From a business standpoint, the coronavirus crisis has us all living with the fear that stems from uncertainty. When will it be over? Will our jobs or businesses be eliminated? Will working as a remote team destroy our productivity? Will our business bounce back when all is said and done?
This has led to businesses retrenching—just holding on to what they have until the crisis passes. Budgets are being slashed, marketing teams being let go.
If you’re looking to justify content programs and budgets during this time of crisis, we have 8 ideas you can share with key stakeholders, plus 3 suggestions for increasing your content without blowing up your budget.
You’re an agency? Share this list with your clients to make a case for your services.
Why Double Down on Content? 8 Talking Points
- History is on your side.
Not only have major businesses launched (and introduced new products) during times of crisis, they’ve thrived. GE started right before the Panic of 1873, Disney launched during the Great Depression, and Apple created the iPod right as the dot-com bubble burst.1
- Cutting content is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
It’s easy to justify slashing your content marketing budget, since this creates a downward spiral. You stop creating new content, your visitors/subscribers/sales drop, and you use that as proof that you’re right: “See? No one is visiting/subscribing/buying. That means it’s good that we cut our content budget.”
- Panic is a cereal killer.
Businesses that make smart, well-considered moves during hard times do more than survive— they thrive. Instead of cutting back on marketing as the Great Depression hit , Kellogg took this opportunity to double its ad budget. The pre-depression top dog, Post, decided to cut expenses and run out the clock. Kellogg came out on top, and Post has never fully recovered.
- You have less competition now.
When everyone else is retrenching, you have a clear shot at the goal. The biggest downfall of content is how much there is of it. Consumers have been overwhelmed with content, leading to businesses “feeding the content machine” just to keep up. Now, though, with your competitors cutting their content marketing budgets, you have a chance to stand out and capture market share.
- Content marketing is a long game.
We strive for consistency and regularity in our content to solidify our brands in the minds of consumers and to build brand loyalty. This takes time, and we’re good with that; it’s part of the game. So what happens when you’ve finally built up that coveted audience of advocates—and you stop producing the content they’ve come to rely on you for?
- The stats about the importance of content marketing are still true.
- Content marketing gets three times more leads per dollar spent than paid search advertising.3
- Conversion rates are nearly six times higher for content marketing adopters than non-adopters.4
- 72% of B2B content marketers attributed their improved performance over the year before to their content strategy.5
- The beginning (and middle) of the journey matters, too.
When businesses cut their content budgets, they’re typically thinking of the end of the buying process: their customers aren’t in a position to buy their product or service right now, so why spend money on marketing to them?
But the beauty of content marketing is that it focuses on all stages of the buyer’s journey. When your prospects are sheltering at home and researching the trip they’re hoping to take in November, or learning about workflow management solutions for when their business rebounds, you want your content to be what they find.
- This, too, shall pass.
Where do you want to be when all this is over?
We don’t know what the marketplace will look like, but one thing we know for sure is that we want to be a part of it.
Now is the perfect time to focus on content marketing so your brand will come out on top.
3 Ways to Double Down on Content Without Busting Your Budget
- Revamp your now-irrelevant content.
During the coronavirus crisis, you may have a content calendar full of content that now seems irrelevant or inappropriate—and it’s already been created, laid out, and scheduled to go.
Try re-angling these to be more relevant for today. For example, a real estate brand’s article about how to create a comfy guest suite might turn into an article on how to create a cozy sanctuary for sheltering at home. A retail software brand’s guide to the in-store customer experience can be reslanted for the essential shops that are open now, with an eye toward improving the in-store CX during the crisis.
Can’t re-angle the content? Then mine it for any relevant bits you can chunk down for social media, email newsletters, and so on.
- Get more value from your existing content assets.
Repurposing your content lets you squeeze more value out of your existing content assets—and even in the best of times, recycling content is a budget-friendly way to reach more prospects. For example:
- Reoptimize evergreen blog posts and repost them as new. (Update facts and stats, optimize tags for SEO, add/change SEO keywords, update links, add new internal links.)
- Add copy to blog header images to make them usable for Pinterest, Instagram, etc.
