Here’s a question we’re getting a lot of right now.

Our leadership is worried about marketing too aggressively right now. How much is too much? How do we advertise in a way that’s supportive and doesn’t look like we’re capitalizing on the pandemic?

With all the posts from critics going up right now about what brands are doing right and wrong, there’s a wave of trepidation over how to message that’s freezing marketers in their tracks. Whether you’re fighting for every sale you can get right now, or your brand is uniquely positioned to help people in the new normal, advertising should be a part of your strategy.

Generally speaking, people understand that companies need to keep operating, and they understand that will involve advertising. The 4A’s released research in which only 15% agreed with the blanket statement that they didn’t want to hear from brands right now. How they hear from you, of course, will matter. Our team has put together a set of tips to help you update your messaging and strike the right chord with people.

Ditch the Urgency

One thing that’s easy to do away with are any messages that motivate people through urgency. There are a lot of very personal reasons people are anxious right now, so adding to that with messaging they didn’t ask for to begin with is likely to create animosity toward your brand. It doesn’t matter if you’re offering an essential good or not, pressuring people to buy now is an unwelcome tone to take.

Instead, focus messaging on anything you do that makes it easy for people to access your offer, or that positions you as a reliable or consistent presence for them.

Examples of messaging to avoid:

  • Buy Now
  • Don’t Delay
  • Limited Time/Inventory
  • Going Fast

Examples of messaging to embrace:

  • Now Available
  • Fast Checkout
  • Shipping Quickly (if your shipping isn’t severely disrupted)

Avoid Jargon, Be Human

At Metric Theory, we’re big fans of this approach all the time, but especially if you’re in a technical vertical, it’s worth combing through your messaging right now and reducing your reliance on insider jargon. If you’re in B2C, focus more on value propositions and less on features. There are two reasons for this.

First, the people included in purchase decisions are likely very different than just a few weeks ago. For business buyers, be ready for the CFO to play a more central role in the purchase decision. They’re less likely to be drawn in by jargon and features, and even worse, if they see it as obfuscation, you won’t make the sale. You’ll need to focus as much as you can on demonstrating the cost savings or bottom-line value of your offering. For personal markets, people are either being much more conservative with spending or incorporating their partners or even their children in purchase decisions.

Second, during times of crisis or anxiety, people are looking for things that simplify decision-making for them. With everything else they’re contending with, they’re likely not willing or able to put in as much research as they typically might, which is where benchmarking on technical features is most helpful. In this environment, it can be frustrating to buyers, as it suggests their road to understanding a purchase decision is going to be more complex than they’d hoped.

Highlight Discounts & Payment Methods

One of the toughest parts about how people are affected right now is how highly variable the impact is. Some industries are completely shut down, while others are soaring, and there are plenty that are somewhere in between. So some amount of your typical customer base isn’t going to be buying, but others have similar levels of disposable income and are looking for things that give them a little bit of joy, even if they’re not life essentials.

If you had a seasonal discount planned, are discounting aged inventory, or just want to offer a blanket discount to continue attracting new buyers and recover the lost revenue from lower demand, it’s a great time to highlight those promotions in your ads. It’s also a good idea to promote alternative or deferred payment options like installment payment, post-payment, or no-risk trials. Making your products more accessible to people right now naturally demonstrates some empathy with what many people are going through, whether their purchasing power is only slightly impaired, or if they’re cutting way back on non-essential purchases.


For most businesses, advertising to acquire new customers is a necessary facet of business operations. If there’s concern about how your ads will be received right now, small changes that demonstrate empathy with customers and understanding of the new ways purchasing decisions are being made can make all the difference with how people view your brand and their interest in buying from you right now.