By Vikas Agrawal, co-founder at Infobrandz, an elite team of visual communication experts taking content marketing to the next level.
The coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage countries around the world. In its wake, businesses have been forced to rethink most of their business processes, with many forced to institute layoffs or close down operations altogether.
As a startup co-founder, I had to let go of a number of our best staff during the early days of the pandemic, not because they suddenly became expendable, but because of the impossible conditions presented by this crisis. While the layoff affected every department in the company, we were careful not to trim down the marketing department, even hiring two additional employees during that period to help boost our content marketing efforts.
Six months into the pandemic, and with most states facing another wave of Covid-19 infections and lockdowns, we’re happy we spared our marketing department. We’ve managed to survive most of the effects of the pandemic, and most of our KPIs point to better days ahead thanks to our content marketing efforts.
For forward-thinking entrepreneurs, the current crisis offers many opportunities for growth. Your content marketing strategy is one of those areas that can really benefit from extra attention during this period. Many potential customers have suddenly found themselves with more time on their hands — either by virtue of losing a job or being forced to work remotely. So, naturally, your average customer is spending more time on their laptop, tablet and other digital devices to work, look for opportunities or just kill time. This gives your business the perfect opportunity to interact with them via meaningful content.
So, with everything going on, your content strategy should be structured for maximum impact during this crisis. Here are a few approaches I’ve learned along the way to help you achieve that.
Basically, be here, there and everywhere.
For the most part, a crisis can be devastating for businesses that are trying to grow and establish themselves. But even during a crisis, marketing is one of those facets of your business that shouldn’t be sacrificed in the name of cost-cutting. In fact, this is the best time to increase your marketing efforts to ensure you’re actively visible across all relevant platforms.
In addition to Google, Facebook and other ad platforms that businesses use to improve visibility, targeted ad campaigns can be highly effective at placing your ads in front of the right audience. According to data from one case study, companies achieved two to three times higher click-through rates (CTR) from the use of ad banners that were paired with location-based targeting compared to banners without location-based targeting. The study, which was published by Targetoo, was an eye-opener for us, and we felt it would be a significant plus for our marketing efforts. Three months in, our CTR from our main content marketing activities hovered around 2%, which was quite significant for us.
With the current work-from-home approach that most organizations across the globe have implemented, there’s never been a better time to experiment with new techniques to help boost visibility while reducing costs.
Double down on community-based engagement.
The current pandemic continues to transform interactions between businesses and their customers. As it continues to strip down much of what we’ve known about the human connection, it’s important to find and implement new ways to engage with audiences. Community marketing is one of those ways.
Considering social distancing rules, the traditional method of impromptu site visits is out of the question. Thus, online meetings via different platforms such as Zoom and Skype are the new way to engage. Incorporated with emails and direct calls to potential clients, this approach creates an all-round marketing strategy that allows an organization to pull all strings to sell.
One of the strategies we implemented at our startup involved holding weekly live podcasts and webinars that let people dial in and ask questions. We don’t necessarily stick to a given script during the sessions, which allows people who call in to discuss everything business- and nonbusiness-related, including current challenges, fears, worries and many other topics that wouldn’t have been “appropriate” before the crisis. This way, our brand has managed to connect with a wider segment of our target market, something that would have been expensive and unorthodox before the pandemic.
Improve brand awareness.
With dwindling sales and reduced customer numbers, it’s always tempting for businesses to ramp up their sales tactics as a way to boost sales. However, your business might achieve higher gains with brand awareness than promotions during times of crisis.
That said, as much as crises seem to decrease sales, they also offer businesses an opportunity to build brand awareness. This entails revisiting your marketing content, from your target audience to your market positioning to your marketing platforms. This approach reevaluates the existing marketing strategies and works toward implementing new strategies — if not revising the old — so as to enhance the reach to target clients.
The use of campaigns on social media is a good approach that allows a brand to pull in followers and potential clients. The most important thing is refocusing how to develop a story that would sell to people and trigger the interest of individuals across all social media platforms, and one that individuals can reason with.
Establish media partnerships.
With the rise of social media influencers who drive brand campaigns, this would be the perfect moment to integrate them into marketing. The reason behind this? Most influencers already have a large following.
This means the key focus of implementing this strategy basically revolves around selecting the right social media influencer who has a large following, who fits the target audience age bracket and whose character reasons with your brand. This means an influencer who will not paint the wrong picture for your brand but rather bring in positivity.