- Recycle unsuccessful press releases/media pitches.
- Revise print articles around SEO keywords and reformat as blog posts.
- Convert a list article into several pieces of new content. (One for each point.)
- Edit interviews you conducted with experts for print articles into Q&A-style blog posts/LinkedIn posts.
- Post compelling quotes from sources to social media, with links back to the article/post.
- Combine groups of articles on similar topics into a downloadable e-book.
- Turn articles/posts into podcasts. (Record them as is, use the topics as a jumping-off point for a podcast idea, or interview your expert sources for the podcast.)
- Convert tips and stats from articles into infographics and quizzes.
- Trim down articles and posts to use as email newsletter articles.
All these suggestions can be implemented quickly, and at a lower cost than developing content from scratch.
- Outsource your content strategy & development.
Pay for only what you need, when you need it, with an outside content team. For example, a small, flexible content studio can help you strategize your content repurposing…be on standby until you need them to execute on that strategy…and then bring a fresh perspective to your content development.
We’ll end with a famous (and very relevant) quote:
“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
We will get through this. Whether our brands come through weaker or stronger depends on whether we react—or act.
Travelling towards the future is unavoidable.
The march of time means that, sooner or later, we’ll end up in a world unrecognisable to modern eyes.
But what shape it takes is in our control.
Whether we get a technological utopia or a bleak dystopia will depend upon how we approach the world.
Fortunately, digital transformation companies I’ve worked with are working to make that world better.
By helping traditional companies transform themselves for the digital age, they’re not just dragging the economy into the future, but helping to ensure that it’s a positive future.
One of the biggest global problems is the digital divide.
The digital divide is something more profound than just a question of whether or not you have access to the internet.
It is now a question of whether you can benefit from digital technology.
The regions that are most affected by the digital divide are those provincial areas whose workforce and communities are most impacted by automation and e-commerce.
People might have lost their jobs to automation and their local community may have seen its downtown decimated by e-commerce.
They’re being left behind.
And, as we have seen with Brexit, Donald Trump, Italy, Poland, Hungary and Brazil, people that feel excluded turn to extreme politics.
If people feel like they can’t affect the world around them then they become disenchanted, fearful, and angry.
That makes them vulnerable to the lure of far-right populist demagogues, men and women who take hold of that frustration, stir it up into rage, and use it to target vulnerable groups.
It’s an ugly way to gain power, but it’s one we’re seeing far too often, one that’s playing out on every continent. It’s the same sort of politics that Europe saw in the 1930s, when social, religious, and racial minorities were blamed for Europe’s problems, leading to rule by horrifying regimes.
Digital transformation can help to counter those trends.
Modern technology is designed to be empowering.
From the free flow of information to the ability to access services online, it makes it easier for people to have their voices heard and to shape the world around them.
When it’s done right, it leaves people feeling in control of their lives.
That’s why digital transformation is so important.
Both for people running businesses and for people accessing their services, it smooths out the bumps that can cause frustrations, large and small.
It helps people to engage with their world, and so not to feel the disenfranchisement that fuels hate.
They can access government services as well as those provided by the private sector. They can book the appointments they need, find the services that will help them, and raise complaints when things go wrong.
The digital world is one that enfranchises its citizens.
Extremists thrive on division, and technology, when implemented correctly, helps to overcome those divisions. It can be used to show people the world from others’ points of view, letting them see how much others are like themselves.
Blog posts and YouTube videos might seem like small things, but in aggregate they become huge.
Studies have shown that exposure to a variety of backgrounds and cultures helps to build empathy. Once that empathy is built, it’s harder to hate. We don’t see other groups as so different to us. Instead, we focus on the ways that we’re alike.
Technology is building a more interconnected world, and that’s a good influence.
Businesses now work with clients around the globe. People socialise with others from every walk of life, through the great talking shop of social media.
While that space can be used to polarise and stir up hate, when it’s done right, it can make us more connected to others, more invested in them, more reliant upon them.
When our own lives involve entertainment and products from around the world, we’re less likely to turn our backs on other countries. It’s in our best interest to stay connected and to stay cooperative.
