Good copywriting is like good driving—you shouldn’t notice it.
If I get lift from someone who jerks through the gears, drives too fast, rails about traffic, cuts people up, I inevitably think ‘never again.’
I’m not saying I’m a perfect driver – I invoked someone’s rage in the garden centre car park last week because at 3 miles per hour, I was turning and didn’t see his car coming (at the same crawling speed). Even after apologising via a smile and shrug that said “Yikes, I’m a dope sorry!” he continued to scream at me behind his window. I spent the rest of the trip ducking in and out of leylandii and tropical fish tanks hoping I wouldn’t see him. Garden centres are brutal portals of aggression.
Good copywriting should make a customer think about the outcome, about what happens after the sale, what’s possible, what the transformation is, and not about the writing.
Just like grinding gears can draw attention to the driving instead of the drive, one thing that draws attention to copy is when the tone of voice, or the style doesn’t align with the image of the business, the industry, and the customer.
That’s why you don’t get funeral homes advertising in the style of a monster truck rally advert (unless you’re in episode 34 of a Write With Influence podcastof course).
We all know what it’s like when we meet people that don’t match our own style and tone. If you’re animated and someone speaks in a monotone, or if you’re calm and composed, facing someone who is like an excitable puppy, it can be difficult to feel a connection. I’m relatively lively without being manic, and I like people with a similar energy. I remember talking to a solicitor who spoke at a snail’s pace which I found infuriating. He was charging £350 an hour.
Now if you’re writing copy for your own business, it’s a little easier to settle on the right style and tone. You can draw upon your experience of working with customers and how you talk to clients in real life, and you can always read your copy out loud to someone and ask if it sounds like you.
But if you’re a copywriter writing for a client, you have to be more conscious about what tone of voice is going to align the personality of the business, industry, and customer. In the Write With Influence Course, one of the simple tools to help copywriters think about this, is something I call the Audience Thermometer. It’s a simple quiz that asks you questions about different factors of the business and target market, and then suggests where to pitch the tone of your copy.
On last week’s podcast I walked through a handful of these elements such as price, industry, and the pain of the problem, explaining how these can influence the style of your copy.
This week’s podcast if you’ve not picked it up yet looks at using FOMO (fear of missing out according to the cool kids) to create urgency in your offer. But again, urgency is about persuasive encouragement, not pushiness. How far you can go with these techniques, again depends on your target market.
Episode 35 (with the world’s worst adoption agency) can be found here
Before I go though – if you do write on behalf of your own business, don’t be afraid to let your personality show in your copy. You’re more likely to attract clients you love if you do so. As this quotation by Charles Simic states (and he’s a Pulitzer Prize winner so you know, we should probably listen to him):
“He who cannot howl, will not find his pack”
Howl away my friend, howl away…
Till next time, keep believing,
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