The Covid-19 outbreak has affected all aspects of our lives, including marketing. Even if your business is not health-related, you are most likely incorporating the pandemic into your content and messaging. Business trends have shifted completely, and so has consumer priorities and the entire marketing landscape.  

This guide will help you adapt your messaging accordingly so that you can continue creating purposeful, quality content and maintain positive communication with your audience and stand strong with your customers. This guide includes:

  • Guidelines for staying sensitive
  • Resources for ensuring accuracy
  • Suggestions for modifying your offers
  • Tips for keeping track of it all

Let’s start with the most important one.

1. Be sensitive. This will make or break your marketing efforts.

It’s easy to get caught up in how much your business has been impacted by the pandemic. But it’s important to remember that it has impacted individuals on a personal level worldwide too. That’s why the risk of inadvertently coming off as insensitive or even exploitative is higher than ever right now and we’ve seen so many marketing fumbles already. 

This is exacerbated by the fact that social media communication is at a peak right now. One small mistake could mean far-reaching and long-term consequences for your business’ reputation. It’s a difficult minefield to navigate, but here are some guidelines to help you.

Better too serious than putting your foot in your mouth.

Using an overly formal tone with your consumers is usually frowned upon – depending on your market, of course. These days, it’s much more common (and effective) for brands to keep a conversational, casual tone in their content. 

You do not have to be all doom and gloom right now. In fact, many of your customers are probably looking for some lightheartedness. However, tread with caution. It’s best to steer clear of using humour or wit to accomplish that right now. 

It may not match your usual tone of voice and brand personality, but it’s far better to be overly serious than to be seen as undermining the feelings of your customers. Think positive, inspirational and helpful, rather than humorous and cavalier. 

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Check your wording.

The tone you use is one thing. But you need to make sure that you are checking your wording too. Obviously, we are steering away from the use of overt puns. But there are words and phrases that were completely harmless prior to this pandemic. Here are some of the culprits that may trigger unconscious negative feelings toward your brand:

  • Killer (as in a “killer deal”)
  • Contagious (“how to create contagious content”)
  • Health or checkup-related terms (“give your budget a pulse check”)
  • Spread
  • Infectious (as in, “infectious laughter”)
  • Viral
  • Gather
  • Event
It’s best to take a neutral or supportive stance

If your business is still operating or will be operating shortly with the decrease to Level 4 of lockdown, be careful with how you position your business. For example, “Take advantage of our low pricing now!” conveys an inappropriately exciting message. On the other hand, “Let us help you save in this difficult time” offers security and respects the gravity of the situation.

Here’s a quick cheat sheet:

  • Use: “contribute,” “connect,” “play a role,” “navigate,” “cope,” “respond”
  • Do not use: “capitalize,” “advantage,” “offer,” “gain,” “profit”
  • Be careful with: “opportunity,” “make the most”
Change your mindset: How to contribute or how to convert?

If your business is currently not operating, there are still ways to stay relevant. However, your motive should not be to get more conversions, but to continue offering value to your customers. If you approach your loyal clients with a hard-selling message right now, the effect will be purely negative. People are trying to survive right now, so think of how you can help, not benefit. 

2. Ensure that your content is accurate

You have spent valuable time and resources on building trust with your audience. Now more than ever, it is imperative to stay accurate to maintain that trust. This helps you position yourself as an authority in the field. Here are some guidelines and resources to help you stay accurate.

Use credible COVID-19 sources

Effective copywriting provides information while simultaneously delivering a greater message. You may intend for your message to be “we are here to help you”. But if your information is inaccurate, that will be lost. The most likely assumption your readers will make is that your business is careless, cannot be trusted and interested in spreading sensationalist falsehoods. 

Inaccurate information about the coronavirus is everywhere, so make sure you get your facts straight when copywriting. Do not base your facts on something you read on a Facebook Group or on a random internet site. The best places for reliable information are: 

In an effort to minimize the spread of inaccurate information, Canva came up with a range of free print and social media templates using information from the World Health Organization. You can access their Coronavirus Awareness Collection here

Not sure how to use Canva? We’ve recently released a free design course that covers all the basics of using Canva to design amazing social media graphics. Sign up for the course here.

