On casual Friday in businesses, we dress down. In the process, our words go down a notch, getting less formal. By the end of the day, the team feels closer. By talking in a casual way, people feel more comfortable opening up, letting down their guards, and being themselves.
The same thing happens when business writing gets personal. Content written in this style quickly gets to the point. This is something that most fail to do. They’re too busy tooting their own horns, getting bogged down with formal language – that they lose the interest of their readers.
The lofty, bureaucratic, and verbose sounding text is read less and less – and it’s not working for businesses today.
Why? With email, cell phones, voice mails, everyone is getting interrupted more often, it’s taking longer to complete tasks. The work pace is frenzied, rushing from phone, to email, to physical meetings and back and forth, again and again; all day long, day in and day out. The time it takes to read a lengthy corporate writing is non-existent.
In a pinch for information, people are turning to the Internet where they are finding facts and facts and personal campaigns. What most people don’t realize is that the Internet is driving a personal communication movement. Where else can you communicate with your customers in their pajamas at 3am?
Just because customers are visiting you in their pajamas is no reason to get too personal and say things like “Nice bunny slippers.” That language is inappropriately casual.
Getting personal in marketing copy is about achieving a balance between being casual and professional. The trick to making this happen is by listening to your sales department speak to customers. Compare the sales pitch to your marketing copy.
You’ll notice how the sales presentation zeroes in on key selling points without burdening the customer with excess information. The customers hear how a product / service is going to improve their business or personal life. The sales person talks in a relaxed manner; establishing rapport intermixed with a call to action. Sales people know that being personal and getting to the point sells, it’s a lesson that marketing folks are slow to implement.
Here are some ways to get your marketing copy personal.
1. Use personal words:
Formal English generally avoids personal words like “you,” “we,” and “I.” This personal touch increases our interest when we read. Why do readers feel this way? They think we are talking to them on a one-on-one level.
Another way to get personal is to use active verbs. These verbs make sentences direct and easy to understand.
Most people remember learning in English class how a verb is a doing word like: plan, market, create, write, ask, purchase, and buy. These are active sounding words. But, their movement is slowed down when you surround them with passive verbs like was, were, and been.
2. Use conventional words.
Communicate your message in a clear, direct, and conversational way. If you have to use the dictionary to double check the use of a word, chances are you’re trying to impress. That’s not the point. Your job is to get your customer recognizing the value of your goods and services while at the same time creating a call to action. However, using a Thesaurus is helpful in finding other words to avoid sounding repetitive.
3. Read your marketing copy out loud.
Ask yourself are these words used in everyday speech? If the answer’s no, you’ve gone over your readers’ heads.
4. Write using shorter sentences.
Create sentences with an average length of 15 to 20 words. This number is derived from the Fog Test, which Robert Gunning invented to measure readable writing.
5. Be perky.
Use quick, lively sentences to emphasize points. Play with words. Remember, creativity is not something reserved for fiction. Good copy resonates with the hearts and minds of customers. It can also entertain in clever ways to illustrates points.
6. Minimize the use of facts and figures.
While facts and figures might be important to make your case, they can be a snoozer if they are difficult to understand or have no explanation. Ask yourself, ”Do these charts and figures demonstrate how our product / service helps customers?” If it’s just bells and whistles with no cause and effect, it’s not going to resonate with the customer. Remember, a call to action marketing piece talks about the benefits to your customer, not the facts and features of the product.
Have casual Friday for your marketing copy and discover for yourself how being personal gets the order.