From meh to YEAH!

How many times have you heard a company describe themselves as “unique” or a “leader” in their field? How many times have you read the words, “we provide an outstanding service”, “we’ll help drive your business forward”, “we’re passionate about blah blah blah…”? Do you find this sort of blurb convincing? Do these statements connect with you on any level? My guess is no.

As a potential customer, when I see companies’ websites describing themselves in identikit language, I can’t help but wonder: if they haven’t put much thought into their most important piece of copy, then what else have they glossed over?

It might seem counterintuitive to drop those trusted, professional expressions, but the more sparingly they’re used, the more confident and convincing a piece of writing will sound. Sadly, those words have been used to death — they’ve become meaningless.

The way to produce more convincing copy is to write how you’d talk. If you were at a party and someone asked you what your company does, it’s unlikely you’d say: “We’re established leaders in the pet food industry with over 200 years’ experience between us. It’s our mission to produce top-of-the-range products that give unbeatable value.” When talking face to face with an individual, you’re likely to choose words that are a bit more down to earth.

Perhaps the word “market” is part of the problem — ie, knowing your market. If “_____ market” was a question on Blankety Blank, the first words to come into my head would be mass, super or cattle. If I subconsciously think of my customers as a herd, I’m unlikely to connect with them on a personal level. If I think of them as an audience made up of individuals like me, then I start to see things — and write things — differently. When you’re a member of an audience, you need to feel a connection with the artist on stage — you expect it.

Good comedians have their audiences in stitches because they’re brave enough to say out loud what everyone’s thinking, or what everyone has no doubt experienced at some point. They bring everyday life out in the open — and it’s refreshingly human. Musicians, films and plays connect with their audiences on an emotional level, too. Ultimately, you feel something because of what someone was brave enough to write.

And bravery plays a huge role in writing. To say something that’s different to everyone else takes courage. But if you want to stand out from the crowd, words with a flavoursome kick can have a powerful effect.

By Tasha Harrison, copywriter at Harrison Agency.

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