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Why content marketing strategies need a relook in pandemic times

One can safely say that content consumption across platforms kept Indians sane during the prolonged lockdown period and also with the increased amount of stay-at-home time as people continue to curb their time spent outdoors.

With fewer avenues to engage with consumers directly during the pandemic times, brands are increasingly turning to content marketing to build trust and reputation of the brand, as well as increase recall and relevance.

To understand more about the role of content marketing for brands during the pandemic times, Adgully reached out to some leading media houses, content agencies and brands.

Media houses like Forkmedia feel that brands should listen to the customers to understand their state of mind. According to them, credibility matters more in this current situation, where fake news is floating more and consumers’ trust is getting low. Content marketing is like building a bridge between the brand and the consumer and this bridge gets stronger when the narrative revolves around what the brand can do for the consumer. Looking at the current situation, where there is a sense of fear in the minds of consumers, hard selling advertisements would be less impactful.

Karthik Nagarajan, Chief Content Officer, Wavemaker India, observed, “Consumers are looking up to brands to show empathy and to react in a humane way to what is happening. Content is a great way by which brands can connect with the audience in more innovative ways than they can on mainline. The video that we created for Mother Dairy (“Maa ke haath ka khana”) with Zakir Khan is a great example.” Content marketing can play a vital role in these scenarios as it has the potential to take an emotional route to connect with the customers. 

Creating relevance and importance to the customers is the key thing for brands. That’s where content marketing comes in the picture. Creating right content keeping in mind the situation is necessary to attract consumers. During the pre-COVID times, hefty discounts and  direct communications worked well with the target audience, but post lockdown the sensitivity and priorities have changed, with safety, hygiene and wellbeing becoming big content brackets that are getting the hits and eyeballs, along with how the brands are communicating their safety and hygiene strategy.

Kumar Deb Sinha, Executive Vice President, Dentsu Aegis Network and Country Head,The Story Lab India remarked, “As a brand custodian, I would focus on building trust in tough times through sustained conversations, which are relevant to my consumers and helping them in such tough times in some way. Obviously, the conversations have to be in the domain in which my brand/ product operates.” 

Social media plays an important role in our lives and it has become the primary source of engagement, entertainment & knowledge. In times of social distancing, social media has been the key source in bringing and keeping people together and closer. Brands are increasingly using social media platforms to engage with their customers. As Vaishali Gupta, Head of Brand Marketing, mCaffeine, stated, “Social media is one of the best ways to communicate at this time. With the stress which is ongoing in the pandemic, having healthy and happy communication with the audience does make a difference.”

Lesser but meaningful content on social media can leave a greater impact on the consumers, thus putting out the right content on the right platforms is imperative to reach the target audience. According to Siddharth Alambayan, Head Of Video Content & Brand Solutions, Fork Media, “Intelligent content integrations done via branded content give you that leeway to slice and dice. For example, when you are looking at a lifestyle product and as a brand you feel you have changed the product strategy to cater to the millennial TG, then reach them with vertical videos and via lifestyle content creators like The Hauterfly or Ask Men India. While these are products of Fork Media Group, we take pride in having created a digital-first vertical – 9:16 formatted video based campaign, curated for the need of the client(s).” 

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the purchasing patterns of consumers, which has inadvertently pushed brands to re-evaluate their marketing strategies. Now, more than ever, brands have realised the importance of keeping relevant and valuable content at the core of their marketing campaigns – something that strikes a chord with the end consumer. In the current scenario, the underlying message delivered by brands is skewed towards building trust rather than being just aimed at promotional content to ensure a long-term and sustained partnership. These unprecedented times have called for brands to expand their horizons and think about real issues rather than being opportunistic. Hence, they need to tap into the emotional and psychological thinking of the consumers and generate content that resonates with how they feel. These tactics not only help increase brand consideration, but also, achieve optimum results by way of improved SEO and enhanced business.

“In response to the ongoing pandemic, brands have modified the content marketing strategy by seeing it through the COVID-19 prism. They are thinking of next-gen, innovative marketing solutions and efforts have moved towards online/ digital channels from costly on-ground activities. The campaigns are being curated keeping the health of others in mind and usage of relevant platforms which suffices the brand objective. With the increased usage of social media, KOLs and influencers play a vital role in the consumer purchase cycle. These factors combined together, present us with opportunities to create the perfect blend of intriguing content and the right set of marketing tools for a successful campaign for all the brands that we work with. At the end of the day, by striking a deep rooted connection with easy-going and empowering content, a brand has the potential to assure itself a place in the consumers’ minds,” commented Dharika Merchant, COO, The Alchemy Group & WORD

DAN’s Sinha believes that this festive season is an opportunity for brands to play the role of a supportive friend and design opportunities that will help people come together virtually and enjoy the spirit of festivity, even if they are not physically present. Brands also have the opportunity to experiment with their content strategies, which will help them to stand out in the market. Gifting will continue and so will new purchases, but they will be done with caution and the campaigns revolving around them should also specify these terms. 

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