As cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) increase internationally, brands have begun scrambling to navigate the pandemic – both internally and externally. In the past week alone, for example, notable big-tech conferences like IBM’s Think, SXSW, and Adobe Summit were canceled due to COVID-19 concerns (see the bottom of this article for a full, running list). In response to coronavirus, many marketing teams are forced to switch gears and think of alternative outlets, away from event marketing, to accelerate pipeline while keeping the health of others in mind.
The challenges for marketers during coronavirus outbreak
On average, 30-40% of marketing budget is allocated for trade show sponsorship, travel, expenses, attendance, and collateral. With the coronavirus blowing up trade show budget, marketers are challenged to redistribute that budget quickly.
Amid the fear of attending and sponsoring large events, marketers are turning to content marketing delivered directly to subscribers online to stay engaged with their customers. Content marketing has evolved from being just blog posts and editorial strategies. It’s a holistic approach that relies on a broad range of digital marketing strategies tactics such as email, social media, SEO, and paid media to continue engagement with customers.
With the cancellation of upcoming events, you need to extend your digital content marketing efforts to ensure consistent and timely communication with your customers. A great example of this could be seen by IBM. Although IBM’s Think in San Francisco has been recently canceled, they are rebooting the event as a new ‘digital’ conference scheduled for early May. In preparation for this event, IBM is relying on interactive content to maintain the event’s values and missions without the risk of travel.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is a type of digital marketing in which brands develop an on-going relationship with customers through content that is non-promotional and provides value at every touch. Over the years, content marketing has evolved from being just blog posts and editorial strategies but a holistic approach that relies on a broad range of digital marketing tactics such as email, social media, SEO, and paid distribution to reach a target audience.
Unlike advertising, content marketing is not overtly promotional. Rather, content marketing allows brands to become storytellers and provide important information especially during times of crisis. Your customers and prospects seek out content that entertains, inspires, educates, and informs. Content marketing tactics will help keep you create an on-going relationship during, and even after, the coronavirus pandemic.
The importance of content marketing
Content marketing can become an effective way for you to remain in touch with your customers and increase pipeline generation during the coronavirus pandemic. With the ever-changing digital landscape, communicating and engaging with your audience can remain undisrupted, no matter what the situation is – as long as you have the proper content marketing strategies in place.
Since trade shows are primarily used for demand generation initiatives and pipeline acceleration, focusing on digital lead generation channels becomes vital. Many marketers would say that increasing digital spending will increase lead volume, but quality can vary. Some would argue that the quality of leads generated at trade shows can also vary – as long as the leads are carefully vetted, pipeline generation will increase without having to rely on trade show participation.
As we see more event closures, brands should follow IBM’s innovative lead and adapt their previous plans to become digital events. In doing so, brands will have the opportunity to globally scale their events and increase engagement – further proving the importance of content marketing. Digital events will allow you to become storytellers en masse and provide consumers with the content of value increasing brand awareness and engagement. Customers and prospects seek out content that entertains, inspires, educates, and informs – a strong content strategy will give you the opportunity to leverage important elements from experiential marketing online.
In challenging times and a fast-changing global landscape, communicating brand identity and values remains important. Coronavirus provides a new challenge for marketers that shines a light on the importance of relying on strategies outside of traditional channels (while expected to remain agile). The goal of experiential marketing during the coronavirus outbreak is to invest in similar experiential and content marketing strategies delivered through online platforms. Ensure your customers are aware that you are still available and interested in their business throughout 2020.
Moreover, no matter how you’re approaching this situation – both from a health as well as a marketing standpoint – it is important that we maintain a healthy and safe environment.
Marketing summits affected by the coronavirus
As of writing, here is a running list of international tech and content marketing conferences that have been canceled so far due to coronavirus concerns:
- Adobe Summit in Las Vegas
- EmTech, Asia in Singapore
- Facebook Global Marketing Summit in San Francisco
- Facebook F8 in San Jose, California
- Google News Initiative Global Summit in Sunnyvale, California
- Google I/O in Mountain View, California
- IBM’s Think in San Francisco
- Mobile World Congress in Barcelona
- REV2020 in San Francisco
- Shopify’s developer conference, Unite, in Toronto
- South by Southwest in Austin
Shohei Fukano is NewsCred’s Content Marketing Manager