Could Harriet Tubman be the face of your next marketing campaign?

Even if you weren't part of the campaign, you are probably aware that Harriet Tubman will take Andrew Jackson's place on the 20-dollar-bill being the first woman in more than a century and the first African American woman to appear on a paper note. That's because we feel a strong personal and cultural connection to big events like these.

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Events that capture the attention of millions are worth capitalizing on. In fact, any national or local current event that naturally connects with your audience; is in some way relevant to your business or industry; and gets you excited about creating content is a potential goldmine.

Okay. So how do you get started?

Keep an open mind.

Content inspiration is everywhere you look. You just need to be open to it when it comes your way. Even something as inconvenient as the Godzilla of snowstorms or the DC Metro shutdown or Donald Trump's campaign for president (which seems more and more surreal each day) can lend itself to writing about business lessons.

Current events can also inspire marketing campaigns. Successful marketing is all about capturing the attention of your target audience (or really their lizard brains), so if you choose your event wisely, it can do a lot of the heavy-lifting for you. Have you been considering running a promotion? Would it make sense to develop the promo around a current event to get more mileage out of it? For example, take a page from Amazon's playbook. When the FAA decided to allow passengers to use electronic devices during flight takeoff and landing, Amazon ran a huge, one-day sale on the Kindle.

Keep your finger on the pulse of your industry.

There are tons of reasons why it's important for us small business owners to keep track of news events and policy changes that could affect our businesses, but creating content is high on the list. If it's relevant, it's bound to produce a buzz. But if something relevant pops up and people are not buzzing, you have a great opportunity to point it out. That's exactly what happened with one of my most successful blog posts ever: Why Small Businesses MUST Focus on Net Neutrality.

I know what you're thinking: "Erika, who has the time to keep up with business trends? I'm trying to run a business here!" But it doesn't take long to scan the headlines on your industry's top publications or a few blog posts from your favorite industry leaders each week (you've made your way to my blog after all). It helps to keep a running list. Then choose a topic about which you have something to say and dive in!

Don't keep your opinions to yourself.

Okay, now, since I know how smart my readers are, I know you won't take this one the wrong way. Obviously, be reasonable about what you share publically. But if there is a policy or big event that could potentially impact the way you and others in your industry do business, taking a stance could help your brand. For example, business owners in North Carolina have added their businesses to a map of "safe bathrooms" in response to a discriminatory bill requiring people to use the bathroom corresponding to their biological sex. By taking a stance on a controversial matter, you could create some discussion and feedback, which leads to more page visits and shares on social media.

What's in it for you and your business?

  • Your content is cutting-edge, which makes your business appear fresh and makes you look like a trend-setter instead of a trend-watcher.
  • You set yourself apart from the competition as an expert in your industry.
  • You capitalize on something that is already in the forefront of everyone's minds.

Are there any drawbacks?

  • Remember that unlike Evergreen topics, current events are short-lived. So you need to "strike while the iron's hot," as the adage says. Don't put off blog posts on current events.
  • If you have a different plan, consider whether changing directions at the last minute will pay off. There's a lot to be gained if your content is in the right place at the right time.
  • Be careful about seeming insensitive. Some events (think large numbers of casualties or serious personal tragedy) are totally off limits. Others require tact and a soft touch to make an appropriate emotional connection with your audience. So use your best judgment here.

What current events have you used to your business's advantage? Let me know how you've used current events to market your business.

Erika Dickstein is a Web Strategist located in the DC metro area. She
specializes in working with small businesses on creating strategic
goal-oriented websites. You can connect with her at www.springinsight.com.