Content Marketing During COVID-19: 6 Practical Questions to Ask.
While putting people first is critical during these strange times, companies must continue to plan for long-term financial viability.
Which companies will maintain their positions or emerge as leaders on the other side of this crisis? There are so many variables, from the industry and size of the business to the geographic region in which it operates.
Slamming on the brakes with your marketing or content development is an all-too-common reaction in an economic downturn, but we caution you—don’t do it!
It could leave you in a less competitive position. Experience tells us those B2B brands that stay the course with marketing during an economic downturn do better than those that don’t.
To maximize your virtual presence, now more than ever, B2B brands need to rely on strategic communications and the consistency of distributing digital content.
What follows are 3 of the many reasons to stay the course with your content marketing, along with 6 very practical questions to consider before you make any additional changes.
3 reasons to continue with content marketing during COVID-19.
Reason 1 – Content Marketing Takes a Long-Term Strategy
Content marketing is intended to be used as a long-term strategy. It isn’t expected to demonstrate ROI right away. The different types of content produced support customers across their buying journey as they plan for what’s next—and that still holds true today, when many people are researching and planning for the brighter days ahead. In fact, internet searches have increased by over 50% during this time of quarantine.
Reason 2 – Maintain Top-of-Mind Presence
Experience tells us that those brands that continue to invest in marketing communication during economic downturns find themselves on a stronger trajectory on the other side of the crisis. Consistency in communications matters. Plus, people are online more than ever now.
Developing content—whether it is a virtual webinar, a panel discussion or a white paper—signals you’re taking the time to educate and inspire others, which is still highly relevant today. Be mindful about the content, and certainly avoid aggressive selling, but do continue with content marketing that provides relevant information as people and businesses continue to plan for a new normal on the other side of the pandemic. Plus, the communication you produce signals your company’s stability, its commitment to customers and its agility in adapting to the changing times.
Reason 3 – Being Human Requires Engagement
Lives are being impacted in more ways than we can discuss here, so being human matters more than ever. It means continuing to connect in an authentic and compassionate way.
A quote we love from Maya Angelou that we believe rings true during these inside-out times:
“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
During virtual meetings our business conversations are taking on a more personal tone, and we’re talking with our peers on a deeper level, too. More than ever people want and need to engage in a meaningful way—and this also applies to B2B brands’ communications.
With B2B brand communications, it has always been our recommendation to use a tone of people talking to people. Today’s challenging times underscore the need for B2B content marketing to display authenticity, compassion, and if you have one, your B2B brand’s purpose.
While content should infuse plenty of empathy, it should balance that with providing helpful business information people are searching for about products, services and solutions.
Before you rush into making decisions about your content marketing during these uncertain times, here are 6 key questions to consider:
Question 1 – Should you eliminate your content marketing budget?
Will eliminating your content marketing budget be detrimental for your B2B brand’s future success? Perhaps, you’re able to reallocate a portion of travel, conference, tradeshow or other budgets to your content strategy. Consider whether you can maintain your content marketing efforts, and what your content marketing goals are now.
Are you trying to achieve something different than when you created your plan? You may find some new goals, such as putting people first and helping your customers in different ways, which may require new content and resource centers.
There are a few goals that probably have stayed steady:
· Communicating consistently with simplicity and clarity
· Generating awareness and building trust
· Delivering valuable content that informs and educates within context
· Engaging customers across different formats
Perhaps you can even consider revving it up while your competitors are dialing it down—giving you a much-needed edge.
Question 2 – Should you adjust your B2B content plan?
As you review your content calendar, be flexible with the topics and identify what might be timely now. What is relevant these days? Should you be posting about the surge in card-not-present (CNP) fraud? If you provide cyber security solutions, yes. If you provide banking services, it’s relevant, but probably should be reprioritized after PPP and other immediate interests. If you want to include COVID-19 references to provide content within the context of these times, consider how to layer it in so that it doesn’t affect the flow of the post should you want to remove it in the future to ensure you’re producing content with a longer shelf life.
Question 3 – How should you engage your content agency partner?
Open discussion on revised budgets and strategic plans allows your content agency partner to help you think through how to revise your content marketing plans. Furthermore, they can help you think through which content could be developed in-house without jeopardizing producing high-quality content, and what type should be produced by the content marketing agency.
Question 4 – Can you leverage existing content and repurpose it?
If you need to stretch your budget and be mindful of the amount of time you can allocate to creating new content while at the same time pivoting to handle crisis communication, reschedule tradeshows or help employees adjust to effective remote work situations, pause and evaluate the content you’ve created to date.
As you review your content marketing, your team should ask:
· What content can be repurposed as it exists or with minimal edits (such as refreshing with new imagery or updated statistics)?
· Without needing to start from scratch, what content could be more significantly edited to work?
Question 5 – How should content formats and distribution channels change?
Whether you’re having your content marketing agency repurpose or produce new content, consider the need to explore different formats. Should content be more accessible as a blog post instead of a gated download? Should content be adapted to a more visual format such as an infographic or social video instead of a long-form piece like a white paper? In lieu of tradeshows, should you layer in the top emerging platforms that B2B brands are using?
Here are two of the top emerging platforms:
· Virtual gatherings using a video conferencing platform, ranging from conferences and panels to more social ones.
· Webinars with partners to discuss the implications of the changing market dynamics and industry landscapes affecting business.
Of course, the answers to these questions will depend on your industry.
Question 6 – Are your current call-to-actions (CTAs) still relevant?
As you reevaluate your content, consider your existing CTAs. Are they still appropriate? Or are they too aggressive with hard sells?
Here are two examples. We’re seeing our B2B brands pivot by providing free trials and waiving fees for 90 days to 6 months, whether for cyber security solutions or apps and devices that are helping brands further accelerate their digital transformation.
Are you taking the steps to ensure your brand maintains its digital presence today to secure its longevity and readiness for the other side of this crisis?
Don’t delay your planning or hold back on producing digital content. Listen carefully and stay engaged by continuing to communicate with your customers and community.
We’re here to help you, whether it is to think through the changes needed or to act as an extension of your team to provide the necessary expertise and capacity in a thoughtful and productive way.
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