Doing Content Marketing Right in the Age of COVID-19

Content Marketing

The demand for products and services doesn’t go away, even as most of the world is facing a “stay at home” order. The question is: how can brands fulfill that demand and create awareness for consumers? With social distancing it’s quite simple – online research and shopping, both of which require content to peruse online.

Fact: Attention on online content is 39% greater during this Coronavirus pandemic than pre. ~Nudge

As many of us know, there’s been several industries that have been hit the hardest. For these industries, pent up demand is building and building fast for consumers. Now is not the time to take the foot off the gas pedal on marketing, advertising and PR. Consumers with pent up demand for products and services during this crisis will fulfill their demand as soon as this crisis is over, no matter the industry. Brands that choose not to recognize or invest in this reality now will have the most challenging time getting back to normal. Those doubling down on content marketing, advertising and PR will be best positioned for success in the coming months when this is over.

Now is also not the time to cut content marketing. Instead, brands should look at investing even more & reallocating funds from event and experiential marketing. Remote working is appreciating this trend and shouldn’t be taken lightly by brands. According to NPR, Internet usage went up 29% since the start of the pandemic. Other sources share that desktop/laptop use has substantially grown, too. While brick and mortar stores struggle to pivot away from their in-person experience, digital activity is soaring.

“Protect Budgets. Brands that reduce their spends during times of recession often come out the other end weaker. Every business will have its own unique features, but history tells us on average marketing budgets should be protected, not raided for recovery.” ~BBH

Marketing with Content

With many people working from home, they’re spending their extra time researching online for the products and services they need now; and for the ones that need to wait until this pandemic is over. Because of this, it’s more critical than ever for brands to produce, publish and promote helpful content for consumers that helps them make easier online buying decisions during (and after) the pandemic.

According to the ANA, 92% of the marketers have adjusted their creative messaging since the stay-at-home orders started to hit. It’s still OK to still deliver brand messages during this time. However, the angles taken while communicating with consumers should be considered.

MediaPost suggests the following considerations on messaging:

  • Refocused messaging to reflect empathy and report on how you are there to help.
  • Pull most price/item messaging in favor of “We’re here for you” communications.
  • Favor emotional messaging around social distancing and “We are here for you” over hard sales messages.

Advertising

This is an area where content markers can really scale amplification. With so many consumers stuck at home on their digital devices, now is the ideal time to promote the helpful content described above. The key is to do it in an organic, native way that avoids interrupting consumers.

Some brands have put a halt to their advertising trying to figure out what they should be communicating to consumers during this time. However, that’s a mistake. Between current demand and pent up demand, now is not the time to freeze content amplification. In fact, it’s a good time to increase it for most. However, it may also be a good time re-configuring campaigns that promote taglines like “finger lickin’ good” or “hugs and handshakes,” considering if they should be pulled and repositioned. That’s a minor update in the overarching strategy to success.

Public Relations

Many brands are doing some commendable work in the community to help front-line responders, consumers and even the government. These charitable acts will be rightfully celebrated and will have a lasting positive impression in consumers’ eyes for brands.

Pursuing owned and earned media coverage of these acts to amplify across the Internet is a way to build positive brand consideration as we push through this pandemic. This is definitely an area companies shouldn’t leave by the wayside.

Summary

Projections from eMarketer claim that online advertising will grow this year versus last. However, they’re projecting it will be seven percent less than prior estimates to the virus. Other sources are claiming that 25% of brands have frozen their budgets across marketing and comms channels. For the vast majority of brands, now is not the time to pull back on marketing, advertising and PR if financials allow it. Current & pent up demand both still exist but have moved almost exclusively online. Brands that don’t recognize this will be in a tougher position when the pandemic smoke clears. Now’s the time to double down on marketing, advertising and PR efforts.

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