There’s a good (if sobering) article in the Atlantic Monthly that looks at best-case through worst-case scenarios for when things might return to something like normal after the Coronavirus pandemic. While the best-case scenario (two or three months) can’t be ruled out, it frankly just doesn’t seem very likely (and experts quoted in the article say as much). In all the other scenarios, I keep wondering: how are businesses going to get their messages in front of people? Things are bound to change drastically.

Actually, a confession. What I’m really wondering is How is MY business going to get its message in front of people?

But I’m not the only business with this problem, and one key takeaway from the article is that, pretty much no matter what happens, social distancing in some form or another is going to be with us for months, maybe even years. And part of that distancing scenario, even if we’re back in a world where you can safely venture to your local small restaurant, is that there won’t be mass gatherings like, say, big conferences.  

The no-conference zone

If a big part of your marketing is reaching out at conferences, you’re going to have to do something else. The obvious “something else” is to take your messaging online. But what does that actually mean? You were doing something online already, right? There are going to be lots of online webinars and podcasts and virtual conferences being produced, but that’s just the point: there’s going to be more corporate webcast dreck than ever in history out there.

So what are you going to do? What am I going to do?

One answer is SEO and content marketing, maybe now more than ever. That’s because people are still going to Google things they want to know about and there are still going to be top rankings in search results and those are still going to result in clickthroughs.  The competition will be stiffer than ever, but at least there will be winners and there are lots of possible keyword searches to try and win.

I think another answer will be video of some kind. I’m interested in this forthcoming app, Quibi. This is a heavily funded startup that’s going to be produce a bunch of “quick-bite” (qui-bi, get it?), ten-minute-or-less format entertainment videos. These are supposedly going to be television-quality production values, but produced for smartphone screens (I get the impression that they do some kind of reframing of the picture if you switch from vertical to horizontal viewing, though I may be wrong about that). Wouldn’t it be kind of fabulous if vendor presentations suddenly became entertaining and restricted to ten minutes?

So, I don’t know how that works. Vendors will tend to back away from actually being entertaining if that contradicts with the messaging mission (at least B2B vendors will, most of the time).

So maybe it’s time for a B2B tech video channel that’s in short formats. Why short formats? Because no new channel is going to have the budget, talent, etc, to go long form. I’m thinking it’s something more like short woodworking tip videos on YouTube. There’s probably also a useful precedent in the Hak5 YouTube series, though they aren’t really targeting B2B.

OK, so what are the “woodworking tips” that would make for actually engaging viewing on the cybersecurity front? Tougher question, but probably various series of videos that cover different kinds of “how-to” and perhaps some pieces that dig into specific forensic topics.

Finally, I suspect this can’t really be housed on YouTube, though I might be wrong about that. It seems to me, though, that you need some kind of gating mechanism, need to get data on viewers that could subsequently be nurtured into leads.