What coronavirus and a cowboy can teach us about great marketing

The COVID-19 pandemic has put many of our members in a difficult position. With the public in lockdown and traditional advertising largely unavailable, connecting with your customers requires a new approach.

This is not the time to scale back on marketing–out of sight still means out of mind–but taking this time to consider how and where you’re focusing efforts will pay dividends in the long run.

One of the best ways our members can connect with audiences during this uncertain time is through content marketing. It’s cost-effective, flexible, and thrives in our current all-digital, all-the-time environment. It can also grow your brand exposure and translate to huge financial success…if you take the right approach.

So what’s the “right approach”? To paraphrase Avinash Kaushik, great content is something that provides value to your audience, and great marketing is getting that content in front of the right people. Balancing both parts of this binary is the ticket to a successful content marketing strategy.

Good content is about your customer’s needs, not your own. Ask yourself what they are missing in this new reality. What needs do they have? Then ask yourself, where does my organization’s purpose intersect with those needs?

This probably won’t look like business as usual. Think less “20% off app development” and more “free learning resources for isolated kids”. Less of a push to buy your services and more blogs about what actually drives your industry. The goal is not to drive sales, but to be useful.

Then you need to get that content in front of the right people, and right now that means making the most of your digital channels. Forget paid events and traditional ads; websites, social media, blogs, email – these are now the cornerstones of a strong marketing strategy.

It doesn’t have to cost a lot to do this well. Consider the National Cowboy Museum in Oklahoma: The pandemic has forced museums around the world to shut down. Some large institutions responded with high-quality video tours or online lectures, but the NCM took a more low-cost approach and simply gave their twitter feed over to their head of security.

Regardless of whether Security Tim’s tweets are genuine or the brainchild of a brilliant marketing team, it’s a great example of effective content marketing. The Museum looked at what its potential customers needed right now (entertainment, an escape, something comforting and safe) and what their organization believes in (sharing interesting stories and artifacts related to cowboy culture). They put the two together and created something authentic to their brand and value to their audience. The result? They are successfully sharing their story while building a devoted fan base that can’t wait to visit as soon as their doors reopen.

Covid-19 has already had a lasting impact on every industry, including tech. We’re in a new reality and the old methods we relied on for connecting with our customers may not work anymore.

Content marketing isn’t just a stop-gap. It’s an opportunity to focus on developing authentic, customer-focused pieces and sharing them via a smart digital strategy. The organizations that do both well can build relationships that outlast our current uncertainty and lay the foundation for a stronger future.

Want to learn more about communicating during this crisis? Join us for next week’s Water Cooler Wednesdays where we’ll be joined by members of Winnipeg agency Full Current and other special guests to discuss all your COVID-related marketing questions.