How many times over the past few months have you been told that you must weather the storm of this unprecedented crisis? Business leaders from across sectors have been flooding to online outlets to offer their tips on how to get through the coronavirus crisis, adapt to changing circumstances, and best leverage the “new normal” to their advantage. While there is ample opportunity for thought leaders to meaningfully add to the conversation (especially as business content consumption continues to rise) it’s easy for these contributions to get lost in a sea of generic advice.
Guidance for organizations that are struggling amidst the current economic challenges must be original, targeted and strongly evidenced. There is no point regurgitating the same recommendations that are already out there: think about what you and your business can offer that no one else can. And remember, providing leadership pieces that educate fellow professionals and demonstrate your expertise is not only a way to give back to the business community, but it’s also great for marketing and PR.
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Here’s how you can create expert pieces that deliver value and rise above the noise
Keep your audience specific
If you’re deliberating creating content that addresses the entirety of the business landscape and delivers insights that are applicable across industries, stop right there. Unfortunately, there is rarely a way to provide actionable advice on such a broad scale without coming off as generic and stating the obvious. Simply telling companies to “pivot their business model to cater to changing consumer preferences” might be relevant to multiple sectors, but it’s already been said thousands of times before and doesn’t offer anything tangible.
Instead, take a step back and try to nail down your target audience. You can narrow them down by sector and business size, which is a good way to keep your advice original and specifically-suited to the reader’s individual circumstances.
For example, if you come from a background of SaaS startups and that’s where your expertise lies, address those in this industry. Offering tailored points around how to use data on product use to upsell or prevent customer churn during difficult times is much more practical than simply advising readers to get to know their customers.
On the other hand, if your business has a physical element that’s been impacted by the pandemic, you can leverage this, too. Offering practical solutions that are tailored to your industry around things like safely returning to the workplace or expanding digital offerings will help keep your messaging targeted.
Avoid throwing around too much data
By now, your readers are well aware of the gravity of the situation, and they don’t need to read countless statistics about market devaluations and mass layoffs that aren’t relevant to them specifically. Instead, carefully select a few relevant, up-to-date statistics from reliable sources that your reader might not know that can help inform their future actions.
For example, professionals that work in fintech might prefer to see stats on how microlenders in different geographical regions have been affected, rather than general COVID-19 figures that they already read daily.
Trusted resources like McKinsey are consistently pushing out industry reports in areas such as banking and cybersecurity to help organizations better understand their respective markets during this time. By sharing the most applicable statistics and facts from trusted sources for your readers, you’ll avoid overloading them with the same information that they’re seeing everywhere else and ensure that your article delivers that all-important value factor.
Above all, the content you provide must be relevant to the fast-changing circumstances at play. Pay attention to timelines and the latest developments so your content is hitting the mark when its released.
Offer experience-based advice
Readers seeking business advice want to see evidence, examples and stories of what worked from industry thought leaders. While every business is different, seeing how certain actions have been tried and tested by their peers will help organizations understand whether or not they could apply a similar methodology to their own situation.
Not only does including examples from your own journey of adapting to the changing landscape give you a personalized edge, but it also provides more solid recommendations than theoretical tips that haven’t been put into practice.
For example, this Forbes article doesn’t simply tell businesses in the real estate and retail industries to start using virtual reality (VR) to help them mitigate the effects of COVID-19. It gives real-life examples of VR use cases to evidence the technology’s potential and even offers figures on the results of the approach.
Sharing details about the business decisions you’ve executed, the challenges that came with them, and the results that they’ve produced is a fast-track way to gain the attention of readers that have found themselves in the same boat.
Don’t make sweeping statements or predictions
The pandemic isn’t over yet. While many businesses are returning to the workplace and regaining optimism in the economic landscape, it’s important to avoid making assertive predictions about the future. Many governments are still uncertain about the extent to which certain sectors will be allowed to return to something close to pre-crisis levels of operation. Not to mention, we are only just witnessing how businesses that have reopened are fairing during the “new normal.”
In fact, U.S. Federal Reserve officials were still warning in mid-June that “there’s probably never been more uncertainty” around the country’s economic outlook.
During times like these, the startup community needs to stick together. By committing to relevant knowledge sharing and delivering real value to your customers and peers, you can make important contributions to the economic battle against the impact of the pandemic – and gain some visibility in the process.