How to Write Marketing Copy in a COVID-19 World

When posed with the question, “How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed marketing copywriting?” my initial reaction was, “Not a whole heck of a lot — at least not for me. I write business-to-business marketing copy. I’m not peddling hand sanitizer or face masks to consumers.”

“But, for instance, would you use the phrase, ‘a killer deal’?’” was the follow-up question.

Well, no, I would not. Nor would I have used that phrase before the pandemic.

I’ve been writing marketing copy for 35 years, and I don’t believe I’ve ever used “a killer deal” to describe anything, mainly because I think the headlines and the images you use with them need to work together. What kind of image would you use with “a killer deal”? A photo of a murder hornet? That doesn’t seem motivational, unless perhaps you’re selling bug repellant.

I have used “a sweet deal” for a Valentine’s Day-themed sales incentive flyer that featured images of delicious-looking chocolates and gorgeous red roses — generally appealing items you might wish to buy for your sweetheart or yourself if you sold my client’s product and earned the sales incentive cash.

But back to COVID-19 and marketing copy — I did, in fact, work on projects somewhat affected by the pandemic for a client who sells products and services that help people work together more easily and efficiently when they’re remote from one another — very useful to all of us when non-essential businesses closed.

You know what we did? Better yet, you know what we didn’t do? We didn’t say “COVID” or “pandemic” in the headline or copy at all. We went straight to the product benefit — the answer to the “what’s in it for me?” question that every potential buyer of anything, anywhere, is asking at any time. We talked about how you could keep your business operating whether your team members were working in the office, in the field, on the road, or from home. Everybody knows why so many people are working from home. No need to state the obvious.

Speaking of obvious, clearly no company wants to come off as trying to profit from the misfortune or misery of others — like a toilet paper or hand sanitizer hoarder, who then tries to resell at a crazy profit margin when store shelves are bare, and people are desperate.

But if you have a product or service to offer that helps in any way, including by keeping businesses operating and people gainfully employed, then by all means, sell it at a reasonable profit. Stick to good marketing copywriting principles — with an added dash of sense and sensibility.

Lisa Curry is a Senior Copywriter and Project Manager at JP Enterprises. She lives in Hopewell Township, PA with her husband, Glen, 2 grown boys, Griffin and Sean, a dog, a bearded dragon and three ducks.

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