What’s Trending: Content Takes the Spotlight

May 18, 2020

A self portrait of a male content marketer wearing glasses with his arm crossing his body, looking directly in to the camera.

The current crisis has reduced the size of marketers’ tactical toolkit. In-person events are off the table, and people seem less interested in product-pushing advertising. 

For all of these reasons and more, content marketing is emerging as 2020’s most valuable tactic. People need advice, information, and entertainment. The best content can combine all three. People want to know what your brand stands for, what it’s doing to help, that it’s providing support. Great content is the best way to express values, highlight contributions, and connect with those in need.

Now is the time for marketers to focus on truly helpful, valuable content that can build relationships with a home-bound audience. The reputation you build for your brand through content will give you a marked advantage now and after the crisis passes its peak. 

This week, we’re highlighting articles that can help your content evolve to be as useful and purposeful as possible. I encourage you to start by checking out Melanie Deziel’s guest post here last week featuring Tips for Effective Content Strategy in Today’s Changing Environment, then read on for more advice on content strategy, creation and promotion.

1. How the Crisis Has Made Content More Valuable than Gold

“This crisis has proven beyond a question of doubt how essential thought leaders are to the world, especially at a time when everyone needs to make sense of the chaos in a crisis,” says Adrian Lürssen, in this interview with Adrian Dayton

Adrian L. is the co-founder of content distribution platform JD Supra, and as such has the data on hand to demonstrate just how crucial content marketing is right now. He says that companies are publishing more content than ever before, up to 10x more, and yet reader demand is easily keeping pace with the supply.

What’s more, Adrian L. observes that people are more appreciative of content than they were before the crisis: “The vast majority of the messages going from readers to authors is ‘Thank you so much for your help.’ The only way I can describe their engagement with these thought leaders right now is an absolute Roar of Gratitude.”

Not only is content needed and appreciated, it’s also fulfilling content marketing’s business purpose. Adrian L. says he has seen improved results in marketing and business development, as well as directly attributable new business. “For example,” he says, “recently a group of lawyers in a certain practice area wrote with a specific audience in mind (their perfect client) and the headline was clear, on-topic. They received a message back soon after publishing that basically said, ‘This is our exact problem and we would like to hire your firm.’ Simple as that.”

2. A Content Marketing Playbook for Times of Crisis

It’s clear that the right kind of content can resonate with people during this crisis, meet their needs, and inspire action. But how can you be sure that your content is the right kind? Meghan Keaney Anderson shares some data-driven tips in her latest article for HubSpot.

Meghan reveals that HubSpot has seen increased demand for content as well, with a 40% increase in traffic to their marketing blog and 2x traffic to their online training program. Audience attention, which used to be in short supply, is now operating at a surplus. 

Marketers have to take care in how they reward that increased attention, however: “[There’s] a huge responsibility on marketers to deliver materials that are not only relevant to the current moment, but genuinely impactful, too,” she says.

Meghan recommends careful planning and thoughtful content creation, emphasizing the need to slow down and put extra care into the process: “The first thing marketers should think about is what not to do,” she says. A content-wide audit of every article, email or social post is an essential part of the process before you create new content.

Above all, new content should add value for the audience — but that value can come in different forms, Meghan says. Content that informs or inspires is valuable, but content that entertains also has a place in the mix. “The one thing that should be consistent is an honest effort to help,” she says. 

3. 8 Things to Help Your Content Marketing Survive the Pandemic

Content Marketing Institute Founder Joe Pulizzi has a fascinating perspective on content in a time of crisis. He started CMI at the beginning of the financial downturn in 2007, and his approach to content marketing ensured the business’ success after the economy began to recover.

In this article, excerpted from a self-published book about content marketing in a crisis, Joe digs into the ways we can make content more relevant and useful for our businesses and our audiences at the same time. “An amazing amount of goodwill can be created by brands during times of crisis,” he says. “It’s very challenging to do that with advertising alone ... if there was ever a time to build and grow an audience, it’s right now.”

Joe suggests re-evaluating your content marketing goals in the context of reaching your “true believer” audience. “Focus on rounding up those already interested in what you have to say,” Joe suggests, versus trying to radically change people’s minds or behaviors.

One especially thought-provoking tip: Devote time to your internal marketing, too. Your employees are equally in need of vision, direction, information and inspiration as your external customers. “Your employees are always your best marketing asset,” Joe says. “Get them involved in any content you are creating.”

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