Technology doesn’t just make that possible, it makes it visible. Yes, there are politicians trying to turn back that tide, but the results are already creating backlashes against them. We love our interconnected lives.
All of this feeds into what the world most needs right now – stability.
The more secure and stable people’s lives are, the less vulnerable they are to the extremists.
People who feel secure, politically, socially, and financially, behave in ways that are more considerate of others. Because they’re not worried about how they can get by, they’re not pushed towards selfishness out of fear and anxiety.
In a more immediate sense, digital transformation saves jobs.
Companies that can’t keep up with the modern world will fail, leaving employees feeling bitter and looking for someone to blame.
Digital transformation consultants can help traditional businesses look at their future with fresh eyes. They can help them visualise new products that will enable them to make the leap into the future.
If we can help these companies transform and flourish in the modern world, then we save employees from a shock that could leave them vulnerable to extremists.
The world can be a scary place and fear pushes people to extremes.
But through the power of digital transformation, we can bring people together, protect prosperity, and avoid hate.
Why your copy and content should entertain as well as educate.
There’s no denying it, I’ve been around a bit.
In the previous 20 years before I started The Copy Bear, I was a journalist for Reuters, The Times and, er, the Daily Mail (the money was good and I had children to feed – let’s move on).
While at The Times I was sent on assignment to interview pop stars in cities such as Tokyo, L.A., New York, Paris and Athens.
I mixed with famous musicians (someday I’ll tell you the story about being kidnapped by Depeche Mode) and was party to some outrageous behaviour – some of it NOT mine.
It was a hugely glamorous life. I loved it. My stories made the front pages of newspapers and I was interviewed on TV. I was, for a little while, a well-known writer.
But I am a much better writer now than I was then. I look back at some of the pieces I wrote, pieces that were praised to the skies and I just don’t get it.
Yes, it was ‘sexy’ subject matter. But so much of it was so dry.
The sentences were too formal and long and there was little in the way of light or shade.
I was relying on my readers’ intense interest in the subject of my pieces.
I was so into music myself that I couldn’t imagine that there was anyone who wasn’t similarly enthralled by pop.
So, I made no attempt to hook the merely curious reader.
OK, so I would occasionally embellish the narrative with a little ‘colour’, as it’s often called by journalists.
But describing Michael Stipe’s new haircut or grizzling about the storms in Moscow only allowed an already self-important writer to unleash the pen of purple prose.
‘Colour’ doesn’t move the story on. ‘Colour’ doesn’t engage.
It was all dreadfully serious.
I’m quite a funny chap but reading some of the turgid blah I wrote 10 years ago, you honestly wouldn’t think it.
I really did think the sun shone out of my behind.
The reason I’m reminded me of my rockstar days was that I was in a debate last week with another content marketer.
We were at a startup event and he was complaining to me that his ROI was suffering.
He revealed his content tactics.
He’s always felt that his audience only needed the facts.
He lays out the science, supporting his position thoroughly with stacks of detailed documentation.
In forensic, plain, detail he explains things from all angles.
His copy is drier than a toasted sand sandwich.
Once he’d finished bemoaning his luck, I suggested he inject some humour into his copy.
Shorten his sentences.
Add a little dazzle.
Failing that, have an opinion.
Don’t be all things to all men.
Take a stand.
But he didn’t like that advice. Called me ‘flashy’ and ‘showbizzy’.
He thought instead that maybe that he needed more facts, more detail.
When I failed to swallow a giggle, he flounced off.
He reminded me of myself a decade ago. Self-important and unwilling to lighten up.
When you’re blogging for your business, you often have big, important things to say to your audience.
You’re offering them relief from their pain points. You’re helping them.
But they’re never going to read your content if it’s dull. Add some wit and style to your content and people will be drawn in.
With knowledge of the issues and a goal to persuade, you can write funny, witty, punchy posts that favour subtle substance over dry facts.
And people will be engaged.
As Roxette once said, “Don’t bore us – get to the chorus.”
(And, no, Roxette were never unfortunate enough to be interviewed by me.)