The COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating effects worldwide. You know this. I know this. We all know this. It has affected every area of life for billions of people and, for many of us, doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon. The sad reality is we all know at least one local business that couldn’t sustain the catastrophic loss and made the heartbreaking decision to close its doors permanently.
During this time, we’ve seen many service-based businesses transform day-to-day operations and products, or pivot entirely, in order to survive these darker times. We’ve also witnessed certain industries modify their service and adjust to the circumstances to effectively wait out the storm.
A good example of visible brands who have done their best to modify how they operate would be some of our favorite talk shows, such as The View, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert billed as A Late Show with Stephen Colbert, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah billed as The Daily Social Distancing Show, and Late Night with Seth Meyers. The hosts and their respective production teams have proven once again that in this age of technology all we really need is good internet connection and a little ingenuity.
While it’s no secret that many of these show hosts have openly expressed frustration due to limited resources and creative opportunities, not to mention seeing more than a handful of technical difficulties and on-air snafus that would have normally been edited out, this could also serve as a glimmer of inspiration for many small business owners. The reason is, because most people think of talk show hosts as being television superstars. However, being a star on camera is a heck of a lot easier when you’re on a legit soundstage with an entire team of professionals handling all the technical details. It’s a completely different story when that same person is forced to record from the attic or spare bedroom and has to multitask handling the bulk of operations.
If these television heavyweights can put together enough content to cover multiple segments spanning anywhere from 20-40 minutes on a daily basis using only their laptops and smart devices coupled with downloadable software and free social media apps; then there’s no excuse for entrepreneurs who are hesitant to use these same readily available tools to communicate with their customers. Starting out, this could be a very simple three-minute video delivered on a weekly basis for the purpose of informing customers and building awareness. That’s it. It doesn’t need to be elaborate and this can be easily incorporated into your online marketing strategy.
For those that have been on the fence with video content creation or have been reluctant to start for one reason or another, then let this worldwide slowdown be the exact opportunity you’ve been waiting for to begin. Time is no longer a factor because the pandemic has afforded most of us more than enough time on our hands. As mentioned above, many nationally recognized and admired talk show hosts have openly shared their previously limited expertise with technology and the need for a crash course in software and social media tools if they had any hope of staying connected with their fans. They’ve also laughed about the many glitches and blunders with their makeshift home studios. If they can do this to reach their millions of viewers nationwide then you can do it to reach the people in your online sphere.
To help get the ball rolling, let’s focus our attention on three main areas.
 Choose content that your audience wants to know about.
Take a moment to think about those frequently asked questions that you receive. These could be common questions about your particular service, the industry in general, or typical problems and pain points of your ideal customers. Imagine someone approached you to ask one of these very common questions. How would you respond to address the individual’s concern? More than likely, you’ve answered this question so many times that providing a well-thought response would be second nature. Well, that’s all you’re doing with these informative and content rich videos for your audience. The only difference being that this conversation will be rehearsed and recorded for public consumption.
Typically, I’ll have my clients write down ten frequently asked questions or common problems their customers face. That’s all we need to begin. Once you have these ten key points written down, then it’s time to take a closer look at how you’ll structure and deliver the information.
 Choose a format that can be easily applied. Here are three basic video styles.
Q&A –Pose the frequently asked question at the beginning of the video and then provide your expert answer. Be sure to include supporting information for the sake of clarity. Remember your viewer probably doesn’t have your extensive background and knowledge base so keep it simple.
Did You Know –This informative style can be causal and even conversational as you express your message. You’ve probably started thousands of friendly discussions like this over your lifetime. Use this format to build awareness with your audience.
How to –Just as it sounds, this format shows the person how to do something. It may sound counterintuitive because you’re essentially teaching the person how to do something, that you would normally be paid to do. But that’s the beauty of it. By doing this, you are teaching the viewer how to do an easier and smaller job, perhaps even one that you wouldn’t have the time to do, which establishes credibility and proves you are an expert because you just solved the problem in front of their eyes. Empowering your audience to learn more about your work establishes trust and builds rapport, plus it increases the likelihood that they will return for more direct assistance when they need help solving those bigger and more complex issues.
 Press the red button.
The final piece is to actually record the video. You are the expert. You know the material. Take a deep calming breath and start recording. If you need a small notecard nearby to stay on track, then use it. If you mess up and need to record it again, then keep trying until you’re satisfied with the final product. It doesn’t need to be perfect. It just needs to be professional. Practice makes progress. Like anything in life, the more you do it the better you’ll become. In the beginning the videos might take a little bit longer until you find your flow and delivery style. This will come in time. Stay focused on the objective, which is to create a premium piece of original content that will educate your audience and provide an opportunity to engage in a personal and direct manner.
Creating original content like this allows you to build value and stay connected with your audience. It provides a platform to demonstrate your skills and expertise. You won’t need to tell them that you’re an expert because you’ll be demonstrating your proficiency right in front of them. Actions speak louder than words and this will prove how good you are with every new video published.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like this pandemic will be going away anytime soon and the medical experts emphasize the need for flexibility and frequent adjustments. But you can use this time to differentiate yourself as a proven leader in your market by creating video content that attracts your ideal customers. Keep the conversation going by engaging with viewers and build your online community. Use this opportunity to turn misfortune into the golden ticket that strengthens your business and keeps customers coming back for more.
This article originally published on Entrepreneur