Many people assume quality writing needs to be formal writing. This is a stigma that executive types have an especially difficult time getting over. For people immersed in a business-eat-business world, the writing is usually sterile, obnoxiously professional, and, in many cases, overtly political. When they try to tie that concept into copywriting, well… Let’s just say it doesn’t quite work out.
One of the primary reasons we build audience profiles is so we can talk to our potential customers like actual people. It’s so we can avoid sounding like soulless corporate machines. People like to buy from other people, not from robots–why do you think so many shoppers still prefer to wait in line for a flesh-and-blood cashier instead of deal with a tempermental self-checkout machine? It’s because even the most distasteful and unenthused Walmart employees have something the machines never will–a personality!
Writing with a personality can connect you with your audience even if the product you’re marketing is blasé. You don’t need a bomb product or service (though it certainly can help); you just need a badass character.
Of course, the personality you put behind your voice definitely changes depending on the audience you’re trying to target. You’d talk to a group of metalheads much differently than you would talk to the church choir. One thing is sure, though: you will never talk to any audience you’re marketing to like a machine. Corporate speak should be left in business meetings and law offices–written documents that aren’t trying to make a sale–and left out of copywriting. Until there is a Robopocolypse, the chances you will ever be marketing to a machine are slim to none.
So, how do you write with character? Here are a few useful tips:
First thing’s first: know your target audience.
I seriously can’t stress this enough. Despite the countless articles we’ve already written about audience profiling or how vital it is to other parts of marketing, we aren’t sick of it yet. Knowing your target audience is maybe the single most important thing you can do to truly get your company off the ground! For bringing personality into your writing, this is an essential part to understanding which personality you need to acquire. Like I discussed in an earlier Write Brained article, copywriters must adjust their personality for every audience they mean to target. People respond to certain things differently. In order to optimise your writing and truly connect to your audience, having a firm understanding on what they respond to well will make things so much easier.
Understand what “vernacular” is and use it well.
Dictionary.com defines “vernacular” as “native or indigenous” language. As you can imagine, every audience has their own means of communicating. Chris’s article on keyword research points out how important knowing the language your audience uses for SEO. Not only will using the correct vernacular help you show up in searches, but it will help you connect to your audience. Not only are you speaking to them directly in a language they understand, but you are talking to them as though you already know who they are. This kind of connection is invaluable and helps you build strong relationships that can turn into loyal clients down the road.
Break writing conventions.
Once again, I’ve already written an article about challenging writing conventions, and a lot of what I had to say was about exactly this: personality. Once again, people like to feel like they’re talking to other people. Realistically speaking, no one in the world talks the way they write, but sometimes standard writing conventions can make an article sound too formal and stuffy. Experiment with starting sentences with conjunctions, using sentence fragments, making up your own words, and addressing your reader directly. These tricks can help you sound more human and ultimately help bring some personality into your copy.
Emphasize, emphasize, emphasize!
I am a big fan of italics, bolding, and THE CAPS LOCK KEY. If you’ve read any of my previous Write Brained articles, you’ll find them littered with these little details. Emphasis is an excellent tool to manipulate the character of your writing. When we speak, we naturally emphasize certain words or phrases, but it’s often lost on writing. By bringing it back through the above mentioned methods or others (like parentheses or m-dashes and other punctuation tricks), you can revive that spark and add a bit of flare to your work. This can be overdone, though, so be careful. You don’t want to look like you have tourettes or something.
Writing doesn’t have to be boring or bland. You aren’t, so why should your work be? Truly connect with your audience and give yourself a written personality. Not only is the writing more fun to do, but the results are more fun to count.
For more writing tricks and tips, check back with me on Write Brained every Friday!