The Coronavirus (COVID-19) spread has impacted virtually every industry across the world. Quarantine restrictions and preventive measures are keeping clients from visiting bricks and mortar stores, logistical issues are affecting e-sales, and manufacturing closures are letting companies run out of stock.
Additionally, COVID-19-related content has flooded media outlets, catching everyone’s undivided attention. In turn, companies are struggling with the creation of relevant content that could keep their heads above water during this crisis. Marketers and content creators need to figure out how to communicate and connect with audiences effectively.
As a content creator, I frequently talk about how being agile and flexible can help brands profit from shifts in the market and competitive threats. Small changes are easy to undertake. But, what happens when a worldwide crisis affects all aspects of your business model— from cost structure and resources to communicational channels and revenue streams? Well, here is where all that talk about agility and flexibility comes into play!
So, below I will share strategies and valuable tactics to help your brand adjust and manage the Coronavirus crisis:
• Develop a solid communication strategy
The first thing you need to do is figure out how you want to approach the pandemic. Keep it simple! You do not need a 100-page manual explaining your new approach. What you do need is a concise framework outlining:
- New goals
- A realistic plan of action
- Your key message
- The metrics you will use to measure your progress
Also, you must make sure that all team members know (and understand) the new approach. One misstep could spiral into a real problem, as audiences are now more sensitive than ever.
• Re-think your marketing strategies
It is not the time to fall through the cracks and drift into oblivion—quite the opposite! You need to remind customers that, even if you temporarily close, you are still here. Hence, instead of pausing all your marketing efforts, re-think your approach and revise your tactics.
I suggest you start by redistributing your marketing budget and focusing your efforts on low-cost marketing strategies, such as:
- Social media practices
- Online advertising
- E-mail marketing campaigns
- Guerrilla marketing
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Public relations’ exercises
• Connect with your audience
Focusing only on profits, given the current situation, will not do your brand any favors – in fact, it may work against it. So, what does this mean in terms of content? It is pretty simple. The key is to align your message with consumer sentiments and “new realities.”
Thus, do not think in terms of product! People do not care about the newest phone you are launching into the market or the “top five must-have bags of the season.” Avoid all content that could be deemed as insensitive or trivial. These are emotional times, and customers need and crave emotional connections.
So, I suggest you dedicate a social media post to all the health workers helping us fight the virus, start a crowdfunding campaign to help those in need, write a blog post about the “benefits of working from home,” or send out a newsletter thanking your team. This type of content will get you the attention your brand desperately needs.
• Develop content that promotes interaction
Today, more than ever, you need to encourage customer interaction. Developing interactive content during times of crisis comes with many advantages, such as:
- Higher engagement rate — according to recent statistics, even a poorly executed piece of interactive content has a higher engagement rate than a great piece of ‘conventional’ content.
- Captures relevant data — quizzes, polls, and other interactive content allows customers to provide you with instant feedback. Thus, it might be an excellent opportunity to get to know your target audience better and pivot accordingly.
- Increases brand loyalty — interactive content has a higher chance of being liked and shared by consumers; it also helps develop brand loyalty as people feel they are part of a community where their opinion is valued.
So, community managers, copywriters, writers, graphic designers… now is your time to shine! Let’s get that wheel spinning by brainstorming ideas that can maximize your brand’s customer engagement. And if you are unsure of how to start, do what any good content creator would do, as yourself: “Would I read/like/share this if I were a consumer?” If the answer is no, then you should not be using it.
• Keep it real!
Many brands feel hesitant as to whether or not they should show customers their weaknesses or flaws. When the truth is that audiences are now more receptive than ever before, to information that seems genuine and authentic. In other words, if your brand is struggling to get stock due to manufacturing closures or to keep up with high demand, say so!
Keeping your customers informed about what is going on is vital during a crisis. So, go ahead and publish content that reveals a more ‘humanized’ side of your brand.
For example, if you are a restaurant and you are having trouble keeping up with the increased demand for home deliveries, you should avoid phrases such as: “We are experiencing logistical difficulties. We apologize for the inconvenience.” The sentiment is there, but the approach is wrong. Instead, try sounding more relatable by saying things like: “We know you are hungry! And we are doing our best to get your food to you as fast as we possibly can. So please bear with us, it will be worth your while!”
It is not the time to sound ‘corporate’ or unreachable. All the content you are putting out there must feel genuine and real. During a crisis, customers appreciate and value honesty. After all, no company could have anticipated this kind of situation.
There you have it! A few pointers on how to keep your content relevant during the pandemic. And remember, there is no “magic recipe” as to what works or does not work. A fundamental part of crisis management is learning to adjust. Thus, if your content is not meeting your expectations, re-think, edit, and try again.