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Content in times of change: is your content setting the right tone now?

People are hungry right now for uplifting stories, showing your brand’s humanity. Therefore, now it is time to turn your content into an effective marketing tool.

Getting your content on track with the changing times

For many of us, the current situation has called a lot of our everyday routines into question. It’s no wonder that so many companies are having a hard time setting the right tone in their content marketing. We’re used to adapting to ever-changing market conditions and audience preferences. But the huge shifts in consumer behaviour in recent months has many marketers considering whether to throw out their playbook and start all over.

The good news is: with a little creativity, strong commitment to your brand’s message and a firm understanding of your audience’s needs, your content can be as strong and impactful as ever.

Let’s take a look at how you can regain your focus and turn your content into the effective marketing tool that you need it to be right now.

Stay true to your brand’s message

Markets and consumer habits are rapidly changing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. But is that really anything new? All marketers are used to staying flexible and catering to changing consumer needs. Admittedly, the current situation is a bit more extreme than the usual market trend fluctuation. But that’s actually a great reason to stay on message and drive home your brand’s values now.

There is no better time than now to  stand up for what your company really has to offer. How can your company still add value, even during the crisis? That should be your focus right now. 

Take the new ‘Home is Good’ campaign from laundry detergent brand Persil (Unilever) as an example. This is a touching, feel-good video campaign using images of a child quietly painting pictures at the kitchen table. It shows consumers why Persil’s promise is still just as valid now as it always has been. We’re used to seeing Persil campaigns with kids playing outdoors and getting splattered in mud under the tagline ‘Dirt is Good’. With ‘Home is Good,’ Persil moves its focus indoors, where there are still plenty of fun, colourful things for kids to do.

This is a great start, because it stays true to Persil’s message and shows how the brand still adds value. But the ‘Home is Good’ video has plenty of room to improve: why not cut out the sad music and add some more action? Let’s see those kids splattering finger-paint all over the place and having the time of their lives. Remember, people are bummed out enough as it is.

Know your audience’s needs

Lockdowns and social distancing have created a strong need for connection and community among many consumers. Think about how your brand and its products can add value now by bringing people together. 

That’s the clever idea behind a new social media campaign from US market-leading hot dog brand Oscar Mayer (Kraft Heinz). May is the beginning of the backyard grilling season in the US. This year, Oscar Mayer is encouraging its customers to move their grills from the backyard to the front, so they can share the outdoor cooking experience with their neighbours.

The video included in the social media campaign is uplifting and optimistic. It emphasizes how the brand’s products are adding value to the lives of its customers and restoring the sense of community that people are missing now. It encourages customers to think of how they can open up their lives and turn a routine Saturday cookout into something more like a block party (within the bounds of social distancing, of course).

Show your brand’s human side

We have all been uplifted lately by small acts of everyday kindness. Think for example, of people who are offering to help with errands and shopping for their elderly neighbours during lockdown. Or the widespread outpouring of support for health and safety workers. 

So, it’s no coincidence that consumers are responding favourably to brands that show how much they care. Recent largescale market research found that 78% of consumers want brands to help them in their daily lives, while 40% appreciate it when companies donate money and resources to helpful causes. This crisis is a time to help others and show how much your brand cares through meaningful, sincere acts of kindness.

Toilet paper manufacturer Cottonelle has responded to the COVID-19 crisis with a charitable social media campaign. Because toilet paper stockpiling has been a recurring topic throughout the crisis, Cottonelle decided to leverage the theme with its campaign: ‘Stocking up on Generosity’. The company released a video and accompanying content, promising to donate US$1 to the United Way Worldwide COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund every time someone uses the hashtag #ShareASquare on social media.

Other brands have also released content highlighting their charitable giving. Dunkin’ Donuts is even giving free donuts to front-line medical workers in the US on 6 May to commemorate National Nurse’s Day.

Feeling better already?

People are hungry right now for uplifting stories, showing your brand’s humanity. Inspire your audiences and restore their sense of community. You might even try to make them laugh a little. Just be careful not to make light of what is obviously a very serious situation for many people around the world. 

And whatever you do: don’t use this as an opportunity to cash in. The same research cited above found that 74% of consumers do not want companies to capitalise on the situation. That’s why it’s important to stay true to your values and strengthen ties with your target audiences now. And that takes a careful tone, a positive message and real added value. 

So, snap out of that Coronavirus burnout! Focus on what really matters now. Show your brand’s human side. And be a force for real value added. Your audiences will be happy to see it.