Hands up if you’ve read somewhere that the most effective way of communicating with your audience is through conversational writing?
Now keep your hand up if you have heeded that advice and use the technique in all your marketing copy.
Ah, not so good.
Even though it’s a well-known fact that conversational copy works, few businesses are brave enough to use it.
Because they still believe that dry, third person, ‘corporate’ content is what their readers want. And, learning to write effectively in a conversational style is a faff so it’s easier to stick with what they know.
I am about to change that and show you how you can become an active listener, place yourself in the shoes of your reader and write to them in a way that matters to them.
Here we go.
Writing natural copy is difficult. You have spent so long in an academic environment writing in the dry, wooden way as demanded by your teachers, it’s become engrained in you. That means you have to learn to silence the schoolteacher within you and listen to the conversations happening around you.
It doesn’t matter where you are, park, pub or coffee shop, listen to how people communicate with each other. Take note of the phrases and vocabulary they use.
That should become your base language corpus for all your written communications.
You are your customer
This one isn’t easy. You know your product or service back to front and inside out, but do you really see it the same way as your customers?
Think about the people who buy from you. Who are they? How old are they? What stage of life are they at? What are their interests? Then look at your marketing materials – are they really appropriate? Do they resonate with them? Do they find it useful? Are you speaking their language or a hideous hybrid of technical jargon and marketing speak?
The world through your eyes
OK, I’ve talked about being an active listener, now you have to be an active watcher.
This is your excuse to watch loads of TV. Take a look at the adverts. How do the ones you love work? What are they saying that resonates with you? Think about the ones that make you cringe – why are they so bad?
Make a note of what works and what doesn’t so you can use the right techniques in your materials.
Become the shopper
This one is vital if you run an ecommerce business. Go to your favourite site and have a poke around. Take note of how you are shepherded through the buying process, the messages you receive at various points and how their content makes you feel.
Then go to your own site. Does your copy really make you want to buy? Does it should about the benefits? Are the benefits real? Is your messaging hitting the mark? Is the process easy to follow?
It might be a good idea to get someone who hasn’t used your site before to do this while you watch so they can talk you through any areas they find confusing.
Call it a memory box or swipe file, but make sure you keep one. It can be physical or electronic, but it’s where you keep samples of content that really pushed your buttons.
If they made you stop and read, the chances are the same techniques will make your audience do the same. Think carefully about how they were written and constructed and use similar techniques.
Make your writing powerful
So what’s the secret to powerful writing?
Actively studying the marketing messages you see every day. Learn from the best and employ similar techniques in your own content. Why reinvent the wheel? Use your experiences as a consumer to boost the effectiveness of your copy.
About the author: Sally Ormond is an independent copywriter and owner of Briar Copywriting Ltd. For tips on copywriting, marketing and social media, you can also read her words of wisdom on Briar Copywriting’s Blog.