How to shift your content plan

In the wake of COVID-19, the way we do business has changed a lot in just a few weeks. So, now is a good time to take a closer look at your content strategy and decide what needs to be adjusted.

Before we get into the details, let’s start with a simple question: What is a content strategy?

Simply put, it's the way you decide you want to communicate with customers and how. This goes from how you brand yourself on your website and in your marketing materials to how you talk to clients in email and on social media.

Read on for some tips on how to shift your content strategy to be relevant in the here and now.

Adjust your tone of voice

At the moment, people are in a different headspace than before, so the way you speak to your customers may benefit from a change. The carefree conversation topics or light-hearted references you used in the past may not go over so well these days.

Focusing on big sales or aggressive marketing can therefore easily backfire, making people feel like you’re not addressing the situation at all—or worse, trying to take advantage of it. It’s important to remember that no one is doing “business as usual” right now. Instead, your audience is most likely focusing on themselves and their families.

So, what can you do? Think more about how you can be helpful and supportive to your customers. People are looking for authenticity in this troubling time, so adjust your messaging to focus on what you’re doing for your community and your employees. You can get even more personal by drawing back the curtain to tell customers how you are doing during the crisis.

Make sales without sounding sales-y

It's easy to say, "don't be explicit about selling", but a business still needs sales to keep running. How can you get new business with less sales-focused messaging? One way is to pivot what you’re doing—there is no need to stop your strategy, just to change direction.

For example, a seamstress that owns a dry cleaner starts making face masks. This is a way she can be more relevant and impactful to her customers. But rather than saying “lowest price face masks in town!”, she can say that she has started to make these products and they are now available to buy. Rather than coming across as self-serving or cold, she comes across as genuine, and that she is taking the time to help. The tonal shift makes all the difference, and means that she will still get the sale, but also generate some good feeling towards her brand.

The main takeaway from this example is to acknowledge the situation and shift to what your customers need. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes - we’re all in an unprecedented situation, so get some feedback from your customers and listen to what they have to say - it can help influence your next pieces of communication and help you build your audience.

Listen to your customers

Right now, the best thing you can do is listen to what your customers (and potential customers) are saying. This will inform you about what people are feeling, thinking and talking about, and also help you see where you might be able to offer some advice or solutions.

How are people absorbing your content? Social media? Email? Online education? Meet your customers where they are, on the platforms they are using, to make an impact. Something that Vistaprint has done is to change the topics on our podcast, Small Business Stories. Up until now, we’ve focused on small businesses that are just starting out, but recently we’ve concentrated more on what small businesses are doing right now during the pandemic in order to make our content more relevant and useful to our listeners.

If you have a varied audience, it can be tricky to try and tailor your content to everyone, so focus on your most valued segment and talk to them. After all, if your message is too broad, it can lose its effect. If you’re not sure who your audience is, then take a look at the people who are interacting with you at the moment. Those people who are liking, sharing and commenting on your content now are the ones you want to engage with.

Get creative and try something new

Now is a great time to experiment. The business landscape is rather forgiving as many brands and companies are moving to change things up, and small businesses are certainly no exception. Use this period to test and learn. Try meeting your younger audience on TikTok. Experiment with Facebook Live. Host a webinar on your expertise. Working from home gives you limits, so be free with everything else and go out of your comfort zone.

Embrace any imperfections or mistakes you may make on the way, and get feedback from your audience. Trying new things can help you to find new ways to connect with your customers, and you may even find a new channel to add to your content strategy.

This topic was recently featured on Vistaprint's Home Office Hours Live series. Watch the full episode here -

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