The COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic is raging around us, wreaking havoc across the U.S. and the world. With the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring COVID-19 a global pandemic, many states have issued shelter in place orders forcing all businesses deemed "non-essential" to close their doors. And let's not pretend that when the economy reopens that things will just go back to normal. The businesses lucky enough to survive the lockdown may not survive much past the reopening of the economy. While content marketing alone won't be enough to keep your business afloat, it can definitely help you stay relevant to your current, former and potential clients. Let's talk about how you can up your content marketing game during the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic.
What is Content Marketing?
Well, if you're reading this you probably understand that content marketing is content used for marketing. Looking at it a bit closer, it is the generation and sharing of materials online such as graphics, blogs, videos, and social media posts. The idea behind it is not to shovel salesy content down your followers' throats until they unfollow you, but to generate interest in your products or services AND your brand. This means diversifying your content and finding creative ways to keep your followers engaged.
Content Marketing During COVID-19
One of the main reasons brands choose to hire a marketing agency to do their content marketing for them is due to a lack of time. Well, the COVID-19 crisis has given us all a plethora of time to work on these things. Your strategy shouldn't be the same as it was before COVID-19. The content strategy you employed before should be revamped to accommodate your new target audience. That's right, marketing leaders all agree that it's time to redefine who your target audience is because chances are likely it's not the same as it was a few months ago.
Keeping Up With Industry Trends
To really stay relevant and keep your business afloat you'll need to keep up with consumer behavior patterns and what's trending in your industry. Adapting during the COVID-19 crisis is detrimental to your business. With that in mind, while creativity and innovation can take you far, you don't have to reinvent the wheel. Spend a couple hours doing some research on what people are querying the search engines for. Google Trends is a great tool for this. Check out what your competitors are doing to get some ideas and to find out what's working and what's not. Armed with that information, let your creative juices flow.
No one knows what tomorrow may bring. Brands will need to remain flexible, adapt quickly and ensure they're providing pertinent information to their clients in a timely manner.
It's free and there are hundreds of thousands (millions on some platforms) of users daily. If you haven't already, create profiles on various social platforms. You may think just having Facebook is enough, but you never know where you'll find your next customer so do you want to miss out on that business?! Some of the social media platforms you should consider creating a page on are Facebook (an absolute must these days for almost ALL businesses), Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. Not all platforms will suit all industries and we get that. Instagram is not approved for financial advisors and if your target audience is largely made up of people who are unemployed, LinkedIn may not be the best channel to market on - unless you're a non-profit looking to bring in volunteers and donors.
Some best practices to keep in mind when creating and maintaining social media include:
Keeping your profiles consistent on ALL platforms.
Posting platform relevant content.
Marketing to your target audience.
Post engaging content; not just salesy material.
Engage with your followers.
Keep your followers informed - especially during the COVID-19 crisis.
There are tools out there which allow you to plan and schedule your social media posts and status updates in advance. In fact, HootSuite offers a free plan allowing you to post up to 30 days in advance on three different platforms. They do have paid plans that extend beyond the 30 days, but for those on a budget right now, the free plan could be very beneficial. With the extra time on your hands you could create a content calendar and get the next 60 days pre-scheduled. Maintaining your routine postings could be one less thing to worry about once the economy reopens.
Consider your virtual options. Why not offer a virtual Q&A session to your potential customers to answer any questions they may have about your products or services. This may be virtual, but it does put the human element back into it. Why not host a Zoom product showcase? Want to demonstrate how your product may be of use to people? Host a webinar. There are lots of ways to get your information out there and to stay relevant with your target audience. Another way we recommend bridging the virtual gap is to add a chat service to your website making it even easier for your potential customers to get in touch.
Realtors are offering virtual tours of properties and home buying webinars. Financial advisors are offering video conferencing consultations and offering webinars on things like the impact the CARES Act will have on retirement accounts. Even places like those "wine and canvas" shops are going virtual, offering virtual paint nights via Zoom.
Blogging for almost every industry is becoming more of a standard. You may be wondering why your company and/or industry should be blogging and the answer is a multi-faceted one. One of the biggest reasons we encourage blogging is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). If you are looking to compete with your competitors for positioning with the search engines, this is the way to accomplish that. Your customers (and potential customers) are querying search engines using specific keywords. Conducting keyword research and utilizing those very keywords in your blogs can help you rank higher in the search engines. However, one blog is not normally enough to take you to the top spot. Though search engine ranking isn't the only reason you should be blogging. Blogging can help establish your company as a thought leader in your industry and can instill trust in your readers.
While videos are gaining traction, they are an often underutilized way of reaching followers. YouTube has over 2 billion users with approximately 30 million people active on the platform daily. Even users on platforms like Facebook and Instagram are watching videos. In fact, about 25 percent of followers will unfollow a page without video content. Video content doesn't necessarily have to be a high quality video produced by a company charging an exorbitant fee, but could be as simple as you going live on the social networks. Remember, there are videos with thousands (and sometimes millions!) of views and those videos are of people playing a video game or of kids playing with a toy.
What Message Should We Convey?
Your marketing message during COVID-19 should not only provide information regarding things such as closures and openings, but also a message of hope and positivity to the community. Are you donating supplies or sewing some masks to give to a local hospital? Even if you're not, you should still seek to be a beacon during these unprecedented times. Your customers want to see compassion. Know of some good resources that everyone could benefit from? Can you provide some inspiration to others? Your actions right now will define you in the coming days and could present new opportunities for you in the future.
Content Marketing Solutions
Take the opportunity to review your strategies and build up some content. If you get stuck, the internet is great for finding inspiration. Check out some YouTube videos, have a look at what your competitors are doing to find out what works and what doesn't. Some companies have even been building relationships by asking their followers what they'd like to see, building relationships with them that will withstand the lockdown.
There may be social distancing laws in place, but we're in this together. Pendragon Consulting has been providing custom content marketing solutions for clients across the nation. We understand that no two businesses are the same and your marketing strategy shouldn't be either. Brands across the nation are finding creative solutions to stay afloat right now. Pendragon Consulting wants to support small business owners during the coronavirus pandemic. Give us a call today at 443-343-2313 to schedule a free consultation or send us a message via our website. Let's work together on a strategy to get the information out to your followers and to up your content marketing game during COVID-19.