o tBContent is really important, especially right now. To really nail it, you need to know how to approach messaging. It has to be human without being too self-centered. It has to be empathetic without dwelling or assuming. It has to position you as an expert without being alienating or patronizing. 
 
Exhausting, no?
  
There are plenty of articles out there about how best to go about using content to generate demand. Not to mention selling in the midst of a pandemic.  
 
Many of those articles ultimately inspired this one, in which I will share some best practices for nailing the tone of your content in this, the weirdest year, 2020. 
 

Let there be levity!

 
When all this first started, I struggled to find the line between acknowledging the ways in which our reality had changed and dwelling on it. Then, like everyone else, my inbox began to fill up with long-winded emails from every company I’d ever engaged with.  All trying their best to put empathy first. 
 
The tone of every email was somber and each one felt like a facsimile of the one before it. I stopped reading them, deleting them as soon as they popped into my inbox. In their place, I would have loved to find something lighter. Something relatable that made sense given what was happening but didn’t make me feel like I was heavy from soaking in it. For example:   
 
  • Video: With a short video, you can say what you need to, but in a way that feels more personal. Give the people a little home office tour! Have a virtual cup of coffee with them!
  • Humor: A quick, funny anecdote can go a long way. Regardless of what you’re about to say, it never hurts to lighten the mood a little by starting off with something random or funny that people can relate to.
  • Recommendations: Read a great book lately? Heard a song that puts you in a good mood? Have a recipe that’s easy and delicious? Took a funny picture of your cat? Sharing is caring.

Stay true to your value prop

This feels like it shouldn’t be that hard to do in content, right? But when the market dries up overnight, it’s just human nature to scramble to find some connection between your solution and everyone else’s reality—no matter how tenuous. 
 
Unfortunately, all this does is damage your credibility and signal to people that you’re putting sales ahead of experience. While companies and individuals certainly shouldn’t be vilified for this, it’s also not the kind of content that’s likely to help generate demand. 
 
Instead, be thoughtful about how you’re reframing your value prop. Don’t focus on the issue-at-large, but rather about the impact it’s having on the people you’re selling to. How can your product help alleviate those smaller, more specific pains? 
 
Regardless of what’s happening in the world, sales is not about trying to convince someone who doesn’t need your product that they do. It’s about finding the people who do need it and showing them why. 

 

Read it out loud

 
Doing this has saved my content so many times, it deserves a medal. 
 
It seems simple, but there’s magic to it. It’s a fact that our brains close gaps for us when we read to ourselves. Maybe it’s their way of telling us that they love us no matter what.
 
Regardless, reading out loud to someone (or to yourself) circumvents this handy little brain trick. As someone who is physically pained by my own grammar and spelling mistakes, doing this has brought a lot of discomfort to my life in the short term, but I am better for it. 
 
In addition to helping with avoidable grammar/spelling mistakes, reading out loud allows you to be someone else for a moment: your audience. That is who you want to be, ideally the entire time you’re writing, but this is the next best thing. 
 

Other stuff to watch for: 

  • Does the spirit of your message get lost if you read with a certain inflection?

  • Could anything you wrote be misinterpreted as offensive, rude, or patronizing?
  • Is it tedious for you to read? If so, think about breaking up the text with images or just paring it down a bit. 

Be Generous in a Way That Makes Sense

 
We’ve all heard it said that in order to close more deals, you need to create equitable relationships. In other words, you have to give before you get.  
 
We agree with this 100%. However, there are ways to be generous that don’t involve inadvertently hurting your own business. As much as we may want to, we can’t stop marketing and selling because something bad happens.
 
Not all businesses can afford to give their time or product away for free. For those who can, it’s a wonderful gesture of good faith; for those who can’t, there are other ways to be generous: 
 
  • Create content that provides value without having any other motive.

     

  • Listen to what your own team is saying and address those things externally, too.

 

  • Share tips that have helped your productivity or apps that have eased your stress.

 

  • Send Direct Mail that will make people smile.

Finally, in the interest of practicing what I preach, here are some great examples of this I’ve seen companies and individuals doing: