Write Like You Speak – Conversing with Your Target Audience
By Ella Wilson
When it comes to getting your target audience’s attention, speaking to them in a voice they recognize – their own – is a huge part of the conversion equation. When I train people who want to write their own blogs, ads, newsletters, etc. – I always tell people the same thing: write like you speak.
Which, from looking at their creations, is much harder than you’d think.
For most people, their daily writing is limited to occasional emails, Facebook status updates, and grocery lists. So of course they’re not going to pull literary genius out of their back pockets the first time. And I think what stumps people is that, when they sit down to “write a piece” – meaning “something other people are actually going to read” – they are instantly transported back to high school English class. Which honestly is the very worst place to be if you want to write something remotely non-snoozeworthy.
Forget everything you learned in high school English class
The gap between marketing copy and academic writing is gargantuan. Just because you got straight As from Mrs. Clendenning doesn’t mean you’re going to impress the incredibly busy and skeptical people you’re trying to sell your product to. See that? I just used a preposition at the end of a sentence. AND THAT IS OK.
Quick and dirty rules to break what you learned in English class:
- Never refer to the protagonist in your blog, story, or ad as “one”
Ex. Do not say “One needs to buy this product to protect against bee stings.” Instead say “You need to buy this product to protect from bee stings.”
- YOU is king (and queen)
In your content marketing material, you’re always trying to have a one-on-one conversation with your reader. Use “you.” Just like if you were speaking to a friend.
- For the love of God I will cut the next person who puts two spaces between their sentences
It’s a dead giveaway that you’re pulling from high school English class instead of a real connection to your reader.
- Not every sentence needs to be a sentence
Think about the way you speak in real life. “Whoa, cool. Yeah. Be right there. Sorry I … I dropped my Starbucks on your … cat? Or is that a dog? An ugly dog…” Write like you speak.
- Watch how your copy LOOKS
Switch it up when you’re writing. What’s “it?” Everything. Make sure you use both long and short sentences, numbers where you can, creative punctuation, quotes, etc. Anything you can do to break up long blocks of text is a good thing. Notice how many times I’ve used dashes and ellipses in this blog? That’s no accident.
Don’t hang yourself with slang
Slang is so much fun to use … if you’re intimately familiar with its usage. Slang is particularly powerful because it truly is the language that people use with each other within their most intimate in-groups. If you’re in that in-group, and you know how to use the slang, by all means do.
On the other hand, slang that you don’t know how to use is nearly destined to be a disaster. Slang words have such subtle connotations. If you aren’t in the in-group that regularly uses them, you’re very likely to miss some key point to usage and you’ll end up looking like an idiot.
Also, if you’re going to use slang, you have to use that same conversational tone throughout whatever you’re writing. You want everything to flow – not sound like Giada de Laurentis throwing in a heavily Italian-accented “parmesan” or “prosciutto” where everything else she says sounds like good old California English.
If you can, run your slang-riddled copy by someone who speaks that way. They can point out any misuse of the words.
Here, just … just let me do it
I’d love to give your marketing copy the flavor it needs to turn prospects into leads (that rhymed and yes, I’m proud of myself). Get started now with a FREE 1-hour consult. Just give us a call at 877-236-9094 or visit us online at www.GetUWired.com today!