If you take a look around my website or any of the spaces where I promote my services, you’ll probably see me use the phrase “conversion through conversation.” Actually, I use “conversation” and all its forms often. Why?
Well, let me go back a few years to when I was in grad school and tell you about the fundamental truths that communication scholars accept as they research.
- At the center of communication is people.
- People use language to construct perception.
- Perception is reality.
- Reality changes when you change perception.
People construct the entirety of their reality through words. They converse everything into and out of being. Being a great communicator means having the ability to effectively converse with and relate to others, and to use those skills to sway and persuade others (without force).
That’s why I believe in copy that reads like you’re talking to a friend. It’s natural. It’s informal. It’s trustworthy. It’s not pretentious. And it lends itself to a qualitative kind of persuasion that can’t be measured in numbers except for the ones in your bank account after you make the sale.
Many business people feel like this more relaxed style of copy is for small businesses only. Mom and Pop shops have the local charm or the handmade bent. They can “get away with it.” Big companies want to project authority, so they feel like they have to use big words, technical terms, and position themselves as untouchable.
But Mom and Pops aren’t getting away with anything. They’re using a powerful tool and profiting from it. I think big businesses who reject conversational styles are doing themselves a disservice.
Businesses of all sizes benefit from conversational copy and here’s why.
People do business with people they like.
And we’re more likely to take suggestions from people we like.
It’s a simple concept, but if you think about your favorite places to shop and eat, the atmosphere has a lot to do with your enjoyment and your desire to continue being a patron. Maybe you love that hair dresser’s skills, but if she’s mean and never listens, you probably won’t be back. Maybe you frequent a diner whose food is maybe a little questionable, but the price is right and the waitress remembers how you take your coffee. Maybe you continue to pay a little extra for your car insurance because your agent remembers your kids’ names.
The point is, when others take the time to establish a friendly relationship with us, we’re more likely to want to continue to use their services even if those services aren’t always exactly the way we want them.
Everyone else is doing the corporate thing.
When I read messages from business owners who want help with copy and content, it seems like most of them describe the writing they want with words like “professional” and “expert.” They post links as a reference to what they’re looking for, and every single website it full of stuffy, stuck-up text that sounds just the same as the last site. And all of it is boring as hell.
As a business owner, you’re probably concerned with two things.
- Being seen as an authority.
- Ways to set yourself apart and stand out.
Credibility doesn’t come just from being able to use the jargon; it comes from being able to explain value in a way that anyone can understand. If you’re easy to understand and forthcoming, you’ll generally be perceived as more trustworthy.
Changing your voice is one of the simplest things you can do if you’re looking to distinguish yourself. Get out of the tower. Come down and mingle with the people. Speak their language. The business that gets remembered is the one that gets the sale, and a more casual tone might be all it takes to make your page memorable.
The Cool Factor
I don’t care if you are an Apple-head or not; they are on point when it comes to their copy game. They have successfully branded themselves with coolness by developing a casual, minimal, hip voice. Do yourself and go look at their website. They use short headlines that sound like the way we text and email each other. Their longer copy might use a little bit of tech-speak (because it’s a tech company) but on the whole, they use easy-to-understand words, simple sentence structures, and they keep the focus on YOU as the consumer.
If you need more examples, check out the copy on the Velocity Partners website. They’re a serious B2B marketing agency, and their copy include lines like “stuff we did for clients” and “opt into our crap.” I love it. The website is snappy, the copy is fresh, and they feel like they could be my best friends at work. And they work with big business.
(Full disclosure, in looking at their website and saw they were hiring copywriters and freelancers. I was extremely tempted to submit something, just because I love the copy on their site THAT MUCH.)
If you need an example of a brick and mortar shop, look no further than GymIt. Their website uses punchy lines, speaks plainly about the problems most gym-goers have, and has an About page that I wish everyone would read as a glowing example of the power of good copy.
Conversation is the only thing that makes sales possible. Harness it. Use it. Get talking.
Next week, I’ll give you a few pointers on how exactly you can use your copy to foster relationships. Chat with you then! (See what I did there?)