5 tips for creating content during an infodemic
In an age of misinformation and eroding trust, businesses must rise to the challenge of demonstrating their value to customers, employees and society.
What makes you trust a particular organisation or brand? The quality of their products or services? The after-sales service? The way they communicate with you? Their efforts to improve the environment or tackle other societal issues? Maybe all of the above.
Start and end with what the customer wants
Understanding consumer buying behaviour and being visible at the point of need is getting tougher. Not least because the customer journey is at odds with the traditional marketing funnel – it's not linear. It's a complex mix of self-education (researching, testing) and shifting needs: buying 'greener', buying less, shopping online vs in-store for example.
In fact, according to Gartner, sales teams only have 5% of a customer's time during their B2B buying journey.
Businesses must be relentlessly helpful in supporting customers to make their buying decisions. This means giving them the right information, when and where they need it.
Producing high quality content is harder than ever
The pandemic has eroded trust in governments and societal institutions all around the world. Consumers, hungry for information and assistance, demand more from businesses and brands. Misinformation continues to feed people's distrust of governments and news sources. This perfect storm has led to a profusion of low quality content that doesn't cut through the noise, it just adds to it.
But, as the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer shows, there's some good news for business. From the four institutions they studied, business came top of the list as the most trusted, followed by NGOs, government, and media. And it's the only institution seen as both ethical and competent.
So, how can businesses capitalise on this strength of feeling and create exceptionally helpful content that will keep customers engaged?
1. Start with your audience
How well do you know the people you’re targeting? What problems do you solve for them? Do you know what motivates them? Organisations often make assumptions or sweeping generalisations about their customers and other stakeholders. Do your audience research, then create personas of your ideal target customers. I like this article from the Content Marketing Institute which advocates using the ‘jobs-to-be-done’ theory to build the ultimate audience persona profile.
2. Communicate with empathy
Showing empathy means that you understand the challenges, pain points and fears that occupy your customers' minds. It creates a deeper connection between you and the people you serve.
3. Position yourself as a thought leader
This is a long-term strategy that will help you to build credibility and trust over time. Showcase your expertise by sharing insights, research and data. Curate high quality third party content that's relevant to your customers. But don't use thought leadership to sell. Focus on solutions – ask: "how does this content help our customers and the problems they're looking to solve?"
4. Content, then channel
Just because you have an impressive suite of communication channels at your disposal doesn’t mean you have to use them all. I know from experience that it’s easy to fall into the trap of deciding what to do for ‘x’ or ‘y’ channel. For example, it’s not uncommon for marketers and comms professionals to feel pressurised into using particular tactics to satisfy an internal stakeholder. (How you deal with that challenge is a topic for another day!)
This is why starting with your audience or customer (whichever noun works for your organisation) is critical. It helps you to filter out the low-value activities or ‘pet projects’ that threaten to derail your priorities. Map out the customer journey and see where the points of need are.
5. Recycle your content
One piece of content can be repurposed for multiple channels, therefore increasing your reach. For example, pull out the key messages from a blog and turn them into social media posts. Refresh old content to make it relevant. Look at your most popular content (tools like Google Analytics can help with this) and decide whether it needs to be brought up to date. Update the keywords and SEO for your content – it'll make it easier to find on search engines.
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