Yesterday I took part in a brilliant podcast recording with an enthusiastic young marketer. We talked at length about how marketing had changed since I first became a writer, how millennials expectations were shaping marketing and how we both felt that content still had a place.
I remember vividly that when I first became a writer, ‘content is king’ was often bandied around. It wasn’t debated but universally agreed that if you wanted to rank well on Google, you needed a lot of content. Then came Doug Kessler’s valid retort, alleging that content was *overwhelmingly* a load of crap. After that, marketing budgets for content tightened. Freelance writers found themselves at the mercy of dirt-cheap options on Fiverr, and content seemed less and less valuable.
Then came 2020. The year that no-one expected, that turned so many industries and lives upside down. Those of us who are fortunate enough to have internet access and the ability to work from home found ourselves increasingly driven online. And what did we do? We consumed content. A lot of it. Internet usage increased by up to 70% for some streaming services.
Content marketing suddenly became a viable option again. The Content Marketing Institute’s own data suggests that it was a bumper year:
Content marketing is still an effective way of bridging the gap between you and your customer. Of building brand loyalty, by showing that you care. Content starts conversations, in a gentle way, where more traditional forms of marketing still have very low ROI.
Lots of worthy institutions started offering their content libraries for free online. The Metropolitan Museum of Art gave its users free access to more than 1,600 art books. The National Theatre opened up previous performances on YouTube.
If you’re a marketing manager, or you run a business, you might be worried about oversharing at the moment. Lockdown has driven us all deeper into ourselves. However, if the statistics are correct, now is actually a good time to reach out to your customers. Your approach doesn’t have to be direct. In fact, a gentle, friendly or more indirect approach works well during times of national stress. What are you currently going through? How are your customers feeling?
For 2021, we all need to focus more closely on relevance. Finding the right customers, in the right place, and speaking honestly and openly to them about their needs.
Content is the way you can bring your customers closer. Content helps and adds value to people’s lives. And content shows that you care, that you want to stay in touch.
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