What’s Trending: Aim Higher than “Normal”
April 20, 2020
After a month or more in isolation, it’s natural to romanticize the idea of returning to “normal.” Traffic, crowded supermarkets, having to dress up for work every day — all of these one-time annoyances seem almost pleasant compared to the current day-to-day. If we knew it was responsible and safe to do so, most of us would settle for “normal” again.
But why settle? Instead of working toward a return to normal, let’s work toward something extraordinary. We can elevate content marketing right now in ways that will continue to resonate long after the current crisis has passed.
For this week’s trending roundup, we’re focusing on three articles that can inspire you to level up your content marketing. Use these resources to form new strategies that will help you connect with your audience now, and build relationships that will serve you in the future.
From news headlines to social media to email newsletters, most of our public discourse has been consumed with the coronavirus. For Greg Sterling, this raises an important question: “What should you be creating and how do you differentiate your content, when everyone else is basically doing the exact same thing?” To get at the answer, Greg spoke with leading marketers to see how they’re changing their strategies.
Meghan Keaney Anderson of HubSpot suggests a laser focus on what content should always be doing: Helping customers solve problems. “We have never witnessed such sudden and dramatic shifts in what audiences need,” she says, “and we are continually adapting our content strategy in order to be as helpful as possible.”
For Casie Gillette of KoMarketing, it’s not an option to ignore the crisis, but we shouldn’t be writing just to fill space. “At the same time,” she says, “we are encouraging clients to publish their regularly scheduled content.” Casie feels it’s worth publishing evergreen content right now for long-term SEO gain, as well as to continue helping customers solve the other problems in their lives that aren’t related to the pandemic.
As for what content specifically resonates right now: Original research is always a deep well of value for content marketers, and the pandemic is no exception. “Create content based on research and data,” says Todd W. Lebo, from Ascend2. “Readers want science and data to help them make the best decision, and this is especially true during challenging times.”
Finally, Patrick Reinhart suggests striking a balance. “You should absolutely address what’s going on in the world, but you also should be OK with not addressing it,” he says. “What a lot of businesses are doing right now is only talking about the virus and not talking about other ways to help their customers. Right now is a great time to plant trees for SEO if you haven’t already.”
It’s safe to say that, back in December, none of us put “global pandemic and lockdown” in our content plan for 2020. Although we don’t have to throw out every bit of content we had planned — see the previous article — we can pivot to be more relevant and successful in the months to come.
Brian Maschler recommends changing focus to short-term planning and being in constant communication both internally and externally. Most importantly, he suggests brands develop big ideas for helping: “Double down on your core values and ask how your brand can help improve a bad situation,” he says.
For Brian, this is a time for marketers to think about how they can be unifiers, both within the organization and outside of it. “A sudden economic downturn creates an equally sudden need for Customer Success, Operations and Sales teams to unite around a common plan,” he says. “And Marketing is best positioned to connect these groups.”
Seth Godin famously said, “Content marketing is the only marketing that’s left.” That sentiment couldn’t be more true right now. As Stephanie Stahl observes in this article, many traditional paid tactics are declining or in flux. Content is one of the few remaining ways we can truly reach an audience.
“Smart brands are recognizing the value of content marketing in the short AND long term,” she says. “Though your audiences might not be looking to buy now, they are looking for information or even entertainment – and you can provide that in a way that complements your brand.” As Stephanie observes, content marketing is a practice over 275 years old — it has stayed relevant through other crises, even pandemics, and continues to be relevant now.
Stephanie admits that it’s not surprising the Content Marketing Institute should be bullish on the future of content marketing. But the facts support her stance: “In this new era, marketing budgets will be scrutinized more closely than they ever have been,” she says. “Content marketers can do a lot with budgets that pale in comparison to traditional advertising and marketing vehicles. Content marketing is certainly not free to do, but it can be more affordable in generating positive outcomes.”
Aim High with Your Content
Content marketers have an opportunity to take the lead in their organizations and elevate the profession. Content can be effective on a lean budget, it respects social distancing, and it can inspire and inform your audience even as it establishes a relationship with your brand. Let our roundup inspire you to aim higher.
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