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In this new era of communication technologies, people are adapting and changing methods of connecting with the world. The digital age has disrupted the way we relate to families, interact with friends and make connections with brands. Content marketing is revolutionizing the way brands are connecting with customers through two-way conversations in social media channels. Content marketing got its start as over-saturation of feature and benefits messaging. The unabridged proliferation of pitch and persuade advertising produced exhausted consumers as marketers realized they could reach infinite numbers of potential customers more easily, quickly and economically through an increasing number of social media channels. A recent survey revealed that 84 percent of customers prefer and trust online reviews from personal influencers when making a purchase decision.
Much has been written about the lofty heights that content creation holds in the world of modern-day marketing. It’s been called “King,” and it’s importance in attracting consumer attention and driving purchase decisions is touted as an essential element in any business’ marketing strategy. Building trust and confidence with authentic content is the gold standard when developing an effective message. Now that much of the world is sheltered against the invasion of the COVID-19 pandemic, marketers are scrambling to identify ways to keep a brand from disappearing from the minds of consumers who are locked down, financially challenged and emotionally frazzled. With revenue streams drying up, sellers are making decisions necessary to ride out the pandemic and at least survive until the virus subsides and commerce returns to something resembling normal. Content marketing is by nature is a long-term strategy. It can take weeks, months or even years for a well-placed message to generate return on investment (ROI). So how can a content marketing campaign be effective in the near-term?
With a vast number of people stranded at home, there is a significant increase in people working from home, purchasing goods online, and adapting to a new way of life. The physical realm has disappeared from view, but unseen doesn’t equate to not there. Brands must know that customers are connected and looking to hear from them. Katie Gootenberg of Digitally Enhanced says, “Whatever you do, don’t stop! Our natural reaction is to slam on the brakes when we come across the unknown. I get it. However, while disrupted, the market’s still going, people are buying things and there are still things to be done.”
Before the pandemic, content at its best was said to be reliable, helpful, timely and honest. No change here; these elements’ importance to content generation remains fundamental to creating effective messaging, even in the face of communal negativity and despair. Keep in mind that what we knew about our audience in the past has changed. The message should take into account the impact of the pandemic upon the audience, including new situations and concerns. The trendy message that is being overly-crafted appears to one of “We’re all in this together” or “We understand and are here to help”. While demonstrating how an organization can bring a solution to customers’ problems is a welcome message, the saturation across the spectrum of media channels with identical messages may mean a brand is getting lost amid all the competitors’ noise.
Amanda Milligan, marketing director at Fractl and Lee Odden, and CEO of TopRank Marketing says, “Don’t say anything if you’re not going to be providing some kind of value, there’s a lot of sentiment going around and people are getting kind of skeptical or cynical about brands just saying things that sound nice, but they’re not actually doing anything. Brands that are able to assist their target audiences, or simply continue serving customers the way they were pre-pandemic, will continue to build trust and an audience.” Focusing on brand value and organizational culture, and away from “buy this” now promotions, will keep a brand in the minds of consumers without appearing harsh and uncaring. Some creative sellers are realizing that now may not be the best time to “ask for the sale”, but rather a time when planting seeds of recognition may just reap a harvest of rewards down the road. One thing is for certain, not only is everyone in this together, but it is true that none of us have been here before. No matter the intent of the content effort, it is likely to get messy around the learning curve.
Finding the right message in times of crisis and emotional upheaval is never easy. It isn’t so much a matter of saying the right thing as it is about not saying the wrong thing. It is not a time to play off the fears of others, but a time to focus on being empathetic and committed to help in ways that endears a brand in the minds of consumers into the future.
At Junction Creative Solutions (Junction), content is how we communicate. We believe that smart and strategic content differentiates a good brand from the most respected brands. Our team is experienced in content strategy and writing for both traditional and digital solutions, and we are prepared to assist clients in creating messages that positively resonate with target audiences. To learn more, call 678-686-1125 today.