If there is one skill a business should have, it’s the ability to adapt…and adapt quickly. With the Coronavirus pandemic forcing companies to do things differently, adaptation isn’t a choice anymore. One of the first things that businesses have needed to adapt, seemingly overnight, is the way in which they spend their marketing budget.
Rewind to April 2020. Events were cancelled. Networking was reduced to Zoom or Teams meetings. These activities were the lifeblood of traditional B2B business generation. This was a disaster for some, but seemingly a great opportunity in disguise for businesses who have previously neglected online channels and digital content marketing.Those ‘significant’ events budgets should now be put to good use elsewhere and we believe content marketing is a safe investment. Effective content marketing will play a crucial role as B2B organisations look to new means of communication with their target audience and this will continue to be the case as we move to a post-lockdown world.
Content marketing isn’t just blogging
Content marketing – as you may already know – is so much more than blogging. It encompasses social media, vlogs, tutorials, podcasts, soundbites. If you can film or record it for your brand and put it online, it’s content, and you are sharing it to all of your audience and beyond. It’s no doubt that content marketing will become stronger out of this crisis. Guiseppe Caltabiano of rockcontent.com says:
“During the outbreak, maintaining brand credibility with public interest content and ads should be prioritized over any sales promotions and product-driven communications.”
As Dave Gerhardt put it: “Content is the thing that gets people to know/like/trust your brand. And if you do content right over the next 3-6 months, you can build relationships with people who will be your future buyers in Q4 and beyond. Just because people might not be buying in your industry doesn’t mean they don’t want entertainment or education from your brand.”
The key to effective use of content marketing post lockdown is twofold ‘education’ and ‘visibility.’
You may not be able to do business right now, but you can certainly remain in the forefront of your customers mind through your content marketing strategy, positioning your brand as thought leader in the process. Instead of “sell sell sell” type posts, use this time to educate and be of value to your audience through the content you produce. Whether this means offering free Zoom seminars, industry guides or tips to navigate the recovery, or just simply posting what you know to your audience. If you know your audience thrives on content that offers free help and support then do just that.
There are a range of content types you can produce, including:
- Social media Q&A sessions
- Tutor sessions about your business online
- Information hubs
- And much more
A report by Kantar found that “the top three comms strategies among consumers include talking about how the brand is helpful in the new everyday (77%), keeping them informed about the brand’s reaction to the new situation (75%), offering a reassuring tone (70%).”
Where should you be posting? Wherever your audience is!
Use this time to explore new channels to distribute your content. For example, during the lockdown period, LinkedIn has seen a massive upswing in its engagement, as shown here. If you haven’t embraced LinkedIn before and your audience is active on Linkedin, it’s time to double down on your Linkedin efforts.
Under lockdown, web browsing grew by 70%, linear TV viewing increased by 63%, and social media 61%. Stuart from Tiga, a B2B creative marketing agency in Kent says:
“We know that B2B has a longer burn and conversion time than consumer marketing and in that sense, B2B is hugely different to B2C. But, people are people and we need to talk to them as people, especially in the current climate, and use the same channels as B2C when relevant. More important, is that you define and target your audience and reach out to them in a language they will understand, regardless of your channel mix.”
What about the content on my website?
It’s time to review the content on your website, your blog, your vlog platform, and your social media. Take a look at your older content and if it’s relevant, give it a refresh and share it. You will be putting out something similar for your audience, but the updated content is often packed with new things you’ve learned – improving the value of the content. Reviewing your existing content gives you a chance to thin out the incorrect information, flesh out with relevant information and show that you have grown and learned as a leader in your arena.
A note on responsibility
Lastly, it’s essential to remember that while you execute your content marketing strategy, you are not just the business on the screen; you are a human being going through the same fears and worry about Coronavirus as any of the audience that you are hoping to reach. It’s your duty to be responsible while you are reviewing and creating content.
Exploiting the coronavirus pandemic for business gain? Well, that just removes your authority, credibility and is in particularly bad taste. According to research by Kantar which “uncovers how people’s media habits, attitudes and expectations can guide brands’ strategy during the Coronavirus pandemic” found that “75% of respondents agreed that brands should not “exploit” the COVID-19 situation to promote the brand. Forty percent of the sample believes brands should avoid humour.”
You may be donating to Covid19 related causes or engaging in charity work, however, it’s important that you tastefully post about this as opposed to using the opportunity to tell your audience how good your company is.
Michael works with content marketing experts Tiga, based in Kent.