The market is tanking, there’s a war in Europe, the U.S. is riven with political rancor, lockdowns in China once again threaten international supply chains and gas is five bucks a gallon. We might all be excused for feeling a little on edge — especially since this litany of worldwide woes caps two-plus years of deadly pandemic.
Meanwhile, you sell makeup. Or pickup trucks. Or mortgages. Or burgers. Your company’s content program could seem like the least of your marketing worries in this environment.
But that would be a grave misjudgment of the role that content marketing can — and should — play in your relationship with your customer. In a volatile world, it’s more important than ever to create touch points, to find one more way to let people know that your products and your ethos grow out of your understanding of what matters to them. It’s also an opportune time to make sure that your content is an expression of your company’s values. And the best way to convey that complex set of ideas is through content marketing.
But fraught times call for thoughtful messaging. Here are four ways to make sure your content helps your brand while feeling appropriate for the moment.
Acknowledge the Obvious
The goal here isn’t to distract your prospects and customers. The goal is to place your offering in the current context — to position yourself naturally, and positively, in the conversations that everyone is having anyway. While there’s no need for your content to nod to every blip in your newsfeed, ignoring major trends or national (or regional) moments jeopardizes customers’ perception of the authenticity of the voice and intent of your content program. Inflation is in all the headlines, and you had to raise prices more than usual? Make sure your content acknowledges it. Does the stock market’s volatility have your best customers reconsidering big purchases? Create content that encourages them to be thoughtful and assures them that you’re there to answer any questions.
Be True to Yourself
Every brand has a tone of voice and range of topics that customers and prospects will accept as being relevant to their relationship with that brand — those that are extensions of the kinds of products, expertise and values that your brand represents. So content addressing tough topics or acknowledging an unsettled environment has to tie back to the subjects you think your customers are prepared to hear from you on. Even a candy company, for example, that may seem at first glance to have no business talking about, say, the war in Ukraine, might gracefully do so if their content talks about the spontaneous, sweet moments of respite their products provide.
Positioning your company within the swirl of current events and complex trends requires a delicate touch. One way to address a potentially fraught environment is through stories that take the reader or viewer on a narrative journey — one that humanizes both the topic and your company’s place in relation to it. Showing how individual people’s lives intersect with a topic is far more interesting than corporate policies or pronouncements.
Respect Your Customer
Finally, don’t talk down to your clients and prospects. If you have a content program, you’re already presuming a relationship with the people who buy — or whom you want to buy — your product or service. Your content is talking to them, and as you talk, you want them nodding along. This goes for content in any environment but is doubly important when you’re asking your consumer for their thoughtful attention.
Interested in re-evaluating your strategy? Want to learn more? Get in touch! We'd love to hear from you.
Josh Lerman, Executive Director, Financial Content & Strategy, Foundry360 @ Dotdash Meredith, has been writing, editing, and thinking about content for over 30 years. He's enjoyed creating content for brands that include Merrill Lynch, Marriott, American Express, Lincoln, Bank of America, BBVA Compass, and Smith Barney, and is pretty sure that quality is SEO.