Content marketing: what you shouldn't do during a crisis (and what you should do)

Understanding what not to do is often much more important than determining what you should, especially when it comes to a crisis. We have also been able to experience this firsthand during the global coronavirus pandemic. 

But as the rock group Queen once said, "the show must go on." So below I will describe Some ways you can use content to prevent a PR disaster and build goodwill with both current and potential customers.   

If you've been looking for guidance on how to navigate these murky waters using content marketing and thus avoiding common mistakes in the process, this guide is for you. 

The “Don'ts” of content marketing 

Would you like to be able to approach content marketing in a crisis the right way? Then begin by applying a strategy with your content. The ideal is to try create 80% of educational content and 20% of promotional content.   

In other words, eliminate everything that should not be done regarding the content to be shared and conclude with diligent work to continue with what you should do.  

Recommendations that content marketing should avoid in a crisis

Don't show a lack of empathy

The goal of content marketing is to educate or address customers' needs and offer solutions to alleviate their problem.. This is how new visitors to your blog or social networks become customers and customers become raving fans.  

But, it's important to keep in mind that customers can smell a lack of empathy from a mile away. If your content doesn't demonstrate that you understand their pain points and offer tangible solutions to address them, your customers will simply tune out. 

Empathy-driven content marketing requires you to identify your customers (and your broader audience) and talk to them regularly about:  

  • What are they struggling with? 
  • Tips that could help them address some of their pain points. 
  • What can you do to support them. 

This is especially true for content marketing in a crisis.  

It's also not about the generic “we're here for you” or “tell us how we can help” clichés. You must provide viable solutions or, at the very least, put your customers at ease through reassuring or hopeful messages. for the future through educational content. 

During the Covid-19 pandemic, some cases of errors in marketing messages have been seen where there is clearly a lack of empathy in which it seems that this terrible situation is being taken advantage of to promote a product or service.  

However, you don't even have to put yourself in your client's shoes to be empathetic. You are already a client for other companies and you are struggling with this global crisis.  

As a customer, how would you like to be contacted? What type of content, tone and message would put you at ease? You can write down your ideas in a mind map and use it as a reference when writing your copies.

Los “No” del marketing de contenidos

Don't ignore the crisis 

In this crisis you have probably noticed two types of companies:  

  1. Companies that take the time to help customers and the community at large.
  2. Those companies that chug along pretending that everything is business as usual. 

And it is very likely that you, like me, probably do not like the second type of business. Staying silent during a global pandemic is not only unpleasant, but it will also affect your brand reputation and make potential customers think twice before doing business with your company in the future.  

But don't take my word for it, check out this excerpt direct from the H+K company on how Covid-19 is changing consumer purchasing behavior:  

“Consumers expect brands to shift their business priorities and resources to appropriately respond and adapt to current challenges, even if this results in suffering significant economic losses. Unsurprisingly, consumers expect brands to produce products that help consumers with current challenges and communicate transparently with stakeholders. Beyond these expectations, consumers want companies to further support the crisis by donating a portion of sales to local hospitals and/or partnering with other brands to maximize the impact of their efforts.” 

I'm not saying you should start plastering the word "Covid-19" on your websites, ads, billboards, or social media content.  You also don't need to mention him by name, but recognize the fact that he does. We are going through a crisis and this should be reflected in the messages and content you share. 

Let's also take beer maker Corona and how they dealt with sharing a name with a global pandemic. This is what they published in a tweet in March 2020:  

“It is fair to say that it has been a difficult start to the year for everyone. God blessed us with the same name and we want to hold ourselves accountable. So the proceeds from every Corona beer we sell in March will go towards purchasing masks and distributing them in high-risk areas. – CEO of Corona”.  

Bottom line: when things get tough, don't stay silent! Talk to your stakeholders, investors, community and your customers in general about your plans to deal with this crisis effectively. This brings me to my next point. 

Qué sí hacer en marketing de contenidos

What to do in content marketing 

Once you've avoided what not to do, it's time to buckle down and start doing. things that will positively influence your marketing strategy. 

Recommendations for content marketing in a crisis

Focus on educational content

In this pandemic, people have not stopped searching for information online, they are just looking for different things now.  This means one simple thing: in these difficult times, your audience has changed their priorities. They want you to teach them and not sell to them. And with keywords like “work from home” seeing 3,00% more searches in March 2020 compared to the same period last year, now is the time for creative searches. 

Which keywords are trending strongly upwards? Can you create inspiring or educational content around complementary but trending topics? What content can you create now that will be useful to readers six months or a year from now?  

The ideal is show empathy towards changing customer needs. Keep SEO trends in mind during the content creation stage and double down on educational content if you want your business to surf the waves of this storm.  

It even occurs to us that the type of content that helps to better understand the crisis that is being experienced can be well appreciated by your followers. How about one timeline of the pandemic, for example? Or perhaps an infographic that explains how people can get the coronavirus. 

Provides company updates 

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Above all, now is the time to Inform your clients about any changes to their business.  

This doesn't just apply to changing business hours or sending updates. This is a great opportunity for your company to be empathetic to your customers and their changing needs.  

Start by thinking about How your company can help your customers right now; especially the people who have been directly affected by this crisis. Consider the following questions: 

  • Can you offer them free shipping? 
  • Can you offer free access to premium tools to help customers operating local businesses? 
  • Can you create an educational content hub that can help your customers navigate this crisis effectively?  

Whatever you can do to help, now is the time to do it. Once things are running as usual, customers will remember you as someone who helped them instead of trying to sell to them by taking advantage of the moment.  

What will all this result in? In a better customer perception and trust in your brand and by extension an increase in sales.


The content marketing approach in a crisis 

How should we face a crisis? Maybe it is a biased opinion, but we must do a decent job that allows us to continue carrying out all the actions we should do and stay away from what should not be done. 

Not only that, we must take measures to mitigate the impacts of Covid-19 on our business as soon as an abnormal situation is declared. 

These are some of our recommendations (see infographic designed by Venngage): 

  • Talk to our users.  Send surveys and maintain conversations with our clients that allow us to know and understand their weak points in a crisis situation.
  • Track search trends. Stay on top of SEO trends and create content around ancillary topics (keyword trends and insights). 
  • We duplicate the content we generate. Instead of playing it safe, do your best to publish new educational and inspiring content. 

Your clients need you 

Covid-19 isn't going away anytime soon and until the dust settles, this will be the new normal for a while.  Over time, marketers will move on and approach content marketing as they always have. Until we get to that time, keep these best practices in mind:  

  • Avoid what you shouldn't do. 
  • Focus on the jobs people need to do: What other jobs can clients hire you for? Make those works stand out in your content and messaging. 
  • Apply the GRAP framework: A content strategy that focuses on objectives, research, authority and promotion to aim for success.  

There really is no definitive manual on content marketing in a crisis. We're all figuring things out as we go. Sharing what we've learned with each other as we navigate this crisis can help other companies do things differently (or avoid making costly mistakes in the first place). 

Listen to your customers and give them what they need. Even if all else fails, empathy and customer-driven content marketing won't. 


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