Four key steps to using content marketing during COVID-19

Not a day goes by or indeed a minute when we don’t use the C- word. It is the topic that has literally gone viral affecting every aspect of our lives – work, rest and play.

It therefore stands to reason that marketeers have jumped on the bandwagon to get involved in the biggest and most controversial conversation since Brexit. Some doing so out of necessity – such as finance, insurance, legal and health brands – others shoehorning it in, or filling a void to replace delayed or abandoned campaigns, when they really have nothing of value to add to the dialogue or debate.

Here are four ways content marketing can truly add value as we all navigate blindly through this unprecedented pandemic that has the world under siege. Actually five if you include humour. Afterall, if we all come out of this crisis with our health, sanity and a smile, we’ll all be winning.

1. Provide empathetic alerts

As we all adapt to juggling remote working, social distancing and home-schooling, getting tone and content right has never been more vital in order to realign with the new norm. While some businesses are flourishing, others are failing. Individuals are losing livelihoods and loved ones and need to be treated with compassion and sensitivity – not contrived, corporate content or meaningless monologues.

However, many companies have a duty – legally or morally to inform users of changes and updates in response to this crisis. But how they deliver this is key.

One of the most effective ways to alert users of important COVID-19 information is using a specialist hub on your homepage.

Email comms should be timely, relevant and concise – and only broadcast when you have something important to say. Don’t bombard people when they are already burdened.

During such a stressful time, your target audience that is affected by COVID-19 should have easy access to straight-forward, honest and empathetic information – don’t add to their stress with confusing or conflicting information that is hidden eight clicks away. Be factual, useful, non-judgemental and avoid being political.

Brands and businesses who communicate and treat customers and staff with respect and integrity during this crisis are more likely to survive than those who don’t. A sympathetic ear goes a long way in building trust.

2. Be proactive

Answer your customers’ and prospects’ questions before they need to ask, or before they have even thought of the question. Give them one less thing to worry about –  from sharing information about business opening times, delivery details, legal updates on furloughing or mortgage holidays to health and wellbeing advice or online tutorials about how to use remote working or teaching tech. Make their life easier when it is anything but.

Any legal or governmental advice you share must be accurate and factual – and from a reliable and trustworthy source – it may not provide the most entertaining content, but at times it’s better to be serious than sorry.

Before you put pen to paper to create new content or update old, walk in your customers’ shoes and write what you would like or need to read.

3. Be extraordinary

Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures to create content when you don’t really have anything to say or sell. With guests and shoppers stuck at home, DoubleTree and Ikea decided to reveal their infamous chocolate chip cookie and meatball recipes to the world. Fans have been posting their cooking efforts on social media, creating a self-sustaining buzz that has resulted in an effective content marketing campaign – even when business is dormant.

Proof that a crisis doesn’t have to kill creativity.

4. Spread the good word

This may be stating the obvious, but this isn’t a time to prey on people’s fears or insecurities. No content should be exploitative or forced – not every brand needs to get heavily or actively involved in COVID comms. Sometimes they can just be a breath of fresh air with good news, happy and humorous stories of being – and doing good.

If your content can educate, inform, and generally make someone’s life a little easier or happier, then you should do it.

Kindness in content will always be well received. Just ask Captain Tom Moore.

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