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Content Marketing During a Crisis: Your Big Chance to Give Back and Show Your Heart

Times like these, it’s scary to even turn on the news. As the number of coronavirus cases rises, so does the fear and anxiety of individuals and businesses alike. So, is this the time to shut down your small business blog, social media, emails, and other marketing efforts? NO! This is the time when your customers and followers need you the most. In fact, content marketing during a crisis is your biggest chance to give back to your community and show the heart of your business.

To give you a little inspiration, we’ve selected six examples that show how impactful content marketing during a crisis can be. There are a LOT of great examples out there right now, so while this list is not complete, it does demonstrate the many different ways you can use your content and marketing channels to reach – and HELP – your tribe during tough times. Let’s get started.

6 Brilliant Examples of Content Marketing During a Crisis

Maybe your business was impacted by coronavirus; maybe it wasn’t. Maybe the product or service you offer solves a problem that people are facing right now, or maybe it doesn’t. These examples show the range of possibilities that ANY business owner can explore if they are willing to get creative with their content marketing during coronavirus, or when any other crisis comes up in the future.

1. TED-Ed – Recycling Content

Let’s begin with the example that inspired this blog post. As I was browsing Facebook one Saturday morning, avoiding the grocery stores, and doing my best social distancing act, I happened upon the following post from TED-Ed.

What a nice gesture, I thought! With so many schools closed, teachers needing virtual lessons, parents needing activities, and students needing the basic education they would be getting in the classroom, this is the PERFECT, FREE offering right now! The message was heartwarming, and the image intrigued me. Although I’m not even a parent, teacher, or student, I clicked on the link to sign up.

TED-Ed website - content marketing crisis example

Having no affiliation with TED-Ed, I have no real statistics on how this landing page performed, but I would guess that it performed splendidly. The left side shows an example of what your daily email will look like. The right side explains exactly what you’re signing up for. The bullet points allow for a lot of detail without filling the space with words and signing up is as easy as entering your email.

So, I signed up. I also shared the post on my Facebook page and told my brother (who has four kids) about this free offering.

Now THAT is great content marketing!

But when I got my first email of video lessons on Monday morning, I realized that it was brilliant on another level too. TED-Ed already has a library of hundreds of video lessons for students! They built this new and highly relevant campaign amidst the COVID-19 pandemic using all RECYCLED CONTENT! A sign-up page and the creation of some new daily emails is all that was needed to breathe new life AND to provide extraordinary value to people during these crazy times.

So maybe you don’t have a library of 1000+ videos like TED-Ed. But you probably have content that is relevant and helpful at this particular moment. Just think of what your customers, contacts, or followers NEED right now. Review what you currently have in your inventory to see how it might fit that need.

For example, knowing that so many people are cooped up in the house with their family right now, one of our clients is going to be sending an email that shares some recipes that the whole family can participate in, even children. The recipes already exist on the website; it’s just a matter of packaging them together and creating an email with a heartfelt message.

The moral of the story is that great content marketing during a crisis does not mean having to reinvent the wheel! It just involves looking at what you currently have with a different perspective.

2. GrooveHQ – New Content

But of course, you certainly can create new content on your small business blog right now that directly addresses the current situation and provides value to readers’ current needs. However, if you are going to do this, we want to make sure you do it the RIGHT way. And that means avoiding awkward and potentially offensive pitfalls.

For a good example, let me share an email that hit one of our clients’ inboxes this week from GrooveHQ.

GrooveHQ email image

This is a great example of content marketing during a crisis for a number of reasons:

  1. The email shows a clear UNDERSTANDING of what many businesses are going through right now: flooded customer service requests and team members who are going through tough times as well and may not be 100%.
  2. It offers PRACTICAL advice. In times of crisis, people want information they can act on and which can help solve their problems.
  3. It captures the BENEFIT of taking a few minutes to read the content and following the advice—ramping up proactive support and taking the burden off of team members are tangible benefits that many business owners are looking for right now.

A few of our clients have also been creating new content related to the current situation.

Our client Melinda Emerson, at succeedasyourownboss.com, helps small business owners succeed. To serve them, she has created a blog post with information about applying for SBA emergency loans.

content marketing during a crisis - sba loan help from Melinda Emerson

Another of our clients, Jane Atkinson of Speaker Launcher and The Wealthy Speaker School, coaches professional speakers and to serve them she shared a list of 10 ways to recession-proof your speaking business.

content marketing during a crisis - jane atkinson recession proof tips

When creating new content related to the current realities of COVID-19, or any crisis, it is important that you don’t overstep your boundaries.

  • IF there is a space where current realities and customer pain points INTERSECT with the knowledge, products, and services that you offer, then explore that space carefully to see how you can help.
  • DO NOT interject coronavirus or [insert crisis name] into your content or marketing if it does not have a solid and logical connection—this will only offend!
  • Think about the emotional impact of the content and your message. In times of crisis, there is plenty of gloomy news. Try to create something that is positive and helpful for your community.

(Side Note: With so much false information circulating about coronavirus, big email providers like Google are starting to scan emails for the words ‘coronavirus’ and ‘COVID-19.’ This has resulted in a lot of emails that use these words being sent to the Spam folder. If you are emailing your list about something related to this, you should avoid these words in the subject line and use them sparingly, if at all, in the text to lower the chance of your email being tagged as spam.)

