These are strange times indeed.
As I write this, I’m sitting in my home office, because my employer – like so many others across the country and world – is doing what it can to help stop the spread of COVID-19. This is the type of event that casts new light on just about everything, including the topic I’d planned to tackle today.
No business wants to act or appear opportunistic right now. That goes without saying. But the truth is that marketers, brands, and creators of all kinds can make a positive difference. Being legitimately and authentically helpful in a moment like this can have a lasting impact.
With personal interactions and physical proximity being minimized, people will turn to the web more than ever for trusted sources of information and meaningful content experiences. It’s worth thinking about what role you and your brand can play.
The Show Must Go On
As I mentioned in one of my earliest blog contributions after joining TopRank Marketing, I have a side hobby outside of my career in marketing: running a Minnesota Twins baseball community site. With this passion playing such a big role in my life, it goes without saying that I’m feeling affected by the sudden and indefinite absence of baseball, at a time where the sport’s lengthy season is normally just getting underway.
I recognize, of course, that in the grand scheme of all that’s happening, this is small potatoes. It’s a game. But it’s also a source of comfort and routine for me and so many others. And the bottom line is that while Major League Baseball’s schedule will not proceed, life will. And this applies more broadly to businesses and content creators across the spectrum.
As our CEO Lee Odden wrote recently with regards to marketing during the COVID-19 pandemic, “the need for information and solutions might slow or change but not stop.”
Let’s explore how brands can go all-in on authenticity to strengthen bonds during a time of universal uncertainty and anxiety.
“Marketers, brands, and creators of all kinds can make a positive difference. Being legitimately and authentically helpful in a moment like this can have a lasting impact.” @NickNelsonMN Click To Tweet
Building Trust through Authentic and Altruistic Content
Content marketing is inherently a long game, focused on building relationships first and foremost. Right now, the best way to pursue this goal is through authenticity and altruism, in the context of your business and its audience.
Keep Your Audience Informed
The ongoing pandemic affects different industries and verticals in different ways. If there’s a white space for providing news and updates in the niche you serve specifically, you might consider filling it. Curate news from authoritative sources (like the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and make it available in an easily accessible place.
This is also a great time to provide helpful guidance around adjustments and adaptations being made in response to this situation. For example, our clients at Antea Group leveraged their expertise on the subject of employee health and safety to provide ergonomic tips for a home office. Another client, LinkedIn Sales Solutions, served up advice on staying connected digitally when “in-person” is not an option.
Be Open and Human
We talk about authenticity in B2B marketing frequently because it’s so vital for practitioners to constantly remind themselves that we’re not interacting with businesses, we’re interacting with human beings. COVID-19 presents a universally shared human experience on a scale that is unmatched in many of our lifetimes.
There’s never been a better time to open up and share real, relatable stories. Everyone is going through something, and it can be comforting to learn how others are dealing with the unique circumstances brought on by this scenario.
Focus on Connection
Thanks to technology, distancing doesn’t need to equate to isolation. People are likely to be yearning for social connection in a major way. The simplest thing a company can do is place an emphasis on being accessible and responsive via social media, email, and other channels. But you also might consider finding ways to replicate the dynamic of personal interactions. For example:
- Webinars & Live-Streaming: It can sometimes be difficult to draw big crowds of busy professionals for a live broadcast, but at a time where traveling and in-person meetings are reduced, there are more openings on calendars. Running a webcast with a theme that’s relevant to the current times might hit a sweet spot.
- Virtual Networking Events: With so many major conferences and summits being canceled, there’s still a need for people to network and grow. This may present an opportunity to host or participate in online gatherings and meet-ups. One thing worth considering is a virtual happy hour, where people flip on their laptop camera, crack open a beverage, and enjoy a genuine chat from their own respective locations.
“At a time where traveling and in-person meetings are reduced, there are more openings on calendars. Running a webcast with a theme that’s relevant to the current times might hit a sweet spot.” @NickNelsonMN Click To Tweet
Stick to Your Strategy
Understandably, it can be weird to think about selling at this moment. Pushing products and services – especially those that might be deemed “non-essential” in the face of a global health crisis – feels tone-deaf at a time where everyone’s attention is pulled toward the headlines. I get it.
But here’s the unavoidable truth: This ordeal isn’t going away anytime soon. Life will be different for a while, and as we acclimate to a new norm, the drumbeat of business will regain its steady rhythm in most spaces. So it’s important to keep a holistic, integrated, full-funnel strategy in place, even if you’re lessening the conversion emphasis temporarily.
One thing many companies will want to ponder is how they can make it easier to digitally purchase and transact.
Into Unknown Territory
There is no playbook for this. Every person, family, and business is treading new ground. But we’re all going through it together and that’s why it is more valuable than ever to let our authenticity shine through.
“The friend in my adversity I shall always cherish most. I can better trust those who helped to relieve the gloom of my dark hours than those who are ready to enjoy with me the sunshine of prosperity.” – Ulysses S. Grant