So, we've already talked about proofreading and structural editing. We're striving for the perfect written content, free of mistakes! But, what about when breaking the rules is actually better?
This comes down to All Write's main philosophy - learning to speak your audience's language.
Many of my clients are good writers and know what they're talking about. But, they come to me for help because they can't write in a way that resonates with their audience. It's usually because their writing is too formal.
Perfection isn't always best! Here's how you can break the rules like a professional:
1. Start sentences with conjunctions
Breaking this 'rule' will make English teachers hate you, but your audience will thank you.
Yes, you CAN start sentences with conjunctions. And, you can make it look good. There's no existing rule that says this isn't allowed in English.
We're taught not to do this because it's informal. Starting a sentence with 'but' won't look good in essays, reports, or other cases where formal English is expected. In the marketing world, however, the formality of your writing will depend on your audience.
Starting with words like 'so' or 'and' gives you shorter, snappier sentences that resonate in your audience's mind.
The trick is to make sure it still reads well. Read your sentences aloud and you'll hear if your words make sense. Just be cautious not to over-do it.
2. Try using some slang, mate!
You have to know your target audience and research how they communicate. You wouldn't advertise a new toy to kids the same way you'd advertise life insurance.
Similarly, you wouldn't normally use Aussie slang if you were selling to Americans.
Talk to the people you're selling to and find out the kind of language they use. Language is specific to age groups, genders and locations - people just a few years or kilometers apart may have a completely different way of communicating!
Urban Dictionary is great for looking up slang words you don't understand, so you can learn how to use them.
And most importantly, stay updated. Slang can change within days or weeks, and if yours is outdated, you'll lose your connection with your audience.
3. Balance first and second person
You were probably taught to write objectively in school, but marketing is rarely objective!
It's important to show your business's personality. This is a great step to building a relationship with your audience.
I like to use a lot of first-person in my writing, because I'm a one-woman business and I want potential clients to get to know me. My communication often starts with an 'I'.
However, you need to decide if using first-person will engage your audience or alienate them. Don't talk about yourself too much, because most of the time, no one cares!
Find a balance of speaking from an 'I, our, we' perspective and a 'you, your' perspective. Show emotion and empathy. Let your personality show and build trust with your audience, but don't forget that it's all about them, not you.
Here's more on pronouns.
4. Keep your writing simple
Overly descriptive writing can become extremely boring. Particularly in the online world, where people have very short attention spans, this could cost you potential customers.
Forget the thesaurus, the metaphors, the cliches, and get to the point.
Think about seeing a billboard while you're driving. If it has more than a few words on it, you just don't have time to read! It's the same for all marketing material. People aren't going to read something that's longer than it needs to be. We all get bored easily, and automatically avoid ads.
Here's my formula: create a catchy headline, say something useful (with the lowest word count possible!), find a way for it to be memorable, then add a call to action. This works across most communication strategies!
Do you agree with my rule-breaking tips? Head to my Facebook page and comment to let me know!
If you're looking for more writing tips, look through my blog's writing category!
Or, for a personalised writing guide for your business, check out my Digital Writing Style Guide.