With the economy in motion, the only certainty is uncertainty.
As your audience reacts to the ups and downs, you need to evolve your content strategy to adapt to their reactions.
Robert Rose, CMI’s Chief Strategic Advisor, and Jane Qin Medeiros, Managing Director of StudioID, spoke in March about how marketers can take advantage of an economic downturn (registration required). Since then, the economic outlook has only darkened.
Evolve your #ContentStrategy to adapt to your audience’s reaction to the ups and downs of the economy, says @juliapizzolato via @Robert_Rose @thestudio_id’s Jan Qin Medeiros @CMIContent. Click to tweet
Does it really matter what the economy does?
Although recession forecasts have increased over the past year, the economy has not taken notice. Employment figures are still good and inflation seems to have slowed. However, the US gross domestic product fell to 1.1% in the first quarter of the year, down significantly from 2.6% in the fourth quarter of 2022.
All of these economic assumptions create an atmosphere of uncertainty or, as Robert calls it, “other shoe-ism.” Buyers are hesitant to make big decisions because they’re waiting for the other “budget shoe” to drop. They don’t know what to expect or when to expect it.
In an uncertain economy, shoppers are experiencing a “different kind of shoe”, says @Robert_Rose. They’re hesitant to buy because they’re waiting for the other budget shoe to drop via @juliapizzolato @CMIContent. Click to tweet
Robert and Jane say marketers need to be responsive and proactive about how their audience is changing.
Follow your audience
In an economic downturn, Jane says, three buyer persona attributes come into play:
- Back up now – people (or companies) who reduce all unnecessary costs and start saving
- Conservation – people (or companies) who do not cut or buy anything
- Opportunity – people (or companies) who spend to help them make the most of a difficult situation
Jane says you should incorporate these new personality attributes into your content marketing strategy. By understanding changing needs and associated pain points, you can create content that delivers the value they need now to do their jobs better.
But how do you know which slowdown persona fits your audience and whether the existing persona is still targeting the right audience? You can interview recent customers or survey your audience.
look at alignment with sales. It’s always important, but it’s vital during economic fluctuations, says Robert. Since the sales team acts on the front line of your brand with prospects and customers, they can provide input to help find out what your customers think and need.
Is your evergreen content turning brown?
After updating your buyer personas, it’s time to a quick content audit to ensure that previously published content can still help your target audience and doesn’t seem disconnected or insensitive to the current environment. I call this version of content marketing the reading piece.
Reviewing the analyzes of this audit may also be useful. For example, a drop (or increase) in traffic or engagement around a topic or category could indicate an opportunity to tone down (or expand) that area. The same analysis works for individual content items.
Robert says successful marketers can rotate topics to meet the needs of their audience right now, even if that content isn’t about your brand and products. He calls this creating “conscious experiences.”
You can also reuse content which still works well and works under current conditions. For example, you can edit webinar footage into a fun TikTok video. Or turn quotes from a popular blog post into Carousel LinkedIn. But, of course, it also works the other way around – expand a successful social media post into a long-form article.
Innovate internally and not wait
While you may want to weather the economic climate by just doing day-to-day content marketing tasks, don’t. Instead, rethink your content marketing systems and processes.
Robert advises outsourcing “core machine table stakes things” rather than innovative ideas. Working on innovation internally works best because your subject matter experts can more easily help refine and refine them. As a result, you will find more success than your competitors who outsource their content marketing innovations.
Also, resist the temptation to put projects on hold. If they are worth doing, keep doing them. Robert explains the effect of a break on his podcast with CMI Founder Joe Pulizzi – This Old Marketing. They took a year away from the podcast. Upon their return, it took over four years to build the momentum they had when they went on hiatus.
Kill a project or do it, but never put yourself in a position to start over.
Your audience wants to be seen and heard by your brand. They want to know that you understand them. In a fluctuating economy, their needs and wants may change, and your content plans must adapt to reflect those changes.
To understand audience shifts, examine your content data and, more importantly, connect with your customers and prospects — and those who work with them — to uncover the changes you face.
Now is not the time to get stuck in your content strategy. Instead, embrace the change and you’ll embrace the audience that goes with it.
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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute