No one would fault you for feeling like a rudderless ship, drifting in dark waters at present. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the chaos associated with it has left us all feeling overwhelmed and uncertain. We are hungry for information, clarity and guidance in this time, but are wading through a flood of miss-information and not quite sure how to add our ‘voice’ to the ‘noise’.
As a content marketer and writer, I feel compelled to help guide the messaging in some way and encourage clear communication. And while it may seem frivolous, I feel that the best way I can help is to offer businesses some ideas on how to implement the right content marketing strategies and become a helpful ‘voice’.
During this unprecedent time, some businesses will be feeling it harder than others. For any business unsure of their future it is wise to minimise if not suspend their marketing activity. It pains me to say that as I’ve been on the receiving end of conservative spending and marketing cost cuts. But the harsh reality of these times indicates that businesses who can transition their services to the digital space will see growth.
For those who do see a glimmer of light, there are benefits in maintaining appropriate content marketing activities. These could be low-cost activities that will do the following:
- Ensure you are connecting with your audience in this challenging time and providing appropriate information that they are looking for and need.
- Keep the fires stoked, so to speak. I often refer to content marketing as being a bit like a slow-dance. The affect of your efforts can be beneficial both now and, in the future, if implemented correctly.
To work out what content marketing activities will help your business remain valuable, viable and accessible during these uncertain times, I have provided some advice on assessing your current activity, and offer some ideas on what you could consider.
Assess Your Existing Content Marketing Strategies
Recently, as I have been perusing Facebook and navigating the vast amount of COVID-19 info, my feed has been interrupted with a sponsored post for a special event, or accommodation deals. Sure, this interruption can be welcome when you have seen way too many shares of supermarket chaos. But I can’t help but think that these businesses are wasting their money.
It is because of this that I feel all businesses need to take some time and assess their current marketing activity. The first step in assessing any activity is asking yourself: is this piece of content just adding to the ‘noise’ or is it providing value?
Content marketing is all about the ‘value’ you can offer. In times of uncertainty you need to be more aware of what your customers, both current and potential, are looking for. And I am pretty sure there aren’t too many looking for accommodation ideas at the moment. So, what are they looking for? Chances are, they want answers.
They want to know how you will continue to support them during the event of a ‘lock down’. They want to know if you have online options, whether this be the ordering of products or the delivery of services. They want to know what you will be continuing to do during this uncertain time and how this will benefit them. They want to know how they will be able to stay connected, both with your business and the community.
With this in mind, the best content marketing activities to move on with are those that provide information on the above. And remember to think of the benefits that any activity will provide your business from both a financial perspective and a relationship perspective.
When you have identified the activities that may not be beneficial to your audience at this time, remember that you don’t have to cancel or completely abandon the idea. You can just hit the ‘pause’ button. Think of the time you have already spent building and creating these pieces of content. This time is not wasted. Instead, think of how you can re-write or re-create those messages to better respond to the needs of now.
What Activities Should I Continue?
After assessing the content marketing activities you are already implementing, and hitting the pause button on those not relevant, it is time to contemplate what else you could be doing. In the event of a lock down, as scary as that may be, we need to think of how our customers will access our services. Of course, digital platforms will be the primary source for this.
As mentioned previously, the businesses that can transfer to the digital context will have the best opportunity to see growth or retain customers in this period. There are opportunities for you to utilise your existing digital platforms to present valuable information and stay connected with your customers. Some ideas are included below.
With the potential closure of physical locations, your website becomes the hub of your business. This is the time to ensure that your website includes content that not only answers your customers questions, but gives them an opportunity to connect with you in a virtual space and discover new services and products that can help them during this time.
Think about any online services you can add, and ensure you have content that discusses the how, what, where, who and when of all of this. Remember clear communication is key in a time of uncertainty, so use your website to clearly communicate what your business will be doing during this time. Make sure you update details of locations, opening hours, services, delivery, and ensure your customers understand how they can access your services and / or products with ease.
I am a big fan of business blogs, and believe they have many benefits when it comes to building your authority and generating new leads. In a time of uncertainty, your blog can be the perfect place to solve your customers’ problems and provide new and valuable information.
It can be tempting to think that time spent on writing a blog is wasted in moments of crisis, but it can actually be a great way for you to get your message out there. Not only will it help with that slow-burn I mentioned previously (i.e. contributing to your SEO efforts), it will help your business build an authoritative and valuable voice.
Just like a blog, online resources that help your customers have many benefits including converting traffic to leads, feeding Google with valuable information and building your business authority. They can also be extremely beneficial when it comes to connecting with your audience in a time where face-to-face education and support is not possible.
By providing your audience with valuable online resources for free or even a minimal fee, you are ensuring they have access to quality information that will support them in challenging times.
Webinars and Online Support Services
Have you been working on a great workshop that you were due to deliver in a month or so? Don’t despair. The content you have created for this workshop can be transformed into a webinar. But remember, consider whether the content is still relevant, and if not, think of adjustments you can make to ensure its value. Your customers will be looking for ways to engage and stay informed during a period of lock down, so educational opportunities delivered in an online context are a great addition to your content marketing activities.
Staying connected will also be important, and one way to do this is to establish an online support service. This could be done via an online portal where you can have one-on-one or group sessions with customers. Think Google Meet or Zoom chats where you can offer the support and advice your customers are looking for during this time.
Social Media Posts and Live Videos
Social media is a noisy space at present. We are all bombarded with a constant stream of messages about COVID-19, not to mention the various opinions of those that are often unwelcome. People are even choosing to have ‘breaks’ from social media to manage their anxieties associated with the crisis. It is because of this that anything you post during this time needs to be considered and valuable.
Take some time to think about the kind of voice you want to add to this space. Rather than ‘selling’ your new online service, think about the value it could offer your customers and present that instead. In times of crisis we need to always be mindful of what we are saying and ensure that we aren’t just adding to the noise. No more sales messages that are irrelevant. No more shares of posts or articles that are not helpful. Only factual, supportive information should be considered.
When thinking about social media as the perfect place to connect and offer support, you could consider implementing a series of Facebook Live sessions that act as a mini support group. This may work better for some industries than others, but consider what your customers are looking for in this time. Maybe they just want a connection and an opportunity to ask questions in an un-filtered, online space. If so, this could work wonders and keep you all connected.
There are no easy answers for business in this unprecedented time. We are all navigating the dark, and unsure of the future. But if we work together, share our ideas, and support each other, we might just find a better way forward.
Whatever we do, let’s make sure we add helpful voices to the cluttered media spaces, and offer clear communication and guidance whenever we can.