Even for companies and industries that are relatively unscathed during a national or worldwide crisis, there’s usually some type of impact, and businesses have to know how to adjust in a changing world, either permanently or temporarily.
As long as a business is still operating, marketing has to continue, but how the brand goes about marketing — where they promote themselves, the wording they use, the content they churn out — has to remain up to date with the times and sensitive to whatever crisis is at hand.
If you can leave an impression on your audience at a time when they need hope and help the most, they’ll always remember that, even as things return to normal. Let’s explore the dos and dont’s of content marketing during a crisis.
Do Assess Your Current and Planned Marketing Campaigns
When a crisis hits, you have to pause your marketing efforts and reassess them. Chances are you’re going to update the content and tone of the promotional material or even get rid of some components entirely and replace them to cater to the new normal.
Everything has to be reviewed and updated, from ads and social media posts to scheduled blog posts and the newsletter you send out every week, and since that’s likely a ton of content, you have to get everyone on board, from the customer service agents who chat one-on-one with customers to the marketing teams for each segment of marketing.
You’re not just updating your content to be aligned with and sensitive to the crisis. You should also update your tone, even if it’s a temporary update. For example, if your brand tone is usually funny and sarcastic, you might want to speak in a warmer, more sympathetic way for the time being. You’ll show your audience that your brand has different sides to its personality and that you can offer them what they need during difficult times.
Don’t Add Unhelpful Information to the Noise
During a crisis, customers are bombarded with the same information coming from every direction, and if you join in on that, you’ll just blend in and miss the chance to be helpful.
When a specific topic has already been covered in-depth by others, you should create content that fills in the gaps in information that is missed over and over. You’ll show that you’re a thought leader in your industry while telling people what they need to know but have had a hard time finding out.
And then, since some members of your audience may still need the oft-repeated information, link to a reputable source so they can find it or create pages on your site that include that info but that you don’t necessarily promote. It’s just there to buoy your other, more intriguing content and serve as information should someone need it.
There’s nothing wrong with aggregating or curating information from other sources, especially if those sources are more knowledgeable in a topic than you could expect to be. That also leaves you open to create in-depth content in the topics that you are an expert in and that will help your audience during this time.
Do Monitor the Crisis and Its Impact as It Changes
You also have to monitor the crisis and how it’s impacting customers over time. The impact a crisis has in the beginning will change: It could get worse or better with time, or it could simply take on new forms and encourage different behaviors. This is especially true if the crisis lasts through the holidays or the change of seasons.
Knowing how the crisis is impacting customers will guide your SEO efforts. For example, before the pandemic, a common search may have been “Italian food near me.” Mid-pandemic, when people are staying home more and getting takeout, that search may change to “Italian food for takeout” or “Italian food delivery near me.” By knowing how a crisis is impacting your audience, you can adjust your SEO to continually appeal to what they want right now.
Don’t Overwhelm Your Audience
Even a crisis that has kept everyone captive at home and constantly using social media isn’t an invitation to amp up what you send. People need to practice self-care during a crisis, and bombarding them with additional social media posts or emails simply because they’re home and online more isn’t a wise tactic. Plus, other brands are probably using this tactic too, which makes the endless promotional messages all the more annoying to your customers. This is the time to cut back and focus on quality over quantity.
There’s a lot to juggle when your business is continuing to run and market amid a crisis.
How can you show that you’re empathetic without coming off as fake? How can you offer valuable products or services without seeming as though you’re just trying to cash in on the situation? How can you support your audience and customers without being just one of many brands that are trying to compete for attention?
In general, answering those questions boils down to figuring out how your company is best able to help. That may mean directly helping the crisis, or it could mean helping customers deal with the many side effects or behaviors that result from the crisis. For example, during the COVID crisis, a medical or scientific company may help by supporting research efforts. A company that sells sports gear, though, may help by discounting their products or coming out with a line of products that can be used in a small living room, catering to the fact that so many people are staying inside right now.
As you go along and figure out how to market during a crisis, you should be building a communications guide as well. This way, everyone will know what and what not to do, and the next time a crisis hits, you’ll be prepared.
Brian Meert is the CEO of AdvertiseMint, a Hollywood based digital advertising agency that specializes in helping successful companies advertise on Facebook. Advertisemint has managed millions of dollars in digital ad spends in entertainment, fashion, finance, and software industries. Brian is also the author of the best selling, The Complete Guide to Facebook Advertising, and the innovative The Complete Guide to Digital Advertising Policies infographic. He is a 15-year digital advertising executive and a member of the Forbes Agency Council. Prior to founding Advertisemint, Brian built and sold Gofobo.com, an online ticketing system that revolutionized the entertainment industry and is now utilized by Warner Bros. and Disney.