to create social media graphics for sites like Facebook and Twitter, but just be careful that people don’t think you’re making light of or not understanding the gravity of a very serious situation that is affecting many, many people around the world.
Now would also be a great time to use sites like Respona to continue to research relevant topics for blog posts, white papers and other long form content – but if there’s some type of organic COVID-19 angle that you can take with any ideas that you find, it would be a shame not to capitalize on it right now considering that it will remain at the top of people’s minds. This is also true of any marketing influencers that you happen to partner with.
Regardless, one of the most essential things to understand about all of this is that the world has changed immeasurably in a short amount of time and regardless of how much we’d all like to return to normal and pretend this whole thing never happened, the chances of that actually happening are slim to none. Therefore, rather than trying to play by the marketing rules of 2019, you need to lean directly into the reality that 2020 has presented us. The brands that are able to do that will see their relationships with customers change, yes – but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing and they may even come out all the better on the other side because of it. The brands that can’t will likely find themselves left behind by their savvier competitors, and that is one situation you do not want to find yourself in.
About the Author
Payman Taei is the founder of Visme, an easy-to-use online tool to create engaging presentations, infographics, and other forms of visual content. He is also the founder of HindSite Interactive, an award-winning Maryland digital agency specializing in website design, user experience and web app development.