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November 02, 2022
Today, there’s wide speculation that we’re recession-bound. And volatile equity markets and inflation are leading to ominous predictions. It is fair to say that if we marketers were sailboat captains, we’d be in stormy seas. But whether it is just a bit of chop or a huge storm gathering strength – or not – we’re all experiencing anxiety around the business climate.
However, as experienced sailors, marketers, comms pros and PR people have the seamanship to deal with inclement weather. Among these “sailing” skills is content marketing, and I encourage marketing leaders to invest in content, even when the skies are dark.
Threats of a downturn are real, driven by the combination of the pandemic’s lasting impact, a continued skills shortage, ongoing supply chain challenges, geopolitics, and changes in consumer behavior. What’s more, the drive towards digital transformation will create significant impact, amplifying recessionary potential. As a result, marketers need to respond and keep their brands top-of-mind with buyers.
Marketers should understand that like sailors, there are effective ways for them to circumnavigate bad conditions. Smooth sailing means that content marketing efforts should be a high priority. Content planning is the equivalent of understanding your charts and maps and being realistic about the potential for bad weather.
Execution – in the form of a safe journey that keeps influencers and buyer audiences well-informed – is all about creating material that is on-target throughout the sales funnel. Relevant content that serves the reader’s needs and job role is essential and should be delivered in a cross-platform manner and ideally as part of an overarching PESO (paid, earned, shared and owned) strategy.
Authenticity, empathy and differentiation will help your content land well during tough times. Gartner opines that an embrace of data-driven insights around market signals, along with showing “empathetic influence,” will increase the likelihood of revenue growth.
Empathy is key when it comes to making brand connections, particularly when products or services are essentially at price/performance parity. Understanding a customer’s situation and positioning your solution as one that meets their unique needs at the right time and in the right place can ensure a better reception.
Differentiation is also key when products are at parity, and the content approach for a cruise line that goes along the Rhine, versus one that offers Disney-themed cruises to Cabo, would of course be different. Yet both still need to be authentic, relevant and compelling. Which is to say, don’t make your customers feel like a number with one-size-fits-all content. Customized content strategies will engender greater loyalty, reduce churn and enable longer-term profits.
Also remember that storms can be fierce, but they’re transitory, like rough seas for a sailor. As marketing “captains,” we must learn to deal with stormy weather as an ongoing presence and refine our content approaches to suit conditions. Expert yachtsmen are always adjusting course to catch the best waters, and, similarly, a market-savvy, diverse and adaptable content strategy will make for smoother sailing. Leveraging content in this way will enable ongoing brand awareness and differentiation and is your best path to growth, even in today’s stormy seas.
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About the author
Curtis Sparrer is a principal of Bospar PR. He has represented brands like PayPal, Tetris and the alien hunters of the SETI Institute. He is a member of the Forbes Communications Council and has written for Adweek, Forbes, the Dallas Morning News, and PRWeek. He is an active member of the National Lesbian Gay Journalist Association. Business Insider has twice listed him as one of the Top Fifty in Tech PR.