Content marketing in tough times: Stay true to your brand voice

Content marketing in tough times: Stay true to your brand voice

As an expert who coaches clients on content marketing, I’m always curious about content marketing from brands I respect.

Lately I’ve been surprised to see more than a few brands stray from their brand voice, even a brand voice that had been consistent for years.

Many brands are suffering financially because of COVID-19. Brands also struggled with their responses to Black Lives Matter.

For example, on June 2 I scrolled through my Instagram feed, pleased to see all of the brands I follow had gone dark in support of Black Lives Matter. And then a bright white square appeared, announcing a sale for a handbag.

I was shocked. Did they not read the news? Did they not get the memo? Had they scheduled their social media so far in advance that they just let this post go?

That particular post on that particular day was way off brand for this company. I have to wonder how many other followers were as turned off as I was.

Person yelling through megaphone and lots of words in the background including brand and promotion.
Don’t turn off clients with off brand content marketing during tough times.

I’m also surprised about the number of brands I’ve seen advertising deep, deep discounts in ALL CAPS. Especially from brands that previously had a more formal tone.

I realize many brands are suffering, but this type of marketing is off brand for many companies.

In addition to being nimble during a crisis, brands need to stay true to their brand voice. Otherwise they risk losing loyal customers.

Crises such as the coronavirus clearly test marketing departments. How do they continue to deliver leads to sales when buyer spending is down?

But a sudden change your brand voice can be jarring to buyers. It feels like not recognizing the voice of a friend.

How do you stay true to your brand voice during tough times? Here are few tips:

Use your Message Map and Content Marketing Mission

If you don’t have your Message Map and Content Marketing Mission posted near your workspace so you can see them every day, do it now. Because they should guide everything you do, even during tough times.

Tough times don’t mean it’s okay to stray from your mission. Your organization still holds the same purpose.

Consistency is key

If your organization normally sends one or two emails per week, and suddenly you start sending 5 emails a week, your buyers may notice. And they may get annoyed.

I’ve unsubscribed to several email lists lately for this very reason. More is not necessarily better.

Man wearing glasses in front of laptop with frustrated look and hands raised in frustration.
Brands may lose loyal customers by upping the frequency of content marketing during tough times.

Rather than bombarding buyers, stay true to your established rhythm. Find other ways to meet your marketing goals.

For example, instead of sending five emails a week, pivot your appeal to what your buyers really need during these times.

Help your buyers

Pivoting your content marketing quickly is often easier said than done, especially for business-to-business (B2B) brands.

If your buyers are in pause mode, deep discounts may not entice them to act. What can you do instead? Help them with useful content marketing.

Here are some ideas:

  • Educate your buyers about a feature of your product or service they may not be using to its full potential.
  • Provide information that can help your buyers get through the crisis.
  • Offer thought leadership on the future of your specific industry.
  • Send a roundup: headlines from industry news they may not have seen.

Test, test, test

When I work with clients on content marketing campaigns, I always encourage them to create at least two versions of the headline and two versions of each email so they can conduct A/B testing.

This enables them to deliver content customers are more likely to open and read.

Go with your gut

Pivoting so quickly that you don’t have time to conduct A/B testing? Before you hit send, do a gut check.

Because if it feels off brand, chances are that it is.

Tough times can put a lot of pressure on marketers to create content marketing that delivers leads. But straying from your organization’s brand voice can be off-putting to prospects and clients.

Smart marketers get creative to find ways to pivot their marketing and stay true to their brand voice.

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