Why content must be your biggest marketing investment
The COVID-19 pandemic brought into sharp focus the role of content marketing in building a successful brand.
The early stages of the pandemic was a boom time for content producers. As consumers gravitated towards online channels for information and shopping essentials, businesses were grappling with their own logistics and the urgency of what to communicate, to whom, when and how.
I recall the flurry of emails from companies at the start of lockdown, telling me how they were supporting me during COVID-19. But they weren’t able to replace my lost business or entertain my relentlessly-energetic two year old son while I tried to work. That’s the kind of support I really needed.
I’m being facetious of course, but here’s the point I want to make: some of the emails felt forced and carried an air of inauthenticity that made me roll my eyes.
Embracing the crisis has helped some brands to build trust
Many brands have been working hard to do right by their customers while navigating a complex mix of government mandates, scenario-planning, workforce management and employee wellbeing.
Those businesses that have embraced the crisis and put their customers’ needs first have been able to grow their reputation. Others – the ones that attempted to cash-in on it or fell way short of customer expectations – have undermined trust in their brand.
The latest research from Edelman backs this up, with 40% of people saying that they have convinced other people to stop using a brand because they felt it was not acting appropriately in response to the pandemic.
As consumers, we hold brands to account. And the pandemic has demonstrated just how important it is for brands to work hard to build trust. Indeed, trust is second only to price when it comes to the brand attributes that consumers base their buying decisions on.¹
Create content that is helpful, informative and empathetic
This is why a well thought-through content marketing strategy is essential for any organisation or business that interacts with its customers via email or online.
The purpose of content marketing is to develop an ongoing relationship with your customers (through email, social media, blogs, vlogs, podcasts, paid advertising, SEO). It’s a term that wasn’t part of the marketing vocabulary when my career began over 20 years ago. Technology has since transformed the way we communicate and do business, and content marketing has evolved to keep apace.
Today, digital channels account for almost 80% of marketing budgets², which puts content at the core of your marketing strategy.
But what is good content?
It must be super helpful and solve a problem for the customer. Show empathy. During the pandemic, supermarkets were sending weekly updates to customers, setting out the practical steps they were taking to keep customers and staff safe.
Brands must also demonstrate how they are addressing societal needs, like reducing their impact on the environment, and tackling racial inequality.
The Black Lives Matter movement is a case in point. The murder of George Floyd sparked a series of protests around the world, calling for an end to police violence. It caused brands to speak out against racial injustice.
Social unrest and global challenges are driving consumers to put pressure on brands to be good citizens. Consumer behaviour is shifting and marketing strategies must adapt accordingly.
Identify the pain points that have the most impact on your customers and build your content marketing strategy around them. Demonstrate – by showing, not telling – the value you create for your customers and the wider community.
Build trust through your content marketing strategy.
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¹ 2020 Edelman Special Report: Brand Trust in 2020