What do Your Words Say About You?March 12th 2013 Sally Ormond copywriting tips, copywriting voice, taking on your client's voice
Words are very powerful things.
The way we speak, the phrases we use and the words we choose all say something about the people we are. Within seconds the person you’re speaking to would have made a judgement about how approachable or friendly you come across as being, whether you’re a chatty informal type or slightly more staid, in fact they would have summed you up by the time you’ve finished uttering your first few sentences.
That’s why you should be so careful about the words you choose in your marketing.
As a copywriter, I spend a lot of time talking to my clients about the tone and voice of their marketing copy because its essential that what I write reflects them and their company’s image. You see, copywriting isn’t about sitting down and stringing a few sentences together to make something that is, hopefully interesting and that sells a client’s product or service. It’s also about getting under the skin of your client and understanding how they want to be viewed by their customers and that means writing as them.
Leaving your personality at home
Obviously, I do have a personality, but there’s no room for it when it comes to writing for other people.
That’s why it’s so important for me to meet or at least speak over the phone with new clients. That way I can listen to how they speak, the turn of phrase they use, the tone of their voice, which all helps me craft the right tone and approach in the writing that I produce.
Let’s face it, for the vast majority of us, the first interaction we’ll have with a company is its website, brochure, advert or newsletter. This is where we start to make assumptions about what they would be like to do business with. But what happens if that picture doesn’t match the impression you get when you speak or meet with them? It’s unsettling, possibly enough to prevent you from doing business with them. That’s why it’s essential that the words, tone and approach used in your marketing materials mirror those you would use during a face to face interaction.
So, as a copywriter I have to shelve my own style, phrases and approach and become my client. It all sounds a bit Dr Who, morphing into my clients, but it’s the best way to create compelling copy that fits their business perfectly, especially when they are small businesses. You may think this isn’t so important for large corporates, but you’d be wrong.
In their case it’s not so much fitting in with a person, but with a brand. They’ve probably spent a small fortune on developing their brand identity so it’s essential you adapt your writing to fit that ‘house style’. Many of the corporate clients I work with have a ‘style book’ that explains what terms should be used, preferred words, taboo words etc. But if one is not available then reading through their current literature and website will help immerse you in their preferred style.
So you see copywriting is a whole lot more than just writing – it must sell, be relevant and interesting and it must perfectly reflect your client.