When managing crisis communications, it’s critical that you take two important factors into consideration:
- Your customers and their particular needs and wants during an unprecedented time.
- Your content and whether it is serving that purpose.
When I say content, I’m referring to social media posts, videos, blog posts and even landing pages, case studies and white papers. What you put out to your customers during a time of crisis needs to be relevant and relatable—if your customers don’t care about the content, they won’t read it.
Instead of continuing to put out content to simply check a box, get intentional about your efforts. Assess the customer-centricity of your content and crisis communications by asking these five simple questions.
1. Do we have a clear customer in mind for this piece of content?
Go back to your personas or avatars and ask yourself: Who is the exact persona we’re trying to reach with this piece of content? When answering this question, you have to be clear and specific—if the content doesn’t have a specific audience, it’s less likely to resonate with your audience. While not every piece of content you create doesn’t need to focus on just one persona, you do need to be able to identify the various personas that would find it most valuable.
Make this part of your content strategy and planning process as you readjust. When developing your calendar, include a spot to specify the audience the piece is intended for. This ensures that whether you’re promoting, planning, writing or designing the content, the end goal is clear: to reach X person.
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2. Which part of the funnel is this content serving?
Are your crisis communications meant purely to educate? Are they meant to drive sales? Are they meant to get potential customers on the phone? Knowing where your content falls in the funnel will determine what type of content you create. I like how SingleGrain breaks the funnel down for content creation:
- Top of funnel: Awareness. You’re solving a problem with educational content, like blog posts, graphics and videos.
- Middle of funnel: Evaluation. Your goal is to drive readers from content into a lead funnel, with content like free downloads, quizzes or webinars.
- Bottom of funnel: Conversion. You’re helping your reader make an informed decision with a product or features webinar, comparison table or case study.
For companies thriving during a crisis—like Zoom during COVID—the bottom of funnel content may be most powerful right now, as opposed to educational content. Knowing where your message will resonate most, and where your business can stand to gain the most, is key to creating great content during a crisis.
3. Is the content adding value to the potential customer’s life?
Whether you’re in a time of crisis or not, it’s always critical that your content actually adds value to the reader’s life. What does it mean to “add value?” It means to make your customer’s life easier or better in some way, whether you’re helping them understand a confusing concept or answering a question.
In this way, even promotional content can add value, like a case study. By focusing less on the “this is how great we are” element and more on the, “this is a story you want to read” element, you provide value and authority for your brand.
This is important to consider when managing crisis communications because customers are likely stressed, anxious and worried—they’re looking for answers, solutions or support, and great content provides that.
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4. Why are we creating this content?
If you’re working with fewer resources or bringing in less customers and leads, you don’t want to spend your time creating content that isn’t 100 percent focused on what your potential customers need. This is not the time to create content just to keep up with competitors or because you have a moment of inspiration that’s not backed by data or insights.
If you don’t have a clear answer to this question, it’s time to back it up and answer this one instead: What content do our customers need right now? To figure that out, look to:
- Social listening. What are your customers talking about?
- Google trends. What searches, pertaining to your industry, are surging right now?
- Competitors. What content are they creating that’s driving engagement on social?
With a clear “why” for each piece of content, you’ll be more likely to see results for everything you create because you know it’s something your target audience is looking for.
5. Are we providing content for current customers?
Is your content only serving prospective customers? Crisis communications need to extend well past the sale itself—and creating content to support customers who may be using your tool to navigate their business during a pandemic, for example, need content too.
When planning your content for current customers, consider topics that are:
- Product or service-related, like support content, product tips, and how-to videos for making the most of specific features, tools or services.
- Educational content that solves problems related to your customers’ business or industry. If you’re an email marketing platform, publishing content related to emailing during a crisis is a great strategy for staying customer-centric while remaining relevant and within your area of expertise.
Crisis Communications: Get Your Content Right
A major crisis is no reason to forget the rules of great, customer-centric content. Quite the contrary, when your content is your dominant medium for sharing crisis communications, you need to be more strategic than ever before. Customers are stressed, worried and anxious, so you need to be hyper focused on what they want and need from you and how your content can provide that value.