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How To Turn Your Content When the Economy Leads Your Audience To Twist


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With the economy in flux, the only certainty is uncertainty.

As your audience reacts to the ups and downs, you must evolve your content strategy to adapt to their reactions.

Robert Rose, CMI’s chief strategy advisor, and Jane Qin Medeiros, general manager of StudioID, engaged in conversation in March about how marketers can take advantage of an economic downturn (registration required). Since then, the economic outlook has only gotten murkier.

Evolve your #ContentStrategy to adapt to your audience’s reaction to the economy’s ups and downs, says @juliapizzolato via @Robert_Rose @thestudio_id‘s Jan Qin Medeiros @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Does it really matter what the economy does?

Though recession predictions grew this past year, the economy has not realized it. Employment numbers are still good, and inflation seems to have slowed. However, the U.S. gross domestic product slid to 1.1% in the first quarter of the year, a significant drop from 2.6% in the fourth quarter of 2022.

All this economic guessing creates an atmosphere of uncertainty or, as Robert calls it, “other shoe-ism.” Buyers hesitate to make big decisions because they’re waiting for the other “economic shoe” to drop. They don’t know what to expect or when to expect it.

In an uncertain economy, buyers experience “other shoe-ism,” says @Robert_Rose. They hesitate to buy because they’re waiting for the other economic shoe to drop via @juliapizzolato @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Robert and Jane say marketers should react to and be proactive about their audience’s evolution.

Keep up with your audience

When economic downturns occur, Jane says, three buyer persona attributes manifest themselves:

  • Save now – people (or companies) who cut all unnecessary costs and start saving
  • Conservation – people (or companies) who don’t cut or buy anything
  • Opportunity – people (or companies) who spend on the things to help them make the most of a challenging situation

Jane says you should incorporate these new persona attributes into your content marketing strategy. By understanding the related changing needs and pain points, you can create content that delivers the value they need now to do their jobs better.

But how do you know which downturn persona fits your audience and if the existing persona still targets the right audience? You can interview recent customers or survey your audience.

Look to aligning with sales. It’s always important, but it’s vital during economic fluctuations, Robert says. Given that the sales team acts as your brand’s frontline with prospects and customers, they can give feedback to help uncover what your customers think and need.

It’s vital to align with sales during economic fluctuations, says @Robert_Rose via @juliapizzolato @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Is your evergreen content turning brown?

After updating your buyer personas, it’s time for a quick content audit to ensure previously published content can still help your target audience and doesn’t appear out of touch or insensitive to the current environment. I call this content marketing’s version of reading the room.

Reviewing the analytics in this audit also can be helpful. For example, a drop (or boost) in traffic or engagement around a topic or category could indicate an opportunity to mitigate (or expand) that subject area. The same analysis works for individual pieces of content.

Robert says successful marketers can pivot topics to meet their audience’s needs at the moment, even if that content isn’t about your brand and products. He calls that creating “conscious experiences.”

You also can repurpose the content that still performs well and works in the current conditions. For example, you could edit webinar footage into a fun TikTok video. Or turn quotes from a popular blog article into a LinkedIn carousel. But, of course, it also works the other way – expand a successful social media post into a long-form article.

Innovate internally and don’t go on hold

Though you may want to weather the economic climate by performing only the day-to-day content marketing tasks, don’t. Instead, rethink your content marketing systems and processes.

Robert advises outsourcing “machine-basic table stakes things” rather than innovative ideas. Working on innovation in-house works better because your subject matter experts can more easily help hone and refine them. As a result, you’ll find more success than your competitors who outsource their content marketing innovations.

Also, resist the temptation to put projects on hold. If they’re worth doing, continue to do them. Robert explains the effect of a hiatus on his podcast with CMI founder Joe Pulizzi – This Old Marketing. They took a year away from the podcast. When they returned, it took more than four years to build the momentum they had when they went on hiatus.

Either kill a project or do it, but never put yourself in the position of starting over.

Stay flexible

Your audience wants to be seen and heard by your brand. They want to know you understand them. In a fluctuating economy, their needs and wants may shift, and your content plans must adjust to reflect those changes.

To understand the audience’s evolution, look at your content data and, more importantly, connect with your customers and prospects – and those who work with them – to uncover the changes you need to address.

Now is not the time to be stuck in your content strategy ways. Instead, embrace change, and you’ll embrace the audience that comes with it.

Want more content marketing tips, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.


Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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