When you write to your clients – whether it’s a fancy monthly newsletter or a simple quick email – do you talk at them, or do you have a conversation with them? The single most effective copywriting secret, that will guarantee that your letters and marketing materials will knock your clients socks off, is to master the art of conversational writing.
Conversational writing, done properly, establishes a closeness between you and your client, and gains their confidence and attention. It’s not pretentious, boring, or dry – problems that plague most business writing. Instead, writing with a light, refreshing style will pleasantly surprise your clients, and will get them to continue reading to the very last word…especially important when it comes time to ask for their order.
Here are 6 of my best tips to help you write with the easy, conversational style that separates good writers from bad.
1. Don’t be afraid of “you”
You’d be surprised how many people are afraid to use the word “you” in their business writing, thinking it sounds too direct, too informal. But that’s exactly the point. You’re having a conversation directly with your customer. Using “you” gains their attention, and now you can make your case to them.
It also keeps your focus on the right person – your customer. Remember the marketing mantra “benefits, not features?” Using “you” means you’re thinking about your customers’ wants and needs, not just tooting your own horn.
2. Contractions are okay
People, when they talk, rarely use the full “you are,” “there is,” “can not,” and so forth. We talk in contractions. It’s perfectly okay – and even preferred – to do the same in your writing. Don’t worry – we won’t think that you’re not smart when you write simple sentences. On the contrary, they’re a lot easier to read. And trust me, your clients would rather read easy sentences than difficult ones.
3. Avoid clichés
Enclosed please find. As per your request. Kindly advise. Whereas. Yawn. You’d never say these things face-to-face with your clients, so don’t say them in your writing, either.
4. Write to a specific person
When you write the copy for your new brochure, for example, imagine yourself having a conversation with one specific person. Pick someone – could be an actual customer, could be your sister-in-law. Doesn’t matter who, as long as that person shares some characteristics with your target market. Think about this one person for a few minutes. Picture the person. What personality traits does this person have? What hobbies does this person enjoy? Where does this person live? What is really important to this person?
It doesn’t matter if ultimately your writing will be seen by a whole lot of people who are all unique in their own rights. Of course every one of your clients is different and has their own distinct circumstances. But for now, ignore those differences and focus on just one person.
5. Write to a specific person sitting in a bar
Now, imagine yourself sitting in a bar with that person. Away from the fluorescent lights and formal atmosphere of the office, it’s just the two of you. Imagine that you want to convince that person to buy your product…or read your book…or whatever the goal of your writing may be.
- How would you talk? Would you be lively and lighthearted, or would you be more serious?
- How would you frame your argument? What points would you use first, and how would you back them up?
- What sorts of words would you use? Would you use a lot of technical jargon, or would you keep it simple?
- How would your sentences sound? Would there be a lot of back and forth between the two of you, or would you do most of the talking? Where would you have to stop to take a breath?
Imagine the entire conversation and write it down. Now use this style in all of your marketing materials. Keep the same tone and use the same words as that imaginary conversation in the bar.
6. Be polite
In your haste to implement all these terrific suggestions for conversational writing, don’t forget one important thing: Always thank your customer for their interest, their order, or their business. It’s still important to be polite. If you don’t open your communication with a thank you, by all means, end it with one.
So with that, thank you for your interest in my newsletter, and enjoy having delightful written conversations with your customers!