Tips for more sensitive copywriting in tough times 5 October 2020

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There’s no doubt that these are tough times for many. How we connect through content matters more than ever.

Sensitive copywriting means being aware that your content may have a different impact on your audience than usual. It’s about adapting your tone of voice to connect effectively with your audience instead of putting up barriers.

Sensitivity in copywriting is a strength. It’s a clear recognition of the concerns of your clients and prospects. Sensitivity has always played a vital part in effective copywriting, of course, but it matters even more now.

Clients have been asking me how they should adapt their copywriting approach during these more challenging times. Here are some of the tips I shared with them:

Check your words

Staying sensitive in copywriting relies on taking care of the details. Early on in the drafting stage, be on the look-out for language which could make your audience uncomfortable. Now is the time to over-analyse. Double and triple-check throughout the copywriting process. By removing potential obstacles between you and your audience, your voice could be the one that stands out beyond the tough times.

Show you’re on their side

Again, assuring your audience that you’re on their side is something copywriting should always aim to achieve. And it’s more important than ever. Think about how you position your messages. Are you still trying to sell, sell, sell or are you conveying how your service can support customers? As you plan your content, clarify exactly how your product or service will be of benefit – and state this clearly.

Simplify your message

As I’ve written before, less is more in copywriting. We’re all having to adapt to new rules and new ways of working and living. With so much going on, people are less keen to wade through long, convoluted messaging. Now is a good time for a tone of voice which is direct and friendly, free of jargon and focused on the interests of your audience. This should always be the case for copywriting, but even more so now.

Support before selling

Giving it the hard sell in tougher times is a great way to create a barrier between you and your customers. Adjust your copywriting angle to show you’re there for them. Offer advice, support and tips relating to your product or service. Demonstrate through your tone of voice and messaging that your goal is to help.

Show gratitude – minus the platitudes

Your customers have stuck with you in more challenging times. So, it’s important to show them some gratitude while staying authentic. Be sure to include messages which acknowledge your customers’ loyalty and patience. This could be related to a special offer or discount or simply be about taking the time to directly thank your customers.

Keep your tone consistent

A unique tone of voice can help to maintain your connection with people. There’s an art to adapting your copywriting approach for different circumstances while maintaining a familiar style. Aim to avoid stock phrases when you can use language which retains your company’s personality. As you’re going through the copywriting process, keep checking whether your content sounds like it’s really from you and your business – or from someone else.

Put their concerns first

Let me tell you about an email I received last week. It contained the line “We appreciate that times are difficult” within messaging which was very much business-as-usual. I suppose the sender believed that their one-liner would suffice. It didn’t. It actually had the opposite effect. There was a strange contrast between the mostly detached tone of voice and the token line acknowledging things might be tougher than usual. In your copywriting approach, aim to go further than just an introductory sentence to show you’re putting your audience first. Keep your customer at the core of your copywriting and they’ll be more likely to listen to what you have to say.

Don’t exclude the upbeat

Yes, times are tricky just now, but that doesn’t mean your content has to be subdued at all times! Where it’s appropriate, putting the positive into the copywriting mix can be a really good thing. Talk about good news stories – without bragging of course. Be creative. Share new ideas and approaches which could help make life easier for your clients.

Avoid empty clichés

It’s not always easy to avoid certain stock phrases when communicating in these strange times. Like the one I just used there. But keeping your copywriting sensitive involves speaking directly to your customer. And clichés get in the way of that. Look at fresh ways to write about current circumstances while keeping your content relevant to your audience and your business.

Keep it sensitive, folks

All of these tips apply to copywriting in less unusual times. This isn’t about doing something dramatically different, but strategically adjusting your copywriting approach. That’s why a good content strategy is never really finished. Life changes and people’s priorities change: an effective copywriting plan should adapt too.

Sensitivity is strength. It’s the power of adapting instead of just relying on familiar approaches to copywriting. And it can help you build stronger ties with your clients. Connect with them effectively in the tough times and they’ll be more likely to stick with you in the good times too.

Stay safe and take care, everyone.

Camilla Zajac, Green Light Copywriting, October 2020

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