The unprecedented star of all news reports, COVID-19, has thrown a spanner in the works for marketers. Events are being cancelled, budgets are being reduced. Yet, marketers are still expected to communicate and deliver value to their audience. Many are shifting to digital channels as a result. However, marketers walk a fine line between genuinely answering a customer need with content and coming across as opportunistic during a fragile time.

Second to this is the over-saturation of COVID-19 related content in the market, making it seemingly impossible to cut through the noise -- and all the bots spreading fear and fake news.

But marketers play an integral role now more than ever as they are tasked with building and maintaining trust with their customers during such times. So, how can marketers navigate this minefield?

Make use of digital channels

Audiences are becoming increasingly active online as a result of social distancing. In fact, social media use is skyrocketing right now, which puts marketers in a unique position to get their message across to their audience. Social media is a cost-effective way of delivering key messaging and maintaining a presence in front of your customers. More eyes on newsfeeds mean more competition, so getting your content right will be key to cutting through the noise. 

Align your content to the needs of your audience

Whether you're selling a product or selling a service, at the end of the day, you're selling a story and you're selling a why. Your content needs to reflect this or it'll miss the mark on why your audience chose to commit themselves to your brand in the first place.

Sure your customers might be genuine advocates of your product, but what's the real reason behind their loyalty? What are you offering that the competition isn't? Are you offering quality content that delivers real value to their needs? Are you solving a problem without selling them something? During COVID-19, quality content that offers more than just a sales pitch is critical to building and maintaining long-term customer loyalty.

Be authentic

It's important that marketers tread lightly during these times. Your content should always reflect your brand's values and value proposition. Anything outside of these two things can be seen as opportunistic by your audience and the last thing you want to be doing is leveraging the vulnerabilities of your audience.

Remember, many people have been impacted by COVID-19 so putting your product in front of their face may not bode well. Instead, focus on how you can support them through this time with quality content and capitalise on helping them.

Wash your hands

Metaphorically. And well, yes, literally too. The point here is that brands should be leading by example. Uber, a company that relies on its customers to leave their homes, is instead asking people to stay home, putting their customer's health and wellbeing above the needs of their business. 

Now, I'm not saying throw your business goals out the window, but a gesture like this bodes well to build long-term trust and loyalty with a brand. And after all, what's worth more? A short-term sale or long-term loyalty that will continue to generate revenue in the long run?

I know which I'd prefer.

If you're a business that wants to engage your customers meaningfully with a content strategy, get in touch via luke.ireland@hotwireglobal.com.