Content Marketing in the Age of Pandemics

By: Sharon A.M. MacLean 

Part 1 in a Series of 4 
In the age of pandemics, we're seeing an upsurge of influencers, virtual conferences, and gamification. These three marketing methods are gaining traction in support of a business strategy to attract an audience to your mission.


It's the new normal.

The arrival of COVID-19 turned content marketing into an essential marketing powerhouse for every industry. Business needed ways to keep connecting with loyal customers. And to find new ones which meant moving online to survive. Yet, digital marketing is very different from the days when promotions were pushed out everywhere. Aggressive call-to-action statements were not appreciated by everyone.

Or being talked at like this: “Buy now!” Consumer values changed, so high-pressure approaches became a turn-off. Content marketing is designed to attract an audience to your business. This means you need an ongoing supply of content such as blogs, videos, and social media to serve consumers as well as the search engines.

In the age of pandemics, we're also seeing the upsurge of influencers, virtual meetings, and gamification.

The key is that content and content marketing supports your business goals through a digital marketing strategy. Think of it as the hub, with the elements of your marketing plan being the spokes. 

Here’s how the Content Marketing Institute distinguishes between the two game plans: Content Is NOT the Same as Content Marketing.

“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.


  • Content marketing creates a more knowledgeable customer. Product pitches often focus on sales.
  • Content marketing builds relationships. Product pitches answer questions at one moment in time.
  • Content marketing helps people feel smart. Product pitches check a box on their to-do lists.
  • Content marketing is an investment that reaps long-term rewards. Product pitches are short-lived.

The Need for a Cohesive Strategy
Skipping from one to another wastes time and adds stress

Confusion also reigns - inside and outside the company - when game plans keep changing to grow your business. Commerce becomes even more uncertain during a pandemic when cash flow and survival becomes the priority. We observed massive misunderstandings when social media networks were flooded during COVID-19. Sadly, not all newcomers were trained in online marketing making their efforts timewasters. 

It became clear that messaging differed when it came to sales vs HR vs customer services vs demand generation. Here's a good place to start when building a strategy. List all existing and previous methods of marketing within context of how these intangible assets support the goals of the business.

Such an analysis often reveals how marketing activities vary dramatically across channels for products and services, regions, and functional areas. 

4 Steps to Build Your Digital Marketing Hub

Step Number 1: Answer These Questions

1. Who do you need to reach with your content? Try limiting your audiences to 5 different *Buyer Personas.

2. How does each Persona benefit from consuming your content?

3. What are the questions that your clients and customers frequently ask when you're developing topics to address?

You’ll uncover the answers to these questions – and plenty of others – through the process of developing your content marketing strategy.

Step Number 2: Social Listening
Before rushing to create content for your business, spend time listening to online conversations. 

This will give you ideas for current topics, concerns, and knowledge of where your competition is investing resources.

When designing a communication plan, think of your audience, the information they need to know, the method for communicating the information, how often they need to be updated, and who will be responsible for disseminating content. 
Based on the need for lead generation programs and sales pipelines, unique forms of content are developed for different products and services. 

For example, the existing website becomes the trust-development and lead-nurturing engine. It collects high-level leads from campaigns and events while thought leaders are informed by the data.

3rd Step: Decide on Type of Content

  • Email
  • Blogs/Articles
  • Images/Photos
  • E-Guides/Product Information
  • Media Releases
  • Whitepapers/Case Studies
  • Video
  • Testimonials
  • Gamification
  • Paid advertising
  • eCourses/Digital Classes/eBooks
  • Magazines/digital and print
  • Streaming media (LinkedIn, Facebook Live, Snapchat)
  • Memes (Twitter/Facebook)
  • Podcasts/Radio Shows
  • Checklists
  • Power Point/Webinars

Plus, many more!

4th Step: Distribute    
You've invested in the regular creation of content to attract, engage, and educate your target audience. 

Congratulations. That takes a commitment to consistency. 
Next comes the strategic distribution of that content. If these intangible assets are not marketed, you're missing opportunities to deliver value for your brand. 

Here's research from Mailmunch who surveyed 297 marketers to find out their top content distribution strategies for 2019. The below chart is what they found.

Reasons to Strive for an Integrated Marketing Hub
Content Marketing Can be the Foundation

Red Lights:

  • Red Lights are attributed to lack of information sharing, disparate technology systems, complexity of marketing technology, lack of business case, and lack of leadership buy-in. 
  • Beware of disorder when different teams and different people are responsible for channels (web, mobile, blog) vs. marketing function (brand, product, demand generation).
  • There also exists the mistaken belief that “everyone” is our customer.

Integrate for Positive Outcomes

Source: London Research 2020

  • Improved quality of communication - 49%
  • Improved perception of brands - 45%
  • Improved consistency across marketing channels - 35%
  • Improved customer experience and loyalty - 34%
  • Reduced internal costs (staff) - 16%
  • Reduced internal costs tech - 9%

Next up in this blog series will be:

3 Types of Content Marketing 
Gaining Traction in the Age of Pandemics 


About the Author— Sharon MacLean

Entrepreneurship, Magazine Publishing, and Social Marketing are the threads that weave throughout my career. They reflect my professional life driven largely by purpose and relationships — most recently through WorldGate Media and Boards of Directors for TechInvest Alberta, and RoadShowz/StreetSeenz.

Yet, it was through starting up and running Edmontonians magazine for 21 years where a reputation for community engagement flourished. In some ways, I see the magazine that covered leaders of commerce and the community as a predecessor to social media!

My world changed dramatically in 2010 given the disruption of traditional media which led to the sale of the magazine…and my launch into new media.

The disruption opened doors for an investor start-up in online wellness with an international team. Experience with journalism media and community publishing incubated an understanding of content creation, distribution, and network platforms.

Every skill acquired during the foundational years has been leveraged to serve my passion for professional communications in the digital age.

Social enterprise fired up all my neurons and stretched my resilience. I now help professionals and business owners flourish using traditional and modern forms of communications marketing. Learn more.

Interested in this topic and others like it? Join us at CATALYST 2020 Management Consulting Conference, October 27-29! Visit the Conference website to get the details.