Content Marketing to Connect During a Crisis

Content marketing engages with clients when things are tough

It’s no secret we’re in trying times and uncharted waters. And businesses are trying to figure out how to survive.

Only a few people alive today that went through the Flu Pandemic of 1918. It killed millions.

The good news is medicine and communication systems have come a long way. The first antiviral drug was only developed 57 years ago.

Drugs are already being researched for the coronavirus as are other therapies to help treat those who have it.

It won’t be fun, but we’ll make it and learn a lot on the way.

For marketers…it means regrouping and rethinking our marketing strategies.  We need to show care, concern and be aware of sensitivities.

Here’s what not to do…

Did you see the post from Spirit Airlines? In early March Spirit Airlines sent a promotional email with the subject line, “The perfect time to treat yourself? Right this minute,” the email went on... "never been a better time to fly.”

Frontier Airlines also sent out a blunder at the same time. “Book with confidence. Increased flexibility! Change/cancel fee waived for bookings through March 31.”

Both emails have hurt the brands' reputations despite apologies. These were pre-scheduled automatic sends. No-one turned them off.

And then there was the company promoting you to buy their luxury pajamas since you had to stay home.

They were the wrong message at the wrong time and they felt very wrong to those who received them.

When in a crisis people are looking for information, education, inspiration, and entertainment.

Why Content Marketing now?

Content marketing is non-promoting, digital, online. That makes it easily accessible regardless of social distancing.

It can have every attribute people are looking for. Value, education, inspiration, entertainment.

It used to just be blog posts but has expanded to become more a holistic approach. Now content marketing covers email, social media and even paid distribution.

What to avoid?  Highly promotional.  A crisis sale can come across very tacky.

Content marketing works in a more subtle, acceptable and approachable way.  It builds bonds, and relationships that keep going during and after the current crisis ends.

This style of marketing is a highly effective way to stay in touch with your customers. It will attract leads that are ongoing.  When done, it’s an investment that will last for years.

Staying in touch with clients and prospects can be uninterrupted with content marketing. All you need is to make sure you follow proper content marketing strategies.

It might take a little time to figure out your best approach. That's okay too.

One secret to remember…

You need to be as responsive as that cat on the hot-tin-roof.  To prevent a mishap, turn off your auto-sender.

It’s time to be in the trenches, flexible, in control of what goes out. You have to be sensitive to the timing and make sure the message you planned is still right.

You don’t want to have a boondoggle like those airlines made…

It’s okay to take the time to make sure your employees and those directly affected customers are taken care of.

It’s okay to slow down your email sends.  People are being inundated with emails and it’s harder to get seen. When you do send them, make sure they are content based rather than sales promotions.

Focus on three things in content marketing.

Here are three things to focus on when planning your content marketing regardless of how you deliver it. 

For businesses that depend on meeting people and making sales at trade shows…take it virtual. Offer educational information about your business on-line. This is becoming more and more common.

Build relationships

Share the types of things that will build getting to know you and your team. Build trust. Maybe what you’re doing so you can take care of staff and customers... and plan for the future.

Think brand awareness. People need to feel you are connected with the situation we're living in. If you’re doing something special or helping out your community in some way…share that story in a non-promotional way.

Invite them to help in their own communities. Let them know you are here for them.

Social media may be the best place to be.  Cecilia Gates, CEO of Gates Creative, a creative agency agrees. “It’s time to step back.”  She suggests that social is a better idea than push marketing, and your best way to stay engaged.

Be where your customers are in a gentle supportive way. Be genuine.


Piccioli, the Italian creative director of Valentino, posted recently on Instagram. There is an image of him at home in Nettuno, Italy, surrounded by his sketch materials. His personal caption reads:
“Home. This country has overcome the toughest moments with pride, creativity, and optimism. And so it will, once again. There is a time for moving and a time for staying still.  Even at home, our imagination can lead us anywhere. Such a serious situation will not stop us from dreaming. Our will is strong, our duty is to resist and we will keep on dreaming, harder than ever and we will rise stronger than ever.”

I think he handles it beautifully. Did you notice he doesn’t mention fashion?. He doesn’t mention his company or even the coronavirus by name. He doesn’t say what anyone should do during a time none of us really knows how to deal with. 

His message has been liked many thousands more times than his typical posts. Those tend to be focused on Valentino's designs and events.

Look for how you can boost others through inspiration.

Educate, inform and entertain

Sometimes just helping people feel good is a big boost for them.  It might be information on how to use your product to feel better. It might be a story from one of your clients that could inspire.

It could equally be helpful to give them a tip for self-care they can do at home, with things they may have on hand.

It is a time to give, help and support…not push a big sale.

My hair salon recently sent an email update. Of course, they are closed and no one knows when they will open.

Instead, they acknowledged that hair keeps growing and to help their customers they are putting up a how-to video to get people through the crisis. Helpful ways to avoid the dreaded “baby-bangs.”

My tip for anyone who offers services? Look how can you help, support and nurture.

Let people know you are here if they need you or have questions – virtually. And that once this is passed you’ll still be here for them and their business in 2020 and beyond.

If we focus on how we want to be remembered when the world starts to return to normal, we’ll be on the right track.

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