If this pandemic has shown us anything, it’s been the true nature of a lot of businesses. We’ve seen the good, the bad and the downright ugly faces of business in 2020 and it’s certainly exposed the cracks between the outward facing image and the inner workings of big and small businesses alike. So, how do you create valuable content marketing during a pandemic?

It’s probably no surprise that for big businesses, profit tends to trump purpose when its crunch time. But we have seen some fantastic examples of small and big businesses maintaining their purpose throughout the pandemic and this is where the magic happens with content marketing during a pandemic – creation and conversion.

So if you were thinking that it’s impossible to draw any positives from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, well, you’d be wrong.

Empathy creates purpose

As any good content creator, marketer or business owner knows, creating content that has no other purpose than sales, isn’t a great place to start. You need to create some understanding, some empathy with your customers. As the Content Marketing Institute points out, 68% of Americans are more likely to share content from purpose-driven brands (we’re pretty confident this applies if you’re also not American…).

If you’re trying to create content and you don’t have a purpose, it’s time to take a step back. Just because you don’t have one right now, doesn’t mean you can’t find one. This is where we need to dig a little deeper. It’s time to create layers with your content and make it rich. Take a look at what’s happening underneath the surface.

You may have a great product, a super service or a game-changing idea – instead of focussing on what you want out of it, take a look at what your customers are going to get out of it. Once you’ve analysed your customers’ needs and wants, take a look at your own. Yep, we know, ultimately the bottom line that we heard about earlier is going to come into play. You want money.

But that does not make for good content, nor is it a purpose that anyone is going to identify or empathise with.

Get clear about what your overall purpose is. Show that you share your customers’ frustrations, desires and aspirations because that purpose shows that you’re not just in it for you. You’re in it for them too. And empathy makes for a great purpose.

Forgetting the bad, there have been some amazing examples of empathy and collaboration in content marketing during a pandemic – like Captain Tom Moore.

Drop the aggressive techniques

If one feeling could sum up what most people and businesses have felt during the pandemic, it would be ‘panic’. And we’re pretty sure that any big decisions, in life or in marketing, driven by panic never lead to great or long-lasting results. Yes, everyone needs business right now. Yes, everyone’s worrying about the future. No, people won’t thank you for pressuring them into making a decision that they might regret later down the line.

You might boost instant sales with a sudden change in marketing technique. You might get an influx of new clients wanting your services. But is it sustainable? And is it in-line with your overall purpose? Before you know it you could have a sudden influx of returns on your hand, because you’re marketed to the wrong people. Or, you could end up with clients who aren’t going to lead to long-term relationships or collaborations.

It can be really tempting to opt for a quick-fix with your marketing during times like these but revisit your purpose. Don’t alienate your audience by getting urgent with your marketing and its messages.

Take time to find out where you can position yourself during this time and stick with it. You may not get instant results, but in a culture that too often looks for a short-term solution to a longer term problem, you could end up with more problems in the long run if you end up too far from your company’s overall purpose.

If you’re struggling with marketing in panic mode, this brilliant blog by Bryony Thomas of Watertight Marketing will help you to get back on track.

And, as always, Nike do it well. No “buy our stuff”, but a consistent tone and campaign aligned with their normal marketing efforts.

Content marketing during a pandemic
Nike get it right.

Don’t suddenly change (unless it’s genuine)

This is a major gripe I have with banks and the way they advertise. There’s been a shift over the last few years to make banks sound more human. To give the impression that they really are there for you. While it’s a lovely sentiment, and they’ve certainly all gone a long way to make their services more accessible and a wider range of products available, underneath it all, they’re still banks.

There’s a disparity between what they say and what they do. This doesn’t engender trust – in fact it’s a sure fire way of losing customers and having a lot of unhappy customers. This pandemic has highlighted a sudden change in what they’re doing – and I can’t help but be cynical of their motivations. It’s done under the guise of being there for their customers during difficult times. But the reality is, if you call a bank during difficult times, personally, on most occasions you’ll be met by a wall of “no”. Now, they’re all falling over themselves to offer you a mortgage payment holiday, an interest free overdraft – but not for the long term.

This sudden change in advertising is misplaced and makes it feel like a trick. They give the impression of taking a personal approach and make you feel all the feels, but it’s not genuine and any change are not for the long term (meaning that you still have the same old problems at the end of it.).

Banks (Quoting Lloyds Bank here)

Because now more than ever, we’re here for you.

Also banks…(Halifax)

When your payment holiday ends, the amount you pay each month will go up. This new monthly amount is to cover the interest charges and payments you missed while you took a break.

The challenge for all of us creating content marketing during a pandemic is to be more of who you really are, without thinking about the bottom line. Putting profit to one side focuses that messaging towards one of connectivity and meaning for your customers. Yes it’s hard, but refining that essence could be a golden moment for your marketing campaigns for the long haul.

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