Only a few weeks into the pandemic, I wrote 7 Steps to Create a Helpful Interim Content Marketing Strategy. Tired of reading about COVID-19 everywhere, I purposely focused the article on any significant disruption to a brand’s content marketing.
I know, I know. My naivete seems laughable 18 months later. I no longer think of the pandemic as a disruption deserving of interim treatment but as a revolutionary moment for most brands’ content marketing.
Unfortunately, we aren’t living in a post-pandemic world yet. But there’s no shortage of pontificating about how to adjust your content and marketing plans to meet that eventual. Some advice hits the mark (think: anything about getting in your audience’s head), but other pronouncements point you in the wrong direction.
We asked the experts presenting at Content Marketing World to share the worst advice they’ve heard about marketing in a post-pandemic world. They came through – and explained why you shouldn’t fall for any of it.
Everything is online …
“The world is now 100% digital.” That seems like an insider comment when much of the world beyond the tech companies are not digital at all. So many small towns are still a balance of physical and digital. – Adam Morgan, executive creative director, Adobe
… and online marketing is everything
“Everything has gone digital.” Yes, people have become more comfortable with using digital to manage their lives due to the pandemic. Whether it is using QR codes to bring up restaurant menus, ordering groceries for pickup, or using videoconferencing, digital for personal (and business) use accelerated rapidly in the past 18 months.
That doesn’t mean that people will never go back to personal connections for some things, including dealing with businesses. We are already seeing (at least in the United States) stores and restaurants opening back up, sporting events being at full capacity, and conferences going back to in person. We need to focus on offline marketing as well as online. – Andi Robinson, global digital content leader, Corteva Agriscience
“Everything has gone digital.” Really? Restaurants are open, sports events, and conferences are happening. Focus on offline #marketing as well as online, says @hijinxmarketing via @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet
Focus on new customers
“Now is your best chance to find new customers.” Yes, that might be true, but it’s also your best chance to enhance your relationships with current customers and show them what they mean to you. – Ahava Leibtag, president, Aha Media Group
“Now is your best chance to find new customers.” That may or may not be true, but @ahaval says it’s definitely the time to enhance relations with current customers, via @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet
Stop trying to make IRL happen
“Business travel is dead.” No, it’s not. Events will continue to matter in the post-pandemic world. We will need to be more flexible in the future, but the in-person connection at least periodically will always be important in establishing relationships, whether it’s for marketing, sales, conferences, or developing healthy team dynamics. – Alli Berry, SEO director, The Motley Fool
Virtual events are over
“Virtual events will go away.” I think it’s the exact opposite. If there’s one thing the pandemic taught us, it’s that virtual events work. They are proven to expand the reach of your content, provide flexibility to your audience, and ultimately introduce new ways of doing business. It’s forced us to double down on high-quality livestreaming and allowed us to experiment with different platforms and formats.
Now that the world is at our doorstep, the challenge for content marketers post-pandemic is how to bridge the gap between the online and the offline. Will we step up our creativity and continue to flex this new marketing muscle or will we fall back into the same tired, safe, and overly sanitized tactics that continue to clutter our inboxes and our social feeds. At ActiveCampaign, we created a late-night show for marketers, then pushed it even further with an investigative live show dedicated to growing your business. What will you do to step up? – Jason Miller, senior director of brand marketing, ActiveCampaign
Virtual events aren’t going anywhere, no matter what you’ve heard, says #CMWorld speaker @jasonmillerca. The challenge for #ContentMarketing is to bridge the gap between online and offline. Click To Tweet
Buy advertisements …
“Invest in ads.” There’s an advertising industrial complex and an advertising bubble that’s about to burst. Look for alternatives to advertising. – Andrew Davis, author and keynote speaker, Monumental Shift
… especially digital ones
“It’s time to ramp up your digital ad spend.” Yeah, let’s create more of the marketing people DON’T want. – Michael Brenner, CEO, Marketing Insider Group
Sell in the room
“Get on Clubhouse and sell, sell, sell.” OK, I haven’t actually heard anyone say it. All the rooms of “selling from the stage” pitches and self-congratulatory talk are kind of nauseating. (That said, there are some awesome people and rooms on Clubhouse worth attending). – Viveka von Rosen, chief visibility officer, Vengreso
Back to the workplace
“Tell everyone to get back into the office.” That just isn’t going to work anymore. It’s not going to happen. Sure, some folks will be excited to get back (for us, it was about 25%), but a lot of people just prefer to work remotely. The best marketers have options. Tell them they need to commute, and they may take their talent and skills to another company with more flexibility. – Andy Crestodina, co-founder and CMO, Orbit Media
Advice to get everyone back to the office won’t work anymore, says @crestodina, because the best marketers have options. Ask them to commute and you might lose them, via @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet
Get back to “normal”
“Everything will return to normal, and you don’t need to make any changes to your marketing or strategies.” – Brian Piper, director of content strategy and assessment, University of Rochester
Resume pre-pandemic living
“Things are going back to normal as the country reopens.” The past 18 months of sheltering in place and working remotely have had a profound effect on all of us. There isn’t any going back. Rather we have to determine a new way forward that takes our shared experiences into account. – Erika Heald, consultant, Erika Heald Consulting
The worst advice? Wait for things to return to “normal.” There’s no going back, says #CMWorld speaker @SFErika. Find a new way forward that builds on our shared experiences, via @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet
Do what you did
“Things will go back to normal.” There is no “new normal.” There is a before and an after. Hankering for the way things were will simply make people disillusioned. Suck it up. Move on. Then listen, learn, ask questions, and make changes. The world will never be the same, but it could be better.” – Gina Balarin, director, Verballistics
Forgo pandemic references
“Don’t mention the pandemic because it will date the content.” It was a globally shared experience. We can’t airbrush it out even if we wanted to. – Doug Kessler, co-founder, Velocity
Be online everywhere
“Distribute your content everywhere your customers are online.” Ugh. What is this? 2001? Better advice is to focus on being amazing and useful on one or two platforms. Over or early diversification is a huge problem with corporate content marketing. – Joe Pulizzi, founder, The Tilt
Be the media
“Every company should be a media company.” No. We still need companies to make ladders, cut our grass, and recycle our trash. The classic four Ps of marketing still work. In fact, they are essential. – Mark Schaefer, author, Cumulative Advantage: How to Build Momentum for Your Ideas, Business, and Life Against All Odds
Don’t plan yet
“We’ll just have to wait and see.” No! – Karen Hesse, CEO and founder, 256
Stay the course
Brands that think they can “stay the course” are wasting their time. No matter what industry you work in, no matter how unaffected your budgets or bottom line were by the pandemic, the fact of the matter is your customers’ lives have changed.
Whether it’s the uncertainty of where they will be working or major changes to the stressors in their lives, even as we “return to normal,” many of the things that we used to take for granted are no longer true. Every marketer in every industry must take stock of how decision-making and content consumption patterns have changed. – Zontee Hou, head of strategy, Convince & Convert
I now know the word “pandemic” will be in my writing vocabulary in both the short and long term. The world is a different place today.
As Kathy Klotz-Guest, founder, Keeping it Human, explains: “We’ve underestimated the amount and degree of change, and fear. Customers and marketers have all undergone a lot of change. We need to lean into that rather than acting like it didn’t happen. Good advice from @KathyKlotzGuest: Lean into changes that customers and #ContentMarketing pros have gone through instead of acting like it didn’t happen, via @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet
Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute