Tuesday 2¢: The COVID we already did

There is lots of advice for marketers to navigate the current crisis, a lot of which is just common content marketing sense. In this Tuesday 2¢, I list 10 examples.


I’m reading a lot of articles and listening to podcasts that are giving excellent marketing advice couched in the context of COVID. Of course, if you are a dispensary of marketing advice, it is the law to reference corona.

Meanwhile, many execution marketers, who were happy on their hamster wheels, have had to stop the activity for the sake of activity and think. So, there is plenty of demand for COVID content in a rare moment of lockdown reflection.

But if stripped of their corona reference, much of what I am reading and hearing stands up as just good practice, irrespective of the current world events.

Here are some examples of what I’ve come across recently:

1. Virtual selling.

Now I can only talk from a B2B perspective, but it’s already widely discussed that a prospective buyer is well into the buying journey and touching a lot of content before talking to a sales guy.

How much content a prospect has consumed on their journey is a proven indicator of the rate of close. The only thing that has changed under COVID is that the conversation at the end part of the customer journey is now virtual.

Marketing is virtual selling.

2. Marketing with empathy.

Hallelujah brother! If we are coming around to the point of realization that COVID or no COVID, a 1% response rate on whatever automated carpet-bombing run you undertake means 99% of people didn’t like what you threw at them, I’m in.

3. Marketing with empathy 2.

The B2B buyer is human and has emotions, and it could be a time of stress for them. Again sensitivity to how emotional a significant B2B transaction could be for the buyer is evergreen and virus free advice.

4. Being authentic.

….

I’ll just leave that there.

5. Being useful.

This is probably the number 1 piece of advice I am seeing alongside having empathy. And, of course, having empathy and being useful go hand in hand as they both require some insight into the audience.

If you take a moment to think about how what you have to say about you, your product or service could be useful to someone else, that’s just good content marketing all day, every day.

6. Virtual events as a content channel.

Absolutely! Events have long time been a fixed, mandatory sideshow in marketing that has often been ignored as a first-class content marketing channel.

The switch to virtual has marketers thinking differently about events, what are they for, and how to make the most of them. Personally, I hope we get back to in-person events, but perhaps we understand that doing an event is not an outcome; it is a channel for achieving a goal.

Which leads me to:

7. Asking why?

Oh, this is my favorite. It’s being mentioned now as we worry about marketing budgets, the sensitivities of the consumer, and if we should be marketing at all right now. But, this should already be the first question a marketer asks, get off the hamster wheel and ask “why” and “who cares”.

8. People have time to read.

I’m seeing this in various forms, an inference that folks in lockdown are suddenly going to spend more time reading your shit as it was only the lack of time that stopped them reading it before.

I don’t necessarily think this is true; if your content doesn’t tick some of the boxes above, they won’t care and would prefer to stare at the wallpaper or home school their kids some more.

I believe that if people are into you, investing in a purchasing decision, they will make time for good content, lockdown, or not. Buyers always have time to read the good stuff.

9. Plans, goals, and metrics.

I am lumping these together, random acts of marketing don’t move the needle, it just moves the CMO aside while the C suite hires a Chief Growth Officer.

Marketing should be an agile portfolio of long term and short term investments that deliver a return that the board cares about: Growth (or as I bang on about ART).

10. Long term brand impact.

Quite rightly, marketing commentators are saying what a brand does now will be remembered, but this sounds like sensible brand advice any time when delivering on a brand promise. Remember the airline that broke that dude’s guitar. That was over 10 years ago.

Now, of course, all of these things very appropriately amped up to 11 right now as we all feel we have a sensitive consumer, facing uncertainty, and none of this is a bad thing. In fact, I could have written this as “10 things we learned from COVID”, but come on, they are really just good content marketing.

It’s the COVID we already did.