Have you ever called an IT technician and felt frustrated because you didn’t understand a word of what he explained, even though he was speaking the same language as you? Or maybe you have experienced something similar when dealing with a different professional, and had to ask Google for answers.
Now, let’s swap places. Are you sure your clients or customers know what you’re talking about when you write to them?
Unfortunately, we often assume that the other person has the same level of knowledge as us, and talk from our place, rather than from theirs.
This is called the curse of knowledge and it might be one of the reasons why your audience is not engaging with you as much as you’d like on your website, social media, blog or newsletters.
Very rarely will they ask for a clarification — depending on their level of interest or whether it’s a personal message — but as a rule, they will either ignore you or end up unfollowing you after a while (be honest, you would do the same in their situation).
And this means you’re also losing potential potential clients.
That’s why today I would like to share with you a few tips that will help you connect with your audience and be more effective in your communications, whether it’s on your website, social media, newsletters or blog articles:
Set your goal. What do you want to achieve with your copy?
The first thing you should ask yourself is what the purpose of your writing is. Why should people read this? Are you trying to inform? Entertain? Sell? What do you want your audience to do, feel or know after they read your copy?
The answers to this question will be the compass of your writing.
Define your audience. Who are you writing to?
Understand very well who your audience is. How much do they know about the topic? (This is very different from “how much they SHOULD know”. Be realistic and honest).
Are you talking to new or repeat clients? Are they aware of your company/brand? Are they familiar with the technical terms you’re using?
If you’re writing to more than one type of audience, you should segment your message: Create different pieces of copy targeted at each audience and deliver it to them through the appropriate channels. Social media adverts and newsletters are very good tools for segmented messages.
If you can’t segment your message, then write taking into account the different audiences. Your copy will not be that effective, so try not to do this often.
Unless you’re writing for industry peers or colleagues, try to avoid words that are not familiar to anybody outside your field. You might think that you’re not being that accurate, but your audience will appreciate it.
For example, I could have started this article explaining that the curse of knowledge is cognitive bias, but I chose to omit that term to provide a much simpler explanation (after all, who cares about the name of this psychological effect, we’re not scientists after all).
Let me show you another example:
❌ "In our dental clinic, we also offer highly aesthetic composite fillings in the anterior region."
You offer what? What’s an anterior region?
✅ "In our clinic, we also offer highly aesthetic fillings in your front teeth that copy their natural colour, and makes your smile look 100% real."
This makes more sense for the vast majority of patients.
Use simple words and be clear
This could go together with the previous point. Clarity is vital on your communications, no matter the media or the format. It’s better to be too clear than slightly technical, specially if you’re trying to sell. Remember, a confused mind won’t buy.
As a rule of thumb, use the words that your audience would use. For example, instead of saying:
❌ "You will gradually develop oral and written communication skills in French."
You could simplify it into this:
✅ "You will be able to speak and write in French step by sept."
Which is a more natural language.
❌ "Property for sale. Sole agency."
Are all your potential clients familiar with the concept of sole agency? If it’s an advert targeted at first-time buyers, better play safe and write this instead:
✅ "Property for sale. You will only find it at ShoeBox Properties Barcelona"
Add an explanation to break the curse of knowledge
If you still think you have to use technical terms (there might be many reasons to do so after all), make sure you also add an explanation or clarification.
Let’s say you’re a marketer and you need to use the term A/B testing in a proposal for a client, and this client, let’s say from the catering industry, has never heard about A/B testing (probably will have to google it). You could write something on these lines:
✅ "For the A/B testing, we will be using your current database. A/B testing consists on...."
Harness the power of metaphors, comparisons and mental images
This is a compelling way to help your readers picture in their minds what you’re saying. Think about it, you do this all the time when you’re talking, don’t you? Then why not use it in your copy to make it more powerful? The text may get a bit longer than expected, but trust me, it’s worth it because your audience will be able to picture your message perfectly in their minds.
Let’s see it with a couple of examples:
❌ "New laptop with Intel Celeron N4020 processor"
What’s that? Why is that good? Do I need it?
✅ "New laptop that will allow you complete your tasks much faster and without freezing thanks to the innovative Intel Celeron N4020 processor."
❌ "Lola shoes bring together comfort and Italian style."
In this case “comfort” and “style” are not technical terms, but they are rather abstract and difficult to define in our minds. So let’s create a picture to make this message more specific:
✅ "LoLa shoes are as comfortable as wearing sneakers all day, and so stylish that you will want to wear them for every occasion."
As you can see, writing effective messages for your clients or customers isn’t rocket science, it just requires three simple steps:
- Know your objective
- Know your audience
- Wear your reader’s shoes at all times
I hope you found this post helpful. Now you’re ready to start writing messages that will connect with your customers or clients! But if you think you should leave this task in the hands of a professional, I will be more than happy to help you. Send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know how I can help you write effective copy for your website, blog, social media, newsletters and more.