For all businesses and their marketing and PR teams, life under lockdown is not without its challenges – but, of course, they’re small fry compared to those directly affected by coronavirus, those without work or our essential key workers. Over these past few weeks, the comms and marketing industry has transitioned to life in the New Normal with a focus on what is needed right now as they navigate what lies ahead.
Different industries are being affected in different ways: as an agency working closely with technology businesses, we are seeing agile marketers adapting strategies to meet the changing needs of their businesses and steer a careful path through all the upheaval to ensure business continuity. Although a host of planned activities have had to be abandoned, budgets have been reallocated into PR and other types of comms that are more effective right now.
So, what are the most valuable ways for marketers to use their PR and communications campaigns successfully to engage target audiences to support business resilience and future recovery?
B2B purchasing decisions typically stretch over several months at the best of times, and delivering credible, compelling content remains a crucial marketing communications tool to influence every stage of a decision-making journey, however prolonged that might be right now. With 90% of people seeking communication from brands during the current COVID-19 crisis, marketers have the opportunity to review and shape their content to build positive brand reinforcement, educate prospects and create a trusted relationship for the long-term.
Marketers are realigning comms strategies to ensure they stay close to customers, continue to engage prospects and align their content with the mood of the nation. It has never been more important for marketers to hit just the right note. Content must be focussed on generating the right resonance, delivering solutions, and nurturing relationships.
In these uncertain times, people are reverting to trusted, well-established sources of information, with 45% preferring traditional media outlets. With more of us working at home there’s been a rise in online media consumption – 95% are spending more time reading online publications and magazine articles are the preferred content choice for over half of senior decision makers. We are tapping into this for clients by enabling them to respond to the news agenda and address industry pain points with pragmatic, expert commentary. The results are then amplified by clients across their social channels and shared with sales teams to ensure maximum reach with target audiences.
Long-form content has come into its own for prospects who are hungry for guidance from industry experts. In addition to traditional media consumption, half of decision makers are turning to content such as webinars or reading white papers to aid B2B buying decisions. Critically for marketers still seeking leads, almost two thirds (63%) say they are willing to share their information to access webinars and half (49%) will do so to for white papers. It is also these content formats that are most often shared by C-Suite execs – 55% pass on white papers and 50% forward webinars to peers and colleagues.
There is a call for clear facts and evidence during the current turmoil – two-thirds want to see more data and research to support brand messages. Being able to reference robust brand or customer insight data, or seize the opportunity to respond quickly to the publication of new industry research are strategies we’re currently deploying for clients to help to ensure their brand messages resonate with key audiences.
The road to recovery is likely to be a slow and bumpy one and, while it’s difficult for all of us to see our way out of the other side of the current situation, there is a place for well-considered communication to support business needs at this difficult time. Time taken by marketers now to ensure they are building the right campaigns, to engage their target audiences when it’s appropriate will be time well spent.