3. Cincinnati Zoo – Create New Freebies and Lead Magnets

In addition to new blog posts, don’t underestimate your ability to create new freebies and lead magnets during a crisis to educate and delight your followers. There are so many examples of businesses doing this right now. We wanted to give a shoutout to the Cincinnati Zoo, which cleverly started delivering daily “Home Safari” videos and lessons just one day after announcing that the zoo would be closed to visitors.

With the zoo and schools closed, online video was an ideal way to provide education and entertainment to the local community and people around the world. As the Home Safaris proved to be popular, the zoo even set up a dedicated page on its website to share past Safari videos along with quizzes and home activities. And the results are incredibly positive. In fact, at the time I am writing this, one of the most recent Home Safari Facebook videos (red pandas) had the following statistics:

  • 626K views
  • 66K reactions (like, heart, etc.)
  • 25K comments
  • 6.1K shares
  • $8,425 in donations.

And all of that happened in only about 24 hours!

Okay, so you probably don’t have the help of cute animals to promote your small business. There likely is a way, however, that you can help your customers and followers during this and other times of crisis. Whether it is a video of tips, a new downloadable resource, a free consultation, or an informative webinar, content marketing during a crisis is all about understanding what VALUE you can offer your community and choosing the right method of sharing that value.

4. Slack – Show Your Values

Another idea for content marketing during a crisis is to demonstrate your company values. Perhaps you have them written down on your website somewhere, such as the About Us section. How many views does that page even get? Further, seeing those values listed out or described is MUCH different than actually seeing them in action. Customers will remember what you DO longer than what you SAY. Perhaps now is the time that you use content marketing to let those values shine!

For this example, we turn to Slack, a communication and collaboration tool that obviously has a tie-in to the recent COVID-19 crisis with so many people working remotely from home (many for the first time in their careers). As such, their Facebook page shows how they are ramping up new blog posts, guides, and webinars specifically for those who are new to working from home. For example, they have created new guides to help universities and professors manage distance learning along with free webinars on creating virtual classrooms and campuses.

But that’s not what we are focusing on here. We want to talk about posts like this:

And this:

Wanting to facilitate collaboration is a great mission, but posts like this let us see the deeper values of the company – gratitude, compassion, and generosity. These posts – even the one without an image – received more reactions than other posts on their Facebook page, as helpful as those posts might have been. I am willing to bet that those people who ‘liked’ or ‘hearted’ these posts have similar values and that their connection to the brand grew because they now know the company shares their values.

So, as a small business owner, you probably don’t have $1 million to give to charity, and you might not be able to offer your product or service for free to special groups in need either. If you are like many small businesses, you might be struggling to stay afloat right now. That said, this is a great time to think about the values of your company and to assess whether those values are backed up by actions.

If they are, let the world know about them! While bragging won’t get you far, there is a sincere and humble way to share your message, like the examples above. Your customers and followers DO want to know your values and that your company is living those values. This is good advice any day, but especially relevant when planning your content marketing during a crisis.

5. Journeyman Distillery – Tell Your Story

Another example of content marketing during a crisis applies to those businesses that find themselves greatly impacted or somehow wrapped up in the crisis and its aftermath. While you might be quietly making changes behind the scenes, this is a chance to use content marketing to share your story and connect with your community.

One fine example of this is the Journeyman Distillery, a family-owned business in Three Oaks, Michigan. Three days after closing business doors due to a state executive order (issued because of COVID-19), they announced on their Facebook page that they would be trying something new. Changes in the law would allow their facility to produce ethanol-based hand sanitizer to meet the demands of the community, and Journeyman Distillery was all in!

As the post above shows, they paired the announcement of their new manufacturing venture with a previously scheduled fundraiser to support their hourly workers. The fundraiser was a giant success, with $13,000 raised, and 400 sample bottles of hand sanitizer distributed. Since then, they have been keeping the conversation going on their social media pages with production updates, news stories, and additional fundraisers.

If the crisis has impacted your business, especially if it has done so in a positive way, use content marketing to share your story too. In the long run, it is bound to increase the know-like-trust factor, and in the short run, it is just nice to know that your community is rallying behind you.

6. Zappos – Spread Positivity

Hopefully, by now, you have a lot of ways to adapt your content marketing during a crisis. However, if you are still feeling left out because you can’t really relate to these examples, there is still hope. This last, quick example is from the shoe seller Zappos. It demonstrates that any business, no matter the product or service, can participate in a positive way and support its community.

Ideas? Tips? Reasons to smile? In the middle of a crisis, I bet your own tribe could use the same. Zappos has followed up this announcement with daily posts featuring smiling piglets, heartwarming news stories, inspirational quotes, and even shoutouts to their favorite recipe sites. When it comes to YOUR community, you know best about what they want and need during these scary times. It’s just a matter of delivering it.  

Content Marketing During a Crisis: Wrapping it Up

Natural disasters. War. Economic downturn. Disease. I’ll stop there so as not to end this positive and inspirational article on a low note. The point is that sometimes in our business, community, country, or even world, we face tough times. That does not mean your content marketing should cease. In fact, times like these are when your customers and followers need you the most.

Today it is coronavirus. Tomorrow it could be something else. How you handle your content marketing during a crisis says a lot about your small business. Do it right, and you can provide incredible value and support at a time when it is needed most, while also growing closer to your community of customers, followers, and supporters.

Do you have other examples of great content marketing during coronavirus or another crisis? Or has this article inspired your next brilliant content marketing idea? Let us know by posting a comment below.

 

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The VirTasktic Dream Team

The Dream Team at VirTasktic is dedicated to helping small businesses increase sales and growth by providing valuable information about content marketing tools and strategies they can employ immediately in their marketing strategy.

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