Put People First: B2B Blogging During COVID

Caring about customers

You’ve done a great job learning about your audience. You know why customers like to do business with you. You know what topics they care about. You know how to talk to them. Or at least you thought you knew. Now you’re not so sure. Perhaps it’s time to reflect on making changes to our blogging and content.

Cultural change calls for shifts in communication.

Societal changes make us re-evaluate our personal and business relationships.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused a sea change in our businesses, our personal lives, our relationships, and our communities. Business closings. Isolation. Layoffs. Illness and loss. None of us are quite the same as before. As a result, we are spending more time than ever re-evaluating how we interact with the world—as business people, as marketers and writers, and as caring human beings.

“Take Care” takes on new meaning.

Big things have changed, but equally important are the small, everyday interactions. As a micro-example, even hard-nosed business leaders are adding “stay healthy” at the end of their work emails, not just a perfunctory “take care.” This subtle shift in business relationships reflects our current reality, and it’s something important for B2B bloggers and communicators to take note of.

There’s no single answer for creating content during COVID, but there are some key guideposts to keep in mind—some business-focused and some more personal.

Below are my suggestions for handling blogging during this challenging time.

Stay in front of your audience.

We care about you illustration.
Keep reaching out to your audience.

Many businesses are having tough times and scrambling to meet new and unexpected realities. While your business or blog might not be at the top of your readers’ priority list, this doesn’t mean you should go underground.

Customers and leads may not be in the mood for a big sales pitch, but most people will appreciate you reaching out to them, perhaps in a different manner. It’s a good time to focus on building trust and a sense of support. Blog posts can be a very effective medium for these messages.

Showing your support takes many forms, including:

Be a resource.

It can be hard to keep up with current industry news, especially if you are struggling to stay afloat. A good strategy, now more than ever, is to be a proactive, timely resource for topical industry developments. Examples of these types of posts would include round-up articles on new industry technologies, Q&A posts about upcoming regulations, summaries of new industry reports or surveys, and listings of useful industry resources.

Be relevant.

Keep advice relevant to your business.

In the B2B world, one of the biggest changes is how many people are working from home. Parents are trying to keep their kids busy and avoid getting distracted from work. Singles are looking for ways to stay connected and reduce social isolation.

Your audience might appreciate suggestions for how to succeed, even thrive, while working remotely. When offering strategies for success, it’s best to make it relevant to your business. Here are some possible examples:

  • Fitness equipment: Short work-out routines to fit in during their workday to “take a break.”
  • Furniture business: Information on what to look for in ergonomic furniture.
  • Music/entertainment: Music playlists or links to music that boost productivity.

Be fun.

Hey, Ringo! Will you write the Pet Shop’s blog about how cats use their paws?

Your customers are only human, and these days humans are on edge. We can all use some comfort and more smiling. For communicators, this may take the form of lighter messages that reflect a positive outlook, provide a laugh, or even provoke an “aww.” This doesn’t necessarily mean sending out pictures of puppies and kittens (unless you sell pet supplies), but you might include a funny cartoon related to your industry. If your company sells interior design services, you could share fun toys to keep on your desk. If you offer travel services, you could share a list of websites that offer virtual vacations. If you decide to go for cute, make it relevant to your audience. Okay, I don’t run a pet store, so my blogging cat image above is a stretch–but I hope it made you smile!

Be realistic.

Write blogs that feel safe, not stressful.

With the future being uncertain, there is a sense of living in limbo, which is stressful. We want to make sure that our content is not unintentionally distressing or insensitive. We may want to lighten things up, but we certainly don’t want to trivialize the state of the world.

In posting blog content, make sure that topics and tone, social media posts, advertising, and images—take into account the current mindset and perspective of our audience. This requires presenting a balance of positivity, without minimizing the difficulties our readers. may be going through.

Be empathetic.

Empathy builds trust and retention.

Let your audience know that you care (because you do!). Sharing information in a way that is understanding and compassionate will build trust, loyalty, and retention among customers and leads alike.

Give yourself a reality check.

Green Checkmark
Look at your available resources.

Many people’s resources are more limited than before. If you need to scale down content, you have a number of options to consider. There’s no guidebook for marketing during a pandemic, but it’s time to carefully look at how to best utilize your content resources. Some ideas include:

  • Use or modify evergreen content.
  • Convert past content into a different blog format, such as a listicle, Q&A, or top 10 roundup.
  • Turn blog posts into a slide show or video.
  • Doing more in-house design with tools like Canva.
  • Use free photo services, such as Pexels or even Google images. Be careful to use only photos in the public domain so as not to infringe copyright laws.
  • Share content from industry experts and organizations (with proper credit and attribution).
  • Try to periodically have guest bloggers.
  • Do a Q&A blog based on questions you see on social media, Linked groups, or industry forums.
  • Use blog posts as the basis for emails, newsletters, and other types of outreach.
  •  

Be kind to yourself.

Be kind to yourself as you face uncertain times.

It’s not a great strategy to throw things against the wall to see what sticks. But again, we don’t have a guidebook for the amount of change that’s happening right now. All we can rely on are educated guesses.

It’s true that some businesses are more used to changes than others. If you have a seasonal business, like a sporting goods store, you will naturally be prepared to sell snowshoes in the winter and snorkeling masks in the summer. But that’s an expected change that the sporting goods store has been though many times before. Now, all of us must do our best to anticipate and respond to the shifting and unpredictable winds of our economy, society, and personal lives.

Is it time to make hard decisions?

It’s hard, very hard. Just like our customers, we may sometimes feel rudderless, fragile, discouraged, or disappointed. And just like we’re kind to our customers, we should be kind to ourselves when we feel down.

Take a deep breath, and then dig deep. Keeping up with the self-care you need–getting enough sleep, taking a walk, making a great meal–will help you find the determination needed to take a hard look at your business and industry. Moving forward may require adjusting goals and time frames, resetting priorities, restructuring the media budget, or refocusing the budget on less costly promotional avenues. Just remember, take time to breathe.

Accomplish what you realistically can–while taking care of yourself.

Be honest about what you can and can’t realistically accomplish. You can’t make your blog deadline because there’s no childcare? The world won’t end; you’ll catch up next week. You can only do three blogs a month instead of four? Make them as highest quality as you can. You are finding it hard to concentrate on a 2,500-word blog? This week do a 1,500-word blog. Do what you can, but not at the expense of your health and well-being.

Make Use of Your Downtime.

Great ideas can be hatched during downtime.

If your sales are suffering, your doors are temporarily shuttered, or your clients’ marketing budgets have been put on hold, make the best use of your downtime.

It’s a good time for relationship building–call or set up a video chat with customers for a friendly hello. Tweak and your website for a better user experience. Experiment with producing video content. Create a stock of evergreen content so it’s ready when you need it. Educate yourself about areas you’d like to learn more about, such as SEO or content marketing strategies. You may even discover new ideas you’ll want to continue well into the future. That’s sure to make you feel good.

My personal wishes for your success, safety, and peace-of-mind.

COVID-19 is going to stick around for a while, and its impact will be felt for a long time. The good news is that, as content creators, we can make a positive contribution to our audiences—even if just for the few moments someone is reading our blog post, watching our video, or checking out our Pinterest page. Keep listening, stay relevant, and re-evaluate your plans as needed. And I can’t stress this enough—stay healthy, be kind to your customers, and be gentle with yourself.

If you need support with your blogging or other content, I invite you to contact Boston-based Westebbe Marketing. Our original, high-quality content is always crafted to have a positive impact on your audience—and give you peace of mind. Contact us at (617) 699-4462 or amy@westebbemarketing.com.

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