What’s Trending: Getting Up to Speed
April 6, 2020
The new trend going around social media is people showcasing what they’re doing with their “extra time.” If you are able physically and mentally to pick up a new hobby, plow through your reading list, or take online courses right now, that’s great!
If, on the other hand, you’re stressed out, cooped up, and not really finding all that “extra time” others are talking about, don’t feel bad. Most of us are experiencing this as a challenge, not an opportunity. But fortunately we can lean on one another for support, ideas, and encouragement.
This week, I went looking for resources to help all of us continue to adapt both our marketing and our workload. I found a few solid ways to get back up to speed, and some inspiring examples of brands that are doing great marketing right now.
If you’re struggling with organization, focus or productivity as you work from home, this longform article from Clare McDermott is a godsend.
The original article is from 2018, but Content Marketing Institute updated it as it’s especially relevant right now. “How do super creative and productive people get through the daily grind ... yet still manage to preserve their creative energy?” she asks. “They, in part, optimize technology.” This post is all about the free or inexpensive tools you can use to keep orderly and productive.
Clare includes perennial favorites like Evernote and Asana, but you’ll also find some more obscure solutions that could help lighten your workload. The most intriguing for me: Mixmax, a highly customizable email automation tool that plugs into Gmail.
It may be tempting to go all in on these 16 tools, but Clare suggests taking a more measured approach.
“Always add apps one at a time to your toolkit, particularly plug-ins or add-ons ... to existing apps,” she says. In addition to the potential for technical difficulties when apps work together, you risk overwhelming your brain with too many changes at once and losing what productivity you might have gained.
The title sounds like this will be a platitude-filled thought leadership piece, full of lofty observations about being useful, kind, and relevant. That would be all well and good, but Amanda Milligan aims for something more substantial and practical here.
Amanda spent hours analyzing search trends for various keywords across multiple verticals. With that research, she’s able to recommend types of content that people are searching for in connection to industries like travel, education, healthcare, and more.
Regardless of what specific content your audience is looking for, Amanda suggests you can’t go wrong with positivity: “If you’re not responsible for delivering breaking news or important COVID-19 updates, look for opportunities to amplify joy, gratitude, hope, or any other positive emotion. People are looking for health and safety updates, but they’re looking for inspiration, too,” she says.
As we said in the last couple of roundups, now is not the time to pause or stop marketing altogether. Carole Alalouf agrees: “If you build and maintain your brand through hard times, you can position yourself as a trusted, reliable and reassuring presence in your industry,” she says. What’s more, “As other brands cut back on their marketing efforts, you can stand out and improve your competitive advantage by investing wisely in the right tactics.”
For Carole, adapting your marketing to the current environment involves both reshaping your messaging and exploring new tactics. First, make sure your automated ads, emails, and newsletters are updated to be sympathetic and sensitive. People are experiencing everything from anxiety to grief right now — if you’re putting a message in front of them, it has to be relevant in that context.
Once your messaging is in order, Carole recommends developing 12 tactics that will serve both now and in the future. If you haven’t crafted a video marketing strategy, or if you’re lacking an email newsletter, this article can help you get started.
Speaking of messaging: It can be challenging to determine just how much or little your brand should say about a crisis. If your brand voice is playful or casual, is it time to send out a staid, formal email? Do you risk looking irreverent, or go the other way and risk seeming disingenuous?
These examples from Jodi Harris can help you thread the needle. She highlights examples of companies that kept their brand voice, expressed sympathy, and kept customers informed about the pandemic. I’m particularly impressed with Two-Bit Circus, an amusement park with a lighthearted, irreverent brand voice. They kept the humor, but added a little infusion of sincerity and warmth to go along with it. The resulting email sounded more genuine than any straight-faced “keep it professional” message would have.
Make the Most of Your Time
There’s no shortage of memes and images out there telling people to make the most of their time during the quarantine. But what they don’t say is that “the most” means something different for everyone. If you put in a 10-hour workday and got in a workout before your mandolin practice, that’s amazing. If you got your kids lunch on time, helped them with their remote schoolwork, and finished a few essential tasks for work, that's amazing, too. Keep doing what you can, push yourself when you can, and remember that it’s not a competition.