Last week, I was asked to re-write several email campaigns for a client. Why? The current copy, which a month ago was just fine, was now out-of-step with all that’s going on. Had my client ran with it, he probably would have received more complaints than sales.

Thus is the challenge for marketers and copywriters during this pandemic. How do you even begin to write effective copy in times like these?

I don’t claim to have all the answers. (No one does.) But I do have some tips, which I share below.

But first let me say: don’t be hard on yourself. No one has done this before. No one has had to write marketing content during a pandemic. So, if you mess up a few times or get pushback on something you wrote, give yourself a break.

We’re all learning as we go.

And here’s what I’ve learned so far…

1.Ease back on the empathy

Yes, your customers want to know you care. Yes, they want your supportive messages. But, as a student in one of my courses said recently, “If I hear from another company asking me how I’m doing through all this, I’m going to scream.”

Most people don’t need to be reminded these are challenging times. So, by all means, tell them that you care. Be sincere about it. Then move on.

I suspect most people are past needing empathy from companies. What they’re interested in now is solutions.

2. Avoid an over-abundance of happy talk

You might be tempted to write something like, “Things will be back to normal soon.” “Everything is going to be fine.” “Look at all the great things you can do on your stay-cation. Woo hoo!”

There’s nothing wrong with infusing your copy with some optimism. In fact, that’s a smart idea. Just don’t lay it on too thick. Otherwise, your marketing message will come across as being out-of-touch or, worse, condescending.

3. Highlight how your helping

If your company (or client) is doing things to help customers through these tough times, consider highlighting that in the copy. Don’t brag about it; just state it, plainly. Customers will appreciate knowing how your company is helping.

More importantly, they’ll remember.

4. Don’t dance around the main marketing message.

When it comes to writing the pitch part of your message — the launch, offer, sale, etc. — get right into it. You don’t need to tread softly or ease into it apologetically, as if you’re sneaking in an uninvited guest to the party. If your product, service, or sale is something that may be useful or valuable to your prospect, present it with confidence.

You don’t need to temper your enthusiasm.

Focus on facts and details.

With so much uncertainty these days, people are craving facts, details and good information.

So, as much as possible, fill your marketing copy with those ingredients. Use plenty of testimonials. Reference highly-credible sources. Quote the latest statistics.

Have you been using a “fact” in your marketing writing that’s getting old? For example, “47% of home buyers say they hate virtual home tours”, says a study from… ah… 2016. A lot can change in four years! Get the most recent information.

Be ultra-realistic about benefits and outcomes.

As every good marketer and copywriter knows, you must paint an enthusiastic, yet realistic picture of benefits and expected outcomes. Otherwise, you won’t be credible. That hasn’t changed. What has changed is that buyers are being extra cautious and scrutinizing the claims made in marketing copy much more closely.

That doesn’t mean you can’t come on strong and persuasive. You definitely can and should. Just double-check that the benefits and promises are realistic.

Update your buyer personas

What are customers thinking about right now? What’s concerning them? What are their hopes and desires? No doubt, the answers are very different than from just a month ago. The pandemic has made all buyer personas out-of-date. So, you need to rethink your audience and get a clear picture of what’s going on for them today.

Okay. Those are some tips I’ve picked up from writing marketing copy during this period. But they’re definitely works-in-progress. Like I said earlier, we’re all learning as we go. (It’s a little like tip-toeing through a mind field.)

Do you have any copywriting tips you can add to this list? Please share in the comments below.