When the world is turned upside down, businesses often don’t know how they should respond when it comes to content and marketing.
For some, ‘business as usual’ seems like the best approach, while for others the reaction is to reframe all communications in light of the crisis.
Get it wrong, and you can cause real damage to your reputation, relationships, and brand. But get it right, and you can enjoy benefits that translate to more sales and improved conversions in the long run.
Whether your crisis is industry specific, geographically specific, or, at the time I’m writing this, the global COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, there are right and wrong ways to create content and communicate with your audience.
If you’re feeling like you need to put some content out during these days of lockdown to keep your brand’s voice active, follow the advice below and you shouldn’t put a foot wrong.
Review your existing messaging
This should be number one on your to-do list during a crisis.
Many a brand has been undone by an email or tweet — written and scheduled sometime previously — which sounds insensitive or tone-deaf in light of the new situation.
Examples of how NOT to do it from the current COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic include the US-based Spirit Airlines, which told its customers ‘Never a better time to fly’ as travel restrictions were being imposed, and beer brand Corona, which pressed on with a ‘Coming Ashore’ campaign for a new product while already being hit by reduced sales (it’s in the name).
This isn’t an instruction to chuck everything you’ve planned in the trash, but you might need to make tweaks to acknowledge what’s going on or to avoid putting your brand’s foot in its mouth.
So before you go any further, make a note to review all pre-written or scheduled content so your business doesn’t end up trending on Twitter for all the wrong reasons.
People’s emotions are heightened during a crisis, and the last thing they want to read is anonymous, corporate content.
Now, ‘anonymous and corporate’ isn’t a great content approach at the best of times, but speaking in a familiar way and using accessible language is extra important when you want to demonstrate empathy and understanding.
If you’re creating content that addresses the crisis itself, acknowledge people’s fears and the challenges they might be experiencing. Be upfront about the ways your business might be affected, and be honest if you don’t know what the outcome will be.
During a crisis, there’s a lot of ‘noise’ being pushed out by companies, all wanting to demonstrate how they’re reacting in a positive way.
It’s tempting to jump on the bandwagon, but your message can get lost in the volume of content. You end up becoming part of the problem.
If you have something worthwhile and of value to contribute to the conversation then do so. If not, then don’t feel compelled to follow everyone else’s lead and pump out content for the sake of it.
After all, differentiation and standing out should be an aim of all content marketing. That’s even more important when everyone around you is freaking out.
By their very nature, crises are unpredictable and fast changing.
While it’s important to be proactive with content marketing, you also need to be able to respond to situations.
Make sure your content creation team is kept updated and has capacity, so that if you need them to turn something around at short notice, they have as much background information and time as they need.
Offer real solutions
Content marketing has the biggest impact when it helps people remove pains and overcome challenges.
During a crisis is the time when people are looking for solutions more than ever, so make sure your content helps your audiences in their search for a solution. Ideally, they won’t need to search for anything else after they’ve found your content, but if you can’t help then you should signpost them to other useful resources.
Think about this article; I wrote it because at the moment, lots of businesses are finding themselves shut down and having to communicate 100% digitally. For a lot of people this is a new thing, and it’s easy to (a) not know where to start and (b) make mistakes that are avoidable.
Think about what your experience, your expertise, or your offering could help people with during the crisis you’re undergoing. Write about that.
Selling comes last (or not at all)
This section should go without saying, as content marketing is the opposite of the overtly salesy approach of traditional advertising.
Some people will exploit the opportunity to make a fast buck. As a brand, you might be able to cash in on a crisis, but if you do take a sales-heavy approach, you’re likely to be punished for it.
Audiences don’t take kindly to brands taking exploitative, unethical, or sly approaches to making extra money out of a time of crisis. Your approach might be none of those, but if you handle it in a clumsy enough way, that can be the perception.
So, how do you link your content to your company?
We always talk about the importance of a compelling call to action to end every piece of content, so your audience knows what the next step is or how to become a customer. That’s as relevant as ever, but make sure it’s proportionate; don’t ruin your quality content with a ham-fisted pitch!
Follow the guidelines above and you’ll be able to create content that strengthens your brand identity, builds your reputation, and gives you a consistent presence as you weather the storm to come out the other side.
If you need help communicating with your customers, give the team at Prize Content a call to see what we can do for your business.