Saturday, October 27, 2012

How to Write for Your Audiences


Courtesy of NewGadget00

Consider the following two headlines:

"Optimise Your Basal Metabolism with Product X - The World's Most Technologically Advanced Nutritional Supplement"

versus

"Burn Away Ugly Fat while You Rest with the Supplement Most Olympians Use"

Which appeals to you more?  If you're like most people, the answer would probably be the second.

Unlike the first, it is jargon free, uses simple everyday language, and is more credible (with the backing of Olympic athletes). It is also free from unnecessary hyperbole.

The most important cardinal rule is that you're writing for them and not for yourself. Advertising copy isn't a platform for your company to wax lyrical about "how great thou art". Neither is it a place to swarm your audience with irrelevant details.

Instead, it is an opportunity for you to attract, excite and interest potential customers to what you have to offer in a succinct, pointed and relevant manner.

To succeed in crafting great copy, consider the following tips:

1) It is stupid to make them feel stupid. As far as possible, avoid unnecessary technical terms, art speak, legalese, or health jargons unless your customers are engineers, art curators, lawyers or doctors! Your job is to make your customers feel inspired and motivated - not vice versa.

2) In the words of Michael Fishman (as heard on Derek Halpern's fabulous "Social Triggers" podcast) - “Don’t think OF the market. Think AS the market.” What are they worried about? Whom do they discuss their problems and issues with? What are their motivations, wishes and wants?

3) Use the same language as your customers. A good way to learn this is to observe how they talk with their friends, family or colleagues - online, face-to-face, on the phone - and mirror the way they communicate.

4) Understand their real concerns and motivations related to your product or service and build your messages around them. This may entail conducting detailed socio-psychological research techniques such as ethnographic interviews (an approach used by anthropologists) as well as careful observation of consumer behaviours.

5) Establish your credibility wherever possible. This can be done through testimonials, independent research studies, or market share statistics that show yourself as a leader in a certain area. Facts always work better than self-boasting copy.

6) Finally in copy writing, just like speech writing, do heed Winston Churchill's advice, ie “A good speech (copy) should be like a woman's skirt: long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest”

Writing for one's audiences requires a combination of intuition and investigation mixed with good old common sense. It is an art and a science which often comes through years of practice and diligence. Hopefully, the above tips helps to provide you with a strong foundation in which to begin with.
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