How to Create the Right Content during a Crisis

Posted Apr 26th, 2020 in Entrepreneurship, Crisis Communications, Social Media, Strategic Communications

How to Create the Right Content during a Crisis

The global crisis we find ourselves in has upended our economy and forced brands to pivot their marketing plans to meet the needs of their audiences. Marketing during a crisis means that planned content business owners had on their calendars, required a ‘hold-stop’ or needed updating to meet the new needs of their audiences. There are some key steps to take to make sure you as a business owner are creating the right content during a time of crisis.

Priority for certain sections of the Sales Funnel changed almost overnight. It shifted from closing sales to building brand awareness about how your business is responding to the crisis and information about how you are supporting your customers during this crisis. 

The main question to ask is, “How can I be a resource to my customers?”

Creating content is something you as a business owner can and should do during a crisis. Here are some steps to make sure you are creating the right content and delivering it in the right way, to meet the needs of your customers.

1. Review and update your business plan - including sales & marketing.

Before getting started, review your current business plans, including your sales & marketing strategies, so that you are developing content to support your current goals.    

Make a new action plan. Not all crises are the same, but the COVID-19 crisis that we find ourselves in now is continuously changing as further information develops. Make sure to put a crisis plan in place that is agile. See notes below on tools to use for creating a content plan. Using the same platform or integrated platforms for all your business plans helps with productivity, accuracy and efficiency. Continue to review and update your plan as needed.

2. Update your Target Audience Personas

Your target audience personas are an essential part of your sales & marketing plan and it needs to be reviewed and updated. 

The needs, motivators, challenges, priorities, and even how your audiences communicate are different. Right now, the current worldwide health pandemic family and work-life changed when ‘rest-in-place’ was initiated. People are spending more time on social media to consume information, and even the time spent on specific platforms changed. People are purchasing different products, activities are home-based, and the need for virtual office equipment and tools as people transitioned to a work-from-home environment are just a few changes.

3. Conduct a content audit.

Next, do an audit of what you have. What is still appropriate to use now, and what can be updated to meet the current needs. Time is of the essence during a crisis, and updating content is often easier than replacing it. However, don’t sacrifice the quality of your content to make it easier for your schedule. If you aren’t sure if it is the right content to post at this time, just put it aside, as you may be able to re-use it after the crisis.  

As part of your content audit, review and update what channels you will use the most during this crisis and how you will manage these channels. Your primary digital channels typically include your website, email marketing, and social media.

Communication is key to maintaining relationships with your customers during a crisis. It is better to have fewer channels and do them well, than have many channels that you are unable to maintain. Each channel has a unique function and time requirements.

Your time and other resources may be different now, so factor this into your plan. Your website is critical to be always updated, but social media has a different purpose. Do your research to see where your audience is spending the most time gathering their information, and then spend the majority of your time creating content, and engaging on, those channels.

4. Build your marketing team. 

Make sure you have the supports in place to be able to update your content regularly. If you need help, this is the time to ask. During this crisis, there are government supports in place for free information and consulting. There are also new graduate marketing students that are often looking for experience to build their portfolios and willing to offer free or low-cost services. Many marketing agencies are also willing to reduce their prices to support their clients.    

5. Create a new content plan

Get your team together, even if you are a team of one, then set aside some time to put together a content marketing plan. Since you will need to access your plan often, use a calendar template or project management software that you can access on multiple devices. Examples include Google Drive, Dropbox, ASANA, and Trello. If you are working with a marketing consultant or internal team, make sure everyone has access to the files and agree on a process to create, review & publish content. 

6. Start now! Content ideas and key takeaways.

There is no better time than the present, to pivot your content marketing strategy. Get started by reviewing and updating your business plan, revisit your audience personas, and then conduct an audit of the content you have and the channels you are using. Put your marketing team together, create a new plan, and then start making and publishing content.

Let them know how you are currently meeting the needs of your clients during this time. Sharing information with your clients about your business during a time of crisis is a good way to stay in touch with your audiences. You are letting them know you are still in business and available to support them. 

  • Without being too promotional, what products or services do you offer them now that they may need?  
  • Do you have a discount, a free giveaway, or extra support that you can offer? 
  • What are you doing to provide them with a safe and effective way to do business with your brand? 
  • How can they get in touch with you?  
  • How can you be a resource to them during this time?  

What is important to remember is the style and type of content are different then pre-crisis. First and foremost, be compassionate, sensitive and considerate when creating content and communicating with your audiences. Listen carefully to the needs of your audience, spend time engaging with them, and respond to their needs by sharing quality, timely and resourceful content.

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