When a crisis strikes, be it a natural disaster, pandemic, catastrophic market shift, or economic decline, company leaders scurry with the rest of society to make ends meet or, at least, keep them in sight of one another. Often, the first logical budget cut when looking to preserve or salvage your company’s integrity is marketing. After all, who are you going to market to when your customer base has been upended by disaster?
The truth is, your audience needs your words more than ever when they are shaken by uncertainty.
Content marketing is an incredible force that keeps your company in front of customers and on top of trends, market shifts, and information your team may otherwise not be tracking or using to move your company forward during a crisis. This particular business strategy assures you stay tapped into your target audience’s needs as they evolve and that your brand’s voice remains a source of comfort, inspiration, and resolution.
Here are a few of the ways your content can make a big difference when your customers need it most:
Let customers know you hear/see them
Engaging with your customers ranks right at the top of your marketing strategy. In fact, unless they know you see them and will respond to their needs, you cannot possibly establish a connection that elicits their devotion. There’s never a more critical time to assure them you see and hear them than when their needs shift unexpectedly, such as during a crisis.
Your content marketing strategy can take the lead during this time. By following along with the shares, posts, and feedback from your customers, you are able to build content around offering solutions and calming their fears.
Share accurate/up-to-date facts
To that point, there is going to be a plethora of contradicting information circulating the web. From opposing political opinions to mainstream media competition, fact-checking is likely to be second to ratings. It’s sad but true.
First and foremost, it’s critical YOU do your research and look to factual resources, such as data released by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA), and so on. Stick to the stats and facts that support your points without leading your readers or opening up your content for misinterpretation.
Positioning yourself as a resource for accurate and up-to-date information helps build trust in the reliability of your brand.
During a time of crisis, many people panic. They focus only on how they can provide for themselves and their families. Herd mentality is a destructive force, and because people narrow their line of vision, they disconnect from reality and, sometimes, even humanity.
This is the best time for your brand to use content to help people stay in touch with what really matters by demonstrating empathy.
Respond to customers’ comments and concerns across social media and through direct messages promptly and personally. Use these moments to learn about what your audience needs assistance working through. And build content out around helping customers not only relate to your brand but to each other.
Also, they may not consider that you and your team are working through similar struggles. By showing genuine concern for their circumstances and practicing patience and understanding through your content, you can make a significant impact on their day. This is likely to influence how they show empathy and support for others going through the crisis.
Encourage social consciousness
Along the same line of helping your customers relate to one another and show grace, you can use your content to offer actionable advice or share real-life stories of social consciousness. This can be as simple as posting pictures of your team correctly practicing health and safety recommendations.
If you’ve gone to greater efforts to social distance in your office, for example, your content can become a narrative explaining why your team has shifted workplace routines or office layouts. Being honest about how it’s impacting workflow, such as describing new obstacles and how your team overcomes them, helps your audience grow in your brand’s authenticity.
Anyone on the web can share their ‘best practices’ for how the workplace can become a safer, more productive space for employees…and trust me, anyone and everyone will. But if you can make the steps your employees are taking relatable for the general public, you all them to connect with real people and real solutions.
Helping your customers see the big picture of their self-awareness and social consciousness makes a bigger impact on the number of people contributing to the solutions rather than the problems.
Show how your brand is making an impact
Your content should never boast about what your company is doing. But having a content strategy in place to share your social impact is inspiring for your audience. During a crisis, especially, people become consumed in the news. And let’s be real, there are more negative and terrifying updates shared across news outlets than uplifting stories.
Your company may have the means to donate funds and resources to greater causes during a crisis. If this is the case, don’t hesitate to share stories about who benefits and how. These are the facts your readers want and need to hear about rather than what your company has done.
Chances are if you are in an area or industry directly affected by a natural disaster or health crisis, your financial priorities have had to shift. You can use your content to show customers how the most you [they] can do is more than enough to make an impact on the big picture.
Align your sharing with your company values and mission. Share facts about where any donation, big or small, can be made, how to create disaster relief packages or the dos and don’ts of personal consumption and care during a crisis. Use your content to help others feel their value and understand how their choices affect others.
Keep everyone aware of developments
Just because time seems to stand still for most people when in crisis mode, that doesn’t mean your business development has halted. This is true even if your big goals are not being ‘right now.’ Seeing the ways your company keeps moving forward during hard times instills hope and creates a sense of calm for your customers.
Posting content discussing details of progress both in your company and across the industry reassures customers that solutions are in the works and meeting their needs, short and long-term, is still your priority.
Naturally, you need to be conscious of how you’re positioning your content from a marketing perspective during a crisis. You could be updating products or services that are not valuable for your customers at the moment. They may like to hear about these developments, but consider how you use your words to inform rather than promote something they cannot afford to invest in.
Make new connections
People crawl the internet more than ever during a time of crisis. They are looking for supplies, information, support, and answers. Your company can likely provide most of that in some shape or form. While your primary focus with your content strategy is to keep your current customer base engaged (and maybe even a little distracted from the chaos), this is the prime opportunity for you to connect new potential customers.
Your current followers are likely to share your content, and word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool. Even if your solutions are unrelated to your product or service, your brand’s voice and its impact can make a lasting impression. And if you’re doing your research and listening to your customers, you will pick up on gaps where your brand can build a bridge with valuable future content.
This is especially true if you can look for ways to take timely topics and urgent concerns to create evergreen content that will prove your value and, most importantly, make a difference for customers for years to come.