When it comes to best-laid plans going astray, look no further than editorial planning for 2020. Content marketers everywhere have been faced with constant changes to their carefully crafted editorial calendars as a result of the pandemic. From shifting customer needs to changes in reopenings to refocusing the brand on new products, it’s essential right now to create and distribute content that isn’t just unique and valuable, but also in the moment.
The question: how do you adapt your brand’s content to make sure you’re using the right tone and messaging when things are changing so fast?
Let’s take a look at what we’ve learned so far and figure out how all of those lessons can help us better plan an agile content strategy for the future. Your brand will be better positioned to connect with your customers no matter what’s happening in the outside world.
Find new content angles instead of relying on “doom and gloom” tropes.
When the pandemic hit, every copywriter on the planet started writing about “these uncertain times,” which segued into “the new normal.” But the pandemic isn’t a phenomenon that will end any time soon. Brands need to shift away from the same tired phrases to differentiate themselves from the competition and to provide relief to their customers who are getting the same messaging from all sides.
You can let go of the somber tone and messaging while still conveying that the world feels different and stressful. Don’t zero in on what feels bad right now, although you can certainly acknowledge those feelings; instead, forge ahead with new topics that help engage your customers in a different way. Provide your customers with content that is impactful, optimistic, and true to your brand’s voice.
“Consumers want sincere, human-like communication from their favourite brands right now.”
Your brand can shift from “we’re here for you in these tough times” to finding ways to actually provide value and become an integral part of the process forward for your customers.
Explore new possibilities for at-home audiences instead of the same old content.
Most people are still limited in their activities and spending most of their time at home, especially since back-to-school is on hold for many people. Content driven by the “what to do at home” narrative has seen a huge boom across every industry, but you can’t beat the same drum forever.
So, how do we get more specific with stay-at-home content so it’s relevant, helpful, and not rehashing what people already know? Your team needs to brainstorm new angles to explore for your customers.
For example, one of our clients, Chefs’ Toys, started out as a B2B brand, marketing primarily to restaurants and commercial kitchens. In the past few months, they’ve built out their ecommerce business by shifting to content for at-home cooks, from aspiring chefs to beginners to parents looking to engage with their children in the kitchen.
Get creative about how your brand can connect with customers virtually through content.
Your brand needs to be interacting and engaging your customers at every stage of the customer journey. That means you need to create content that goes beyond product-focused or sales-oriented topics.
Consider how you can help your customers break out of the doldrums of stay-at-home life by offering a new way for them to develop skills, have fun, or connect with loved ones online.
That might mean developing educational content like an online course, offering a virtual tour, or teaching them how to make something new. Look internally at what valuable content you already have and give it new life by transforming it into something external. And don’t limit yourself to a blog post. Could you create something more experiential that uses multiple kinds of media, such as virtual tours or interactive tutorials??
It’s never been more important to listen to your customers and what they’re saying online. What resources can you create to address concerns or offer solutions? Whether it’s a simple FAQ page around a topic in your brand’s area of expertise or an in-depth resource addressing a significant content gap in the market, make sure you’re making the most of opportunities to be there when your customers are in need.
Finally, look to content marketing as a means to make your business more accessible. Are there ways to bring your primary services to an online audience? From gyms to real estate brokerages to museums, brands are finding new ways to bring value to customers through virtual services. Discounts and promotions (strategically deployed, of course), including extended free trials of subscription services, can also help customers feel like your product or service is more in reach financially and help them make purchase decisions.
Great content marketing means focusing on helping your customers, not selling your product.
As content marketers, we know that the best content marketing is focused on helping, not just selling. The good news is that the rest of the world is starting to understand that idea out of necessity.
Brands need to develop a sense of empathy with their customers if they want to build and maintain long-term relationships, as well as focus on business goals. Content assets that don’t meet both of those criteria are no longer acceptable.
We worked with The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf to write an excellent blog about finding happiness while working from home. Google Trends data showed that’s what people were searching for, not “best places for coffee.” The brand found a way to connect with customers based on what they actually needed in the moment, building affinity and investing in the relationship instead of just looking at the purchase decision.
There’s a ton of ways to deliver content to your customers. The decisions you make about what kind of content you’re producing now will affect how your customers feel about your brand for a lifetime.
Make sure you get it right.
For more on how brands are adapting their digital marketing strategies, check out our panel, featuring marketing leaders from Frontier Airlines, Johnny Was and NuFace: Don’t Call It A Comeback: H2 2020 Digital Marketing Planning & Beyond.