In These Uncertain Times, Marketing Copy Can Still Show Empathy

Most of us, including brands and the copywriters that work for them, want to show empathy. Particularly during a crisis. But you don’t need to start your ad with “In these uncertain times.”

It’s not wrong to say that. The world is particularly scary right now. Running marketing campaigns can feel insensitive, and none of us want that.

But “In these uncertain times” has become the banner ad of copywriting. The audience tunes it out.

You can demonstrate empathy and still create tight, compelling ads. These are some templates I’m using right now. These are not real ads, by the way:

Remind, Explain, Reassure

Tell your audience:

  1. You’re still here
  2. Why that matters
  3. What you’re doing to keep them safe

Example: “We’re open for business, fixing your bicycles so you can get where you’re going. Our team has taken special precautions to protect you from COVID–19, including sanitizing all work surfaces after each repair.”

Example: “Your home still gets damaged by extreme weather. Our team will inspect your roof, only entering your premises with your permission and only in protective equipment that’s kept sterile until we do.”

Example: “We’re keeping our shelves stocked with everything from food to cleaning products, and we’re open 24/7. Our amazing team constantly sanitizes all work surfaces and wears masks. We also provide masks at the door.”

Thank, Remind, Explain

Tell your audience:

  1. How amazing your team is
  2. That you’re still here
  3. Why that matters

Example: “I’m Ian Lurie, and I want to thank our mechanics and staff for their hard work. They’ve put in the extra hours, changing the way we work to sanitize vehicles and minimize contact during the repair process. Their effort keeps your car running smoothly and ensures you still have reliable transportation.”

(It won’t win any awards, but you get the idea)


Before you flame me: This post has nothing – I mean nothing – to do with COVID-specific advice about search marketing, search data, or similar. That stuff helps marketers do a better job. This is about marketing copy by brands.

Nor is this post an inidictment of campaigns that say “in these uncertain times.”

I’m not saying this is bad. I’m saying we can do it better.

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