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Crisis communication in times of corona

Why content marketing is especially important during a crisis

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Portrait von Cornelia Maier. | © punkt & komma
Cornelia Maier
Head of content marketing

What a headline, right? Maybe you’re wondering how these two topics go together: the current situation surrounding the coronavirus pandemic and content marketing. It might seem like a long shot, but it really isn’t. Especially now, it’s incredibly important for content marketers to take the right decisions – quickly! 

In the last several days, we’ve focused on getting our customers’ content and social media marketing measures in line with current developments. And if you do that, you can’t help but notice how people are currently treating their content marketing. Some companies are understandably afraid and have thus implemented a lockdown for their content marketing activities: They’ve put a stop to all online communication. Other brands are recognising their chance and are even more focused on heavily promoting their products and services. As you can imagine, neither of these two options is ideal. What matters – as per usual – is finding the right balance. 

That’s why we’ll give you some pointers on what to do as a content marketer in times of a crisis like this. Because one thing’s for sure: There will be a life after corona! 

Stop the content lockdown

No reaction is a reaction too!

A lot of businesses seem to be freezing most of their accounts and platforms during the current COVID-19 crisis. Some even have stopped all online communication altogether. Maybe because they’re afraid, but maybe also because they’re not prioritising correctly. Philosopher and psychoanalyst Paul Watzlawick made one thing clear a long time ago: You cannot not communicate! So, everything you’re not saying right now is a message to your customers as well. 

© cottonbro from Pexels
The better choice:

Content appropriate to the situation

Of course, there’s no point in continuing as if nothing happened. Your content, posting frequency, and maybe even your channels should be reconsidered and adjusted as required. Currently, we’re seeing an increase in user activity on social media and on YouTube caused by the corona crisis, for instance. 

Now, what does “corona content” look like? 

  • The daring approach: making corona a subject of discussion. Find out where your products or services intersect with the crisis and put out helpful or even humorous content. For instance: A bike manufacturer can now give tips on how to prepare for the upcoming bike season while quarantined at home. 
  • The moderate approach: circumventing the topic and slightly (!) reducing all marketing activities – saving sensitive topics for a later point in time. For instance: A tourism destination reduces their Instagram posts from four a month to only three and holds back on communicating offers and deals for the next several weeks. 

Important: Either one of these two choices is fine. The only mistake would be to stop all communication. 

Especially now, people are looking for diversion. Think about the following questions: How can I make my customers laugh? What helps them right now? Which questions do they have? Then provide them with the answers. 

Sales are a fail:

Hard selling won’t work right now

Unless you sell toilet paper or pasta. 

But all jokes aside: Conversions tend to decrease during times of crisis and that’s already starting to happen. You’d think that online shops are experiencing an explosion in sales right now. However, that’s not the case – or if it is, it won’t be for long. In times of a crisis, people aren’t readily spending extra cash. Instead, they stash it away in case they need it. Focusing your efforts on sales-promoting marketing measures right now isn’t just a waste of money, it might even hurt your brand. 

© Vlada Karpovich from Pexels
The better choice:

Adapt the customer journey to the corona crisis

We’re all familiar with – and love – the concept of the customer journey. And it still applies during the COVID-19 crisis: 

  1. Awareness
  2. Consideration
  3. Purchase
  4. Retention
  5. Advocacy 

During times when the likelihood of people purchasing something from you is very small, you should: create content for the phases before and after that! 

Trust is the magic word at the moment. Brands who build a trust-based relationship with their (potential) customers are winning in the long run. That’s what happens in the awareness phase for new customers and in the advocacy phase for existing customers. 

Last but not least:

Don’t take advantage of the situation!

This should be a matter of course for all content marketers. However, careful observers might notice that some marketers are desperately trying to convert fear into cash. We’re not just talking about a funny toilet paper meme here. They base their marketing on product scarcity and time pressure. This has nothing to do with actual marketing, and – especially now – is an absolute no-no in content marketing. 

“Content marketing is a commitment, not a campaign” is the motto – now more than ever! So it’s back to the basics of creating good content. Put yourself in your personas’ shoes and provide them with high-quality content! 

For more tips regarding content marketing during the corona crisis, go ahead and follow punkt & komma on Instagram! You have specific questions or could use some assistance? Our content marketing heroes are happy to help – even if it’s currently from our secret home office hideouts instead of from our headquarters!

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