I don’t think there’s one correct or precise style for writing copy. But there’s one cardinal rule. Don’t be boring, even if you’re writing for inventory analysts, bankers, accountants and corporate attorneys.
But “be conversational” in copywriting means that your brand is doing the talking. The conversation you’d have at a bar with a few good friends might be appropriate to your audience … but the conversation usually takes a new turn when somebody’s paying you to do something.
(1) Bond with storytelling instead of style.
A few years ago, I was less than thrilled to get an email message, promising to send “all my contacts” an “adult” video … unless I immediately sent $1900 in bitcoin. The computer repair shop pointed out that it’s a phishing expedition; if they really had all my data, they’d threaten something worse.
I posted the story on Facebook and pondered what would happen if they really did send the video. It seems many people got the same message. We joked, half of them would realize my account had been hacked while the other half couldn’t resist a sneak peek at the video. It’s no big deal anymore.
Brands that differentiate based on slang will risk becoming outdated … and more importantly, they don’t convey a meaningful message. At one time they might have come across as daring and contemporary. Today you might as well write about someone being a pain in the patootie.
Focus instead on developing your brand narrative. People will remember your story long after they’ve forgotten your style.
(2) Focus on your client’s symptoms (a/k/a pain points).
Here in Philadelphia we celebrate mosquito season every summer. Every time I walked the dog, I would ome home with bites the size of a silver dollar (or a Canadian loonie).
I didn’t google the problem: causes of bites, types of mosquitoes, or even 5 ways my mindset might be attracting more and bigger bites.
I googled the pain. And I found relief: baking soda, onions (yes, really — they work), or vinegar.
I’d probably benefit a great deal from an article like, “Why Idiots Who Insist on Wearing Shorts All Summer Will Get More Mosquito Bites” or even “Why Mosquitos Tend To Converge In Spots Where Dogs Like To Sniff.” But right now, I just wanted the itching to go away.
Since I like psychology, I’m always tempted to write articles like, “Why People Resist Hiring A Copywriter.” Sometimes that title will work…but more often, the pain point is, “How will I get this sales letter written by Tuesday?” And I’d be tempted to add a few colorful words in there.
Your brand becomes “the person who knows how to make the pain go away.”
(3) Skip the small talk and jump to the message.
Have you ever sat through a series of boring intro talks, waiting to hear the main speaker? That’s what comes to mind when I see a website home page that opens with a “welcome.”
Or an email that opens with a long story that has nothing to do with the topic of the email. (The only exception: If I’ve built a strong relationship with the sender, I want to know everything about them and no story will be too personal or too long.)
When you meet a friend for coffee, you probably go through a ritual of “How are you” and “Do you need another latte?”
But when you embark on a consultation with someone you’ve paid, you probably won’t be thrilled to spend a lot of time “getting acquainted.” You want to get right to the reason you’re there. And your copy works the same way … unless you want to brand yourself as a long-winded conversationalist who doesn’t mind wasting other people’s time.
Skip the small talk. Dig into the heavy stuff. Get known for getting things done.
I’m happy to work with you on developing your brand with storytelling. Click here to learn more about how we might work together.
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