Good communication is all about conversations.
Conversations are key to building relationships – of all kinds
You wouldn’t marry someone you’d got no relationship with.
First, we need to attract that person and agree to go out on a date…
In business terms that means building a relationship with our existing clients and customers, and potential clients and customers.
We know it’s so much easier to connect with our customers when we’re chatting with them. So the goal is to initiate that conversation, so we can begin to build that relationship.
The thing is, we need to have caught the attention of that customer somehow in the first place, to start that conversation.
In dating, you might rely on that fabulous red top that fits just right to attract attention. Mix it with your winning smile and your potential date might walk on over…
Then you can start a conversation.
For a business owner that conversation could be:
- Having conversations with potential customers about a product
- Having a conversation about a shared interest, to build that relationship
- Having a friendly conversation about the weather (especially the SNOW) to break the ice
(you see what I did there – tee hee)
In business, we rely a lot on writing (or copy) to attract clients
Whether that’s website copy, social media posts, blogs, headlines, or about me pages… the list goes on.
When you’re writing, it feels harder to keep it conversational.
In person, it’s easy to gauge someone’s level of understanding and interest. And of course, by listening to them you can pick up on the words they use, and use them back, so you connect on the same level.
If you sense people aren’t getting what you’re saying, you can ask questions and keep adapting your message until you see that they understand.
In copywriting you need to have thought about all that first.
Your message needs to be understood the first time, and it needs to engage your target audience enough to want to start a conversation with you.
It’s easy to see why video is taking priority on social media – because video is naturally more conversational, and therefore engaging,
The thing is, we still need to use words. Written words.
But how do we keep them conversational and engaging versus complicated and confusing?
How to keep writing conversational
Years of conditioning whether from school or the corporate world have taught us to write (and often speak) in a really complicated way. Using long words, passive tense, and very formal language.
The problem is, it sounds stuffy, unengaging and inaccessible.
I’ve been in countless meetings in the corporate world where people (project managers in particular) would try to baffle you with specialist words and long sentences.
It was often my job to translate corporate language into English that people could understand quickly.
“The organisation will issue the appropriate correspondence in line with the customer onboarding process, dependent on the relative risk and status of each individual”
“We’ll send you a letter once your application is approved.”
The complicated language is hard to understand quickly, and more likely to confuse customers.
What you want to avoid are those sentences you find yourself reading three times, and then out-loud, REALLY SLOWLY, to make sense of them.
Anyone who has done a VAT return, or looked at the “help” on the HMRC website (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs – aka the Tax Office, for those unfamiliar) will know what I mean!
Guess how many times I’ve read a sentence by HMRC over and over again until I understood what they were trying to say?
Why not just make it simple?
It would save so much time, money and lost energy.
HMRC would free thousands of hours in time, and Millions of pounds in call centre costs if they could just communicate a little more simply and clearly on their website.
As a business owner or entrepreneur keep this little gem front of mind, each time you go to write any form of communication – whether an email, marketing content or web copy.
A clear and simple message wins every time.
5 Quick Tips to keep copy conversational
1) Write as you speak
– you know, as if you’re having a conversation!
It takes a bit of practice but soon you’ll find it comes naturally.
The best thing is to have copy that sounds like you, authentic, no BS, you!
That way you can build a genuine relationship, and when it comes to having a real-life conversation with your customer, you’ll still sound like you.
A consistent message keeps things clear and simple for your customer.
2) Read it out loud
Start reading what you’ve written aloud. You’ll soon know which bits flow and which bits sound awkward. If you start to trip over the words, edit them.
3) Use Contractions
– as if YOU’RE having a conversation! We’ll like that much more than “we will” and “you are”
When writing we have a habit of defaulting to the formal. When you edit, check you’re using contractions.
“If there is anything you do not understand, get in touch and I will answer any questions”
“If there’s anything you don’t understand, get in touch and I’ll answer your questions”
Much friendlier. And it helps you add a little personality.
4) Know your audience & use words your audience use
Ok, this is two tips in one. Double the value for you!
First, use normal words, not formal words. Second, use the words your audience use.
To do this you need to know your audience.
Using language your audience is familiar with means they’ll get what you’re talking about.
No point overcomplicating matters trying to make yourself sound clever. It won’t.
You’ll resonate so much more with your audience if you’re speaking their language.
Picture who you are writing the message to. Keep this person in mind when writing all your content for a consistent message. If you’re trying to appeal to everyone your message will connect with no-one.
So have a real think about who your ideal customer is, and always write to them.
I explain this in more detail in this blog post I share a simple visualisation trick using Hats, Shoes and Ear Muffs to help you create better messages.
5) Don’t be afraid to use short sentences
In conversation, we naturally punctuate and pause, to add emphasis.
We don’t take a long, deep breath and then keep speaking until it runs out with no regard for the listener.
We stop. We start again.
It helps keep it interesting, and importantly, easier to read.
Be honest with yourself, is your communication clear and simple?
Do people understand your message at first glance?
Is your website copy clear?
Are your marketing messages really speaking to your ideal clients?
Or are they a little confusing or complicated?
If you’re not sure, I offer a brand review and refresh service to immediately improve your communication to attract more customers. I’d love to chat with you about it.
And if you need help creating clear messaging, I can help you too!
It can be hard to know how to talk about your business in a clear and simple way. And that’s exactly what you need to do to cut through the noise and be heard.
To attract that first date, and then get a second date… and before you know it:
I can help you do that. (Not the dating part, the clear and simple communication part!)
If you’d like to get noticed by more ideal customers and build a relationship (through communication and conversation) that turns them into loyal customers – get in touch.
This National Conversation Week, why not treat yourself to a bit of support 😊
I’m Lucy Griffin-Stiff, The Communications Expert for Business Owners and Entrepreneurs who want to become the OBVIOUS CHOICE to their ideal clients.
If you’re great at what you do, but a bit rubbish at talking about it, I help you find the words, messages and hidden stories that make you the obvious choice to your ideal clients. Giving you the clarity to market your business with confidence.