Proper grammar is the cornerstone of good copywriting.

Checking for grammar is a no-brainer when it comes to copywriting, but it’s especially important when it comes to COVID-19. Improper grammar can undermine the validity of your facts. As for your copywriting in general, there are two great tools that I can recommend:

  • The Hemmingway App: This simple yet super-helpful app will help you sharpen up your grammar in no time.
  • Grammarly: This is a contextual editor that catches important fixes that slip past regular spell check. It’s a free plugin you can download and use across all applications.

Checking up on details like this takes some extra time, but it’s worth it. Plus, COVID-19 isn’t a trending topic; its effects are going to be long-lasting, so your content is likely to stay relevant for a while. Make sure it’s as up to standard as the rest of your copywriting.

Stay optimistic, but don’t overpromise

not today covid-19 sign

Staying optimistic and helpful will definitely aid your business and your customer relationships. But there is a flip side to this. This is an unprecedented situation, and it can change daily. Even expert predictions have questionable accuracy. That’s why you should not be making promises you cannot keep to your customers. No one knows what the future holds right now, and if you cannot deliver on your promises, it will have long-lasting damaging effects on your business. The best you can do right now is to be honest and open with your customers about the current situation.

3. Modify your existing offers.

Keep up your marketing efforts as much as you can, but make sure to modify your copywriting so that calls to action are appropriate. 

As mentioned above, things are ever-evolving (and fast), so it may be useful to keep your messaging as versatile as possible so that you can cut down on the amount of time you have to spend on constantly updating your copy. Here are some guidelines and suggestions for CTAs during Covid-19.

Ease up on the amount of urgency you inject into your offers

Always relay your offers back to what your consumers’ mindset is like right now. Buttons using “Call now” or “Book now” should not be an issue. However, using scarcity-driven copywriting (read more on marketing principles and how to use them here) is not going to resonate with people right now. 

Headlines like “Don’t miss out!” or “Grab your spot before it’s too late!” will not work. Your customers are uncertain, and adding pressure will not ease that feeling. 

Adjust your offers for relevancy

Lockdown has had a massive, traumatic impact on South African’s lifestyles. Things that used to be commonplace are no longer allowed. Check your offerings and make sure your copy is aligned with these lifestyle changes. For example:

  • Change irrelevant value propositions like “more dog walks” or “more diners in your doors” to something more neutral, like “more leads,” or more timely, like “more online orders.”
  • Reword inapplicable CTAs, like “join now” for facilities that are closed. “Learn more” is your safest option and has been proven to work quite well in most cases.
  • Use words to reinforce the safety of your audience, such as “contact-free,” “virtual,” “remote,” “in-home,” “downloadable,” “delivery,” and “online.”
Check your scheduled content

Don’t forget to check your automated emails or scheduled posts for relevance and appropriateness. This may include:

  • Mother’s day gathering-related content
  • Birthday or anniversary offers
  • Automated lead nurturing campaigns that are still running

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4. Stay on track

I know this is overwhelming. At Printulu, we’ve all felt it too. Everyone has had to make rapid adjustments to their lives, nevermind their marketing efforts. Remember that you are not alone. Here are some tips to help you through.

  • Prioritise. You don’t have to make these changes to all of your existing content. In fact, you shouldn’t. Instead, start with the pieces that get the most traffic, and work on your content going forward. 
  • Track all your changes: Use a tracking system that works for you. I recommend an easy spreadsheet or project tracking tool like Asana to keep track of the changes you’ve made. This will make it ten times easier to readjust content later for when things settle. 
  • Don’t delete unnecessarily: Save your ideas and well-performing campaigns for reinstatement in the future when they will be more effective.

Maintain high copywriting standards during Covid-19

2020 may seem like an entirely new era that has brought about massive change to your life and your business, but there are some things that should not change. 

Keep your copywriting standards high and be consistent. The reasoning is the same: you are providing information, adding value, and showing your audience that you are in tune with their needs. 

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  3. The do’s and dont’s of marketing your brand in the time of Covid-19

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