Your customer has a problem. You sell a solution to that problem.
It’s up to your business’s marketing to educate your customer on why your products and services are the best ones on the market to help them solve this problem. Then they’ll get a chance to compare what you offer against your competition, and if you come out on top, they’ll take a chance with you.
You now have a new client.
This, of course, isn’t new to anyone. This is how customers have always made the decision to buy or hire a business that provides a service. It’s the all‑so‑ubiquitous buyer’s journey — it’s business as usual.
However, business isn’t usual anymore. We’re in the midst of a global crisis the likes of which this world has never seen before. At the time of writing this article, it’s still too soon to know the extent of the crisis or what long term effects on the way businesses run it will have. One thing we know for sure is that everything has changed. And your marketing strategy has to adapt.
So, what is The New Normal in business?
What has changed for customers? For one, your customers — and everyone else — aren’t keen on taking chances anymore. The amount of risk they’re willing to accept for any transaction has decreased dramatically. People also have questions about how you, as a business, will be able to continue delivering to them, given the circumstances.
This means that truly effective marketing must reassure potential customers that your organization is the right fit for them. Aside from reassuring them that you’re handling the crisis well, you have to communicate both the value and reliability of what you sell. Your customer needs certainty.
And providing certainty just happens to be content marketing’s specialty.
Content Marketing, Defined
Content marketing is a marketing strategy that relies on the creation of useful, educational, and relevant pieces of content so that your target audience can be moved to act and become a client/customer.
Although originally based on blogs and articles, this type of digital marketing isn’t limited to text. It can use a variety of mediums and distribution channels. Podcasts and video are an example, and websites and social media can also serve as distribution channels.
A real‑life example of content marketing is this article you’re reading.
What Makes Content Marketing Work?
Content marketing is about providing value upfront, often totally free. It makes heavy use of the reciprocity persuasion principle.
In other words, you give your potential customer something valuable via content. In turn, they will more seriously consider buying from you in order to reciprocate.
To make sure you are truly providing value, you need to do the necessary research to know your customer’s exact motivations. We won’t explore this aspect of content marketing in this article because it’s a topic on its own.
“Nobody Reads Anymore”
You’ve probably heard “Blogging doesn’t work,” “Nobody reads anymore…” or something similar before.
And this statement is flat out wrong.
Blogging is still alive and very, very well. And kicking. While people may be reading fewer books, blogs are increasing the amount of content on their posts. Plus, this marketing channel is paying off for those who do it right.
While yes, we are in a world of reduced attention spans; and for your brand, content marketing might not be the best strategy. This tends to only be the case for low‑cost products or services that rely on impulse buying.
However, if your product doesn’t fit that description, content marketing is perfect for you.
Here are some relevant stats to showcase the effectiveness of content;
- Content marketing gets three times more leads than paid search advertising. (Content Marketing Institute, 2017)
- Over ¾ of internet users say they read blogs regularly. (Quoracreative, 2019)
- Marketers who prioritize blogging efforts are 13 times more likely to see positive ROI. (HubSpot, 2019)
Now that we’ve established that content marketing works let’s see how to use as a form of crisis communication, if you will.
Here are three companies that are creating content in a timely, smart, and respectful manner for their audience.
As a brand that specializes in helping startups with their finance, HR, and tax planning, Kruze Consulting realized quickly that a significant area of interest for their clients is how the COVID‑19 (coronavirus) stimulus act can benefit startups and small businesses. Now they have a series of resources on their website, blog, and podcast.
They interview experts on their podcast, such as the CEO of Lendio and the founder of Blumberg Capital, amongst others. Then they published very detailed and step‑by‑step blog posts about startup eligibility for the CARES act, as well as a calculator for loans.
The stakes are high for SMBs and startups. One wrong move can cost them their business and Kruze Consulting’s content clearly reflects that.
Jirav is a finance SAAS that provides cloud‑based financial planning and analytics.
Right now, they know that the most significant concern on their clients’ minds is cash. They also know that the reason why money is so big on their minds is that they don’t know what is going to happen.
To address this situation, they leveraged one of their biggest strengths—forecasting—and created a model for the COVID‑19 pandemic. Then, to follow up on that information, the marketing team created a series of blogs and webinars that cover questions and concerns that resulted from said analysis.
Besides being entirely relevant and useful, their blog is proof that they understand what’s going through their client’s mind.
Smith.ai is a virtual receptionist service for live calls and website chat. With the sudden move to remote work for most service companies, being able to manage that transition has become a top priority for businesses all over the world.
Since this is an area where they have ample expertise, the marketing team took a two‑prong approach:
- They capitalized on podcast appearances and various online speaking opportunities to build brand awareness and thought leadership.
- They decided to focus on a critical segment of their clients: law firms.
- Since law firms often operate traditionally, they went out and interviewed lawyers that could provide expert insight into the transition to working remotely and navigating the crisis. They focused their content creation efforts on essential technological tools for small law firms and leadership in times of economic uncertainty.
- Finally, they published case‑study‑type articles that showcase how they streamline services for their clients.
Giving Your Customer What They Want
During this time of crisis—more than anything else—your audience needs answers. Having those clear answers handy can lead to certainty, and certainty leads to more customers choosing you.
Just keep in mind: they’re not looking for a mindless, generic answer. They want something genuine; they’re looking for someone to trust.
If there’s one thing in common that the three businesses’ responses share is how genuine their answers are, and the level of understanding of their current situation is palpable. By producing content that provides real, actionable solutions (along with a clear roadmap) — each example gives genuine help.
This is the true value. And during times of crisis, value makes all the difference.