Our new blog series, ‘WTF Do We Do Now? Business in the Time of Corona,’ explores the question business leaders all over the world are asking right now: how do we keep our businesses going—and growing—during a crisis? This week, our CEO Tom Stirling explains why doubling down on content is one of the best things you can do for your brand.
The world is craving content.
What is your target audience doing right now? Chances are, they are very, very receptive to hearing from you. Here’s why.
A recent Hubspot survey found that since early March:
- Website traffic is up 13%
- Marketing email open rates are up 25%
- Mobile engagement is down and desktop engagement is up.
The meaning for marketers? It means you have more: more of an audience with more time on their hands looking for more things to consume.
The question is, how do you capitalize on this?
Give your audience what they want: content that answers their questions.
In the case of consumers during Coronavirus, the highest quality content does one thing: answers peoples’ questions. More specifically, it provides information and resources that are going to help your target audience solve a problem or meet a unique need. What does this look like in practice? Whitepapers, how-to guides, educational blogs, video series and more are all fantastic ways to answer a burning question your audience has.
Our days are filled with uncertainty. It’s hard enough to figure out how to plan for tomorrow—let alone next week or next month. If your business can provide even a sliver of certainty, just a dash of concrete information that helps your audience get through their day with a little more knowledge, then you’re doing the right thing. You’re not only forging deeper relationships with your customers, you’re letting them know that your brand can be a trusted source for information.
So where to begin? Here are four steps for building out a content strategy.
Step 1: Research your audience’s biggest needs.
While you may have had a strong handle on exactly what your audience is looking for two months ago, it’s likely that their core needs have changed. That’s why your first task is to determine what your audience’s biggest needs are now.
Luckily, there are answers all around you. Here are a few places to look:
- What keywords are your audiences searching out on Google?
- What questions are they asking on Reddit and Quora?
- What are your sales reps hearing in conversations with your clients?
Every time you capture and document this information, you are arming yourself with knowledge about how to best reach your prospects. It takes time, energy, and effort, but putting in the work now to learn exactly what they’re looking for will enable you to craft a content strategy that speaks directly to what they want.
Step 2: Determine what to teach them—and how.
Based on your audiences’ needs, what do you want to teach them? At Stirling, for example, we’re helping small banks and credit unions figure out what financial information their members need the most, then providing it to them through weekly blogs and emails.
The second consideration here is how to present your content. Here are a few ideas:
- Longform blogs can share a wealth of information and resources.
- Emails are a great way to reach your existing client-base with timely info.
- Whitepapers can go deep into industry-specific expertise to prove your product’s value.
Not enough time to create this content yourself? This is a great moment to think about external partners. While your internal team may be able to create some of this content, an outbound marketing partner with experience planning and crafting content like this may ultimately save you time and resources.
Step 3: Build the calendar and start producing.
Once you know the topics you want to cover and the formats you want to cover them in, it’s time to build a lightweight, editorial calendar—a content calendar—that outlines the content you’re going to produce and when you’re going to produce it.
This calendar is your content strategy bible. It will keep your team accountable. It will help everyone plan in advance. It will enable you to set a long-term, strategic vision for your brand.
Once you’ve plotted out your calendar, get your team to work and start producing the content you’ve planned.
Step 4: Track. Report. Repeat.
Last, and most critically, track and measure everything you do. From Google Analytics to third-party platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn, we all have the tools at our disposal to track engagement on every piece of content we publish.
Reporting on your content performance on a monthly or quarterly basis will help you and your clients understand what’s working and what’s not. It gives you benchmarks to measure future content performance against. If you analyze it properly, it will tell you what to improve so that next month’s content performs even better.
Don’t Go Dark. Start a Fire.
It’s understandable that many businesses would instinctively ‘go dark’ right now—giving in to knee-jerk reactions, shutting down marketing channels, and trying to wait out this crisis. But, as we learned in the 2008 financial crisis, failing to fuel your brand and address customers’ changing needs will deeply hurt your business.
Now is the time to start a “content fire.” Produce bold, thought-provoking content for your customers and prospects. It’s the best way to engage them now and the best way to set your business up for long-term success.
Get your content strategy up and running.
Need help thinking through a content strategy for your brand? Looking for ways to get it done? I’d love to help however I can. Shoot me an email at [email protected] or give me a call 781-369-5154. Let’s see what we can build together.
This is Part 3 of Stirling Brandworks’ ongoing series ‘WTF Do We Do Now? Business in the Time of Corona.’ Check out Part 2 on choosing smart marketing investments. And look out for more observations on the business world as we navigate these unfamiliar times.
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