It’s clear by now that COVID-19 is having a significant impact on communities across the globe. One implication of this fact is that businesses large and small are having to pivot their marketing strategies, adjusting for realities like canceled events, smaller budgets from decreasing revenue, and the inability to collaborate in person for the foreseeable future.
This article isn’t a one-stop-shop to fix all of those problems. What it is, though, is guidance about how to tackle the crucial first step of assessing your existing plan—salvaging the parts that will still be effective and cutting the parts that aren’t worth the investment.
Let’s get started.
Examine Your Pre-Planned Content
First, it’s absolutely essential that you go through any content or outreach you had scheduled for the next several months. Many companies work on blog content and social posts weeks or months in advance, and then schedule them to post automatically down the line. In a crisis like the one we’re experiencing now, this approach means that content that gets published as scheduled could be irrelevant at best and tone-deaf and disrespectful at worst.
If you’re one of the many companies that uses this approach to getting content out there, take the time right away to sift through whatever you have coming in the next several weeks. Delete the posts that won’t resonate in today’s environment, update any captions that won’t be well-received, and generally assess whether the content you had planned is still appropriate. In all likelihood, some of it won’t be, and that’s okay. It’s better to eliminate that content altogether than to try to find a way to force it.
Assess the Content That’s Left
Once that step is completed, you’ll probably have a better idea of what your existing content marketing strategy will look like for the next few weeks and months. This is the time to ask yourself some questions:
- Is my strategy as it stands today still effective?
- What gaps do I now have that need to be filled?
- Are there any content ideas we just scrapped that could be repurposed?
- How can I deliver value to my audience without disrespecting the reality of COVID-19?
Adjust Distribution Strategies and Fill Content Gaps
If your pre-planned strategy is still largely effective, great! Maybe think about the ways you could add to it or tailor the distribution strategies to a digital audience. For example, channels like connected TV are seeing higher engagement during this time. There may be a more effective distribution channel available today than the one you originally planned.
On the other hand, if you’re missing critical pieces of content, take a look back at the ideas you had to scrap. What value were they delivering for your audience? We’ll use a fictional example to make this point clearer.
Let’s say Lemonlight had a post scheduled about how to travel in order to scout locations for a production. Given the social-distancing measures that most of the globe is practicing, the idea of promoting an article about travel seems irresponsible. But the goal of the article might have been to help people feel more empowered to assess an effective shoot location.
To fill that same purpose with COVID-19 limitations in mind, we might write a new article about how to find the perfect shoot location within your own home or backyard. We’re filling the same basic need for our audience without pretending like we’re not in the middle of a pandemic.
You can go through this exercise for any piece of content you decided to eliminate. Think about what the intended takeaway was for the reader, and assess whether you can deliver that same value with a new piece of content that resonates more directly with today’s situation.
Test New Content Approaches
Finally, this is a great time to experiment with new content marketing tactics that you haven’t tried in the past. Because so many businesses are working remotely and spending more time on digital devices, you have a captive audience with which to test new strategies. Maybe try your hand at live-streaming, or make an infographic, or explore a new social channel (might we suggest trying a TikTok challenge?).
The stakes are relatively low, as almost everyone is finding themselves in uncharted territory when it comes to marketing. If you try something and it fails, no big deal! Plus, now you have invaluable information about audience engagement that you can use in the future. By trying new things, you get to know your audience and its needs more closely, and your content will be stronger as a result.
To recap, here are the four ways we suggest you salvage your 2020 content marketing plan:
- Go through all pre-prepared content and delete or alter anything that will be insensitive or irrelevant in today’s cultural environment.
- Assess the content you have left and decide whether it still makes up a holistic strategy.
- Fill in any content gaps with new content. If you were forced to delete much of your content in step #1, brainstorm ways you could deliver the same value with a new piece of content.
- Try something new! The stakes are low and audiences are digitally-engaged, so don’t be afraid to use this time to get out of your content comfort zone.
There you have it! We’ll be posting additional content over the coming days and weeks to do a deeper-dive into where you go from here. But, with these steps covered, your updated strategy will be off to a good start.