I often talk about the importance of writing conversationally. Like people talk, as David Ogilvy once said.
When your marketing content sounds like how you talk in an actual conversation – not how everyone talks, but how you talk – it comes across more authentic, believable and trustworthy. It helps knock down barriers to the sale.
Nobody wants to read content that sounds more like a user manual, textbook or press release than a conversation.
Big words, complex sentences and a stiff, grammar-obsessed tone that don’t even come close to how you would talk in a conversation will make your content sound phony or confusing. And you could end up giving the impression that you’re trying too hard to prove how knowledgeable you are about a certain subject.
Obviously, content isn’t conversational if you don’t use relatable, everyday language. Words are important. But there’s another critical factor that will determine the success or failure of conversational content.
Are you trying to help people? Are you trying to educate, engage and inspire? Are you trying to make a connection with the reader?
Or are you trying to sell stuff?
If your intent is to sell stuff, that intent will show up in your marketing content. It can easily turn off readers, even if you use conversational language and a natural tone to cover up your real intent.
Actually, I’d say the only thing worse than an obvious, slap-in-the-face-with-a-shovel sales pitch is a sneaky sales pitch. At least with an overt sales pitch, you know what you’re getting.
How would you feel if you found out that the content you thought was intended to help you was really just a cover for a sales pitch?
Sounds underhanded. Deceptive. Dishonest. Slimy.
That’s pretty much the opposite of what conversational content should make people think and feel about your business.
Too many business owners and marketers just can’t help themselves. They think their content is fluff unless it includes information about a product, service or offer, or their company’s qualifications.
Content that helps, educates, engages and inspires people isn’t fluff. Wouldn’t you say these are all important if not essential parts of the sales process?
With the exception of direct response marketing, content shouldn’t focus on persuading people to take a specific action right away. That doesn’t mean they won’t, but immediate action isn’t the primary goal of conversational content.
I always recommend writing conversationally because it shows you’re being real. You’re not putting on a show. You’re sharing your knowledge and expertise in an unselfish way. Conversational content should be a preview of what it would be like to sit across the table from you.
Do you think sneaking a sales pitch in there will help you land a new client on the spot?
If you consistently deliver value in your marketing content, people will look forward to what you have to say next time. Once you’ve earned their trust and confidence and established your expertise, they’ll hire you and refer you.
But they won’t come back if they think you just want to sell them something, especially if you’re sneaky about it.
Using conversational content doesn’t mean you can’t talk about your company, products or services, although you should keep it to a minimum. If you’re going to talk about yourself, make sure it ties directly to the core message of your content and provides real value to the reader.
Otherwise, it’s just self-serving or a sales pitch. Probably both.
Using conversational content also doesn’t mean you can’t have a call-to-action. But you shouldn’t