By Sara Callahan, President, Carter West Public Relations
In recent months, businesses have had to adapt to a global pandemic, economic shutdowns, employee layoffs, peaceful protests and riots, and operational efficiency changes to help deal with all the above. So, you may think it’s understandable if you’ve been ignoring your content marketing strategy. However, turbulent times provide an opportunity for you to differentiate your business from the competition.
What are you doing to reach out to the millions of people glued to social media for hours each day? The best way to capture and engage the attention of current and potential customers is with fresh, relevant content.
Here are three content strategies your business can implement in the next few months for maximum impact:
1. Share timely, relevant content on social media.
Both dealerships and vendors alike have made drastic changes in the past few months. Virtually every company has implemented new public safety protocols. Manufacturers are offering killer financing deals, and vendors are offering free trials or greatly discounted rates for their products and services.
This information is typically posted on company websites, but unless your customers happen to visit your website, they don’t see it. Are you using social media to push your messages out to where people can see them, regularly? Unfortunately, I still see many dealerships and vendors who primarily use social media to promote their products and services. Or, they use social media mills and post generic content that could apply to anyone. This is not what social media was designed for.
Your social media posts should be timely and address local and current trends. Many dealers are doing a terrific job of posting public safety procedures, such as how they’re sanitizing vehicles and requiring employees to wear face masks.
If your business has recently implemented a remote sales or service process, social media is the ideal way to inform customers. Ideally, create a landing page that details your new processes, and include a link in the posts.
2. Use blogs to guide consumers through the purchase.
Blogs provide an additional opportunity to answer customer FAQs and guide them through the purchasing process. If you’re a vendor who is trying to sell to a dealership, have your salespeople note any questions and concerns frequently raised during the sales process. If you’re a dealership, create blogs that help to address customer questions, such as “Should you lease or buy?” “Should you buy new or used?” or “How to pair Apple Car Play with Your Device.”
You don’t have to stress over getting cute, clever, or writing in-depth content. Offering genuine, good advice is enough. And an educational 200-word blog is better than no blog at all.
One blog idea is to highlight your customers and what they’re doing. Is one of your customers using their new vehicle to gather and drop off supplies for those in need at this time? Is a customer of yours doing something unique or innovative in the business world, that makes an interesting story? People love to read about other people, so gather and share as many human-interest stories as you can muster. Just make sure your customers sign a media release form that allows you to use their story for marketing purposes.
Also, if you’re creating content, make sure your website is designed to showcase it. Have a separate tab just for your blog, and promote it with a button on your homepage, as well as with links on social media.
Remember, the entire reason behind content marketing is to capture leads. Every company should have at least one free eBook or guide that can be downloaded in exchange for a first name and email address. Don’t require any more than that, although you can include optional fields if you like.
3. Build a robust video strategy.
Do I really need to convince anyone that video is the best content of all? People love watching videos, and it’s the best way for customers to establish an emotional connection with your brand.
Lately, I’ve seen many short, conversational videos posted on platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn that have been getting a lot of views and comments. If I had a sales staff of any kind, I would mandate that everyone is trained on how to record and post videos, and strongly encourage staff to post them on all their social media networks—especially on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
Video communication is not only the future; it’s the here and now. Even if you don’t feel comfortable in front of the camera, start practicing. If your record enough videos, eventually you’ll make one that you like and can post.
As far as video topics go, steer clear of politics and personal stories. Using personal examples in videos is fine, but keep topics relevant to what’s trending in your industry. These days, that might include personal safety measures, inventory challenges, customer experience, value propositions, digital retailing, community participation and outreach, financing, educational tips, and FAQs. Once you put your brainstorming cap on, the possibilities are endless!
Your company’s content marketing strategy should evolve with the times, and 2020 so far has seen an enormous shift in consumer behaviors and attitudes. Has your content marketing strategy changed with it, or are you stuck in the same marketing rut as last year? Companies and their representatives who participate in, and comment on, current trends will be in the best position to capture consumer attention and stand out from their competition.
about the author
Sara Callahan has more than 30 years of public relations and promotions experience. Born in the United Kingdom, she began her career there with a publishing company and helped create 3 bestsellers through PR alone. She then re-located to the California and held executive positions in several marketing/communications firms before founding her own agency, Carter-West Public Relations, in 1993 and has since built one of the largest retail automotive PR companies in the U.S.