Content Marketing In The Age Of Coronavirus

In these uncertain times businesses of all sizes have been impacted and the pandemic is industry agnostic. We don’t know how long this crisis will last. Social distancing has become the new buzzword and Work From Home (WFH) has suddenly become the new normal.

So how do we as marketers react to this crisis? It certainly isn’t the time to run the same campaigns we were running prior to the Covid-19 onslaught. But that doesn’t mean that we should stop all campaigns & wait for the crisis to tide over either.

In Australia and globally the business environment has shifted radically in the space of a few weeks. All conferences and events have been banned by the government and since WFH is the new normal, this means there is very little traffic on the road. Think about this, if your company was spending money on outdoor advertising/transit media such as airports/stations, with people reducing travel and staying indoors, isn’t it time to shuffle the spend and take advantage of the digital medium.

In certain industries like travel/tourism/events/entertainment/hotels/airlines/retail/restaurants/car dealerships/sports/movies, sales have collapsed and therefore their marketing departments have hit the pause button.

Coronavirus impact on the Australian Restaurant Industry

Even if sales have fallen off the cliff, you can still use content marketing to connect with your audience and keep your brand in front of your target market. Right now, when a lot of people are sitting at home and have the bandwidth to consume content, it is the right time to create appropriate content. This will help your brand rebound quickly once the crisis is over, and over it will be for sure. A vaccine will be developed & the economy will rebound.

Competitive Advantage

Brands across the board have cut back staff and marketing. This is the right time to multiply your content marketing activities and leapfrog your competition.

Experiment With Online

This is an ideal time for some businesses that have focussed on offline events like Conferences, Seminars, Training, Round tables etc to reinvent themselves. AMI is a perfect example of an organisation that is doing this pivot during these uncertain times. Here is a recent announcement they made in view of the covid-19 impact:

“For this reason, we have made the decision to reformat all live events and AMI Professional Development as online events via virtual classroom until further notice.”

Here are some of the online content marketing activities that can be practiced/implemented or enhanced due to the Coronavirus scenario.

Content Rich Website – Ensure your website is up to date with all the latest info about your brand. Have a content first strategy & ensure you create landing pages on your site that address topics your target audience is looking for. A content rich site will pay long term dividends. At the Forward Marketing Summit that I recently attended in Sydney, I was pleased to hear Natalie Miller from Business Australia talk about their Content First approach for their website. This has resulted in 700 articles answering commonly asked questions about Business in Australia and a huge increase in visibility on Google & organic traffic to the website.

Blog – Have a blog as part of your website where you write thought leadership articles. Additionally, tips, case studies and white papers also work really well. Make sure you host your blog on your website as this has significant SEO benefits.

Social Media Posts – There are a myriad social media channels out there, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook Instagram, Pinterest & more. When you are starting out it is important that you select the right channel for your brand. For example, if you are a B2B brand, LinkedIn probably makes much more sense than Facebook.

Webinars – I believe this is going to be a huge competitive advantage for those brands that can quickly adapt their marketing strategy to include this medium. Turn face-to-face events into a digital experience via a webinar. Make the webinars available “on demand” because most people are busy during the day to rock up to live webinars. Make the webinar experience interactive and let the audience join the conversation: use polls, videos, Q&A etc.

Influencer Marketing – Using micro influencers & celebrities has become hugely popular with the exponential growth of social media. Right now, is a good time for you to tap into this segment as a number of these micro influencers are looking for work & have time on their hands. Remember, if you go down this path, you must disclose the collaboration.  

Video Content – Today everyone has access to video cameras via their mobile phone. It is very easy for your brand to create video content. Don’t let the idea that the video needs to be high quality or have a big budget stop you from experimenting with this medium. Product reviews, how-to and unboxing videos are the most popular types of videos on YouTube.

A travel portal, ixigo has used this medium very successfully and their videos have had over 28 Million views on YouTube alone. I just checked out their channel and noticed they have already made content appropriate for the covid-19 crisis & their brand. Here is a video on “How to Make A Mask At Home”.

SEO – What is the first thing customers do when they need to buy a house, car, mobile phone, go on vacation, dine out at a restaurant or even look for a job? They do a Google Search. Therefore, use this time to ramp up your SEO program.

Marketing Breadcrumb Strategy

We know that your brand’s story is unfolding across multiple customer touch points and it takes 7 touches to turn a buyer into a customer. We also know that this journey differs from customer to customer. As marketers we need to know where our customers are looking for information and ensure our brand is present at these pit stops.

I believe right now is the perfect time to connect these dots within your customer’ journey. Write thought leadership articles in your industry, create video content, engage with your customers via social media posts so that when potential customers search for information, your brand pops up in these searches. Your intent should be to create useful information that increases your brands relevance and when the potential customer is ready to take the plunge you are their number 1 destination!

I call this the “breadcrumb strategy”. Drop enough breadcrumbs in your niche that your target audience automatically finds their way to your door!

“As marketers and brand custodians, we are like Hansel and Gretel, and it is our job to leave enough breadcrumbs in our customer’s digital journey so that they find their way to our brand!”
-Sid Lal

Marketing Quote: Customer Journey & Breadcrumbs

When will this crisis get over? I don’t know and my Tasseography is weak. So, If I were you, I would take this opportunity to ramp up content marketing.

On a more general note, use this time to learn new skills or enrol your team in online training. If you can, I would also encourage you to donate your time/resources to other small businesses & help them in their time of need. Karma is a big leveller & this good deed will repay you many times over in the future.

Note: This post was originally published in the Australian Marketing Institute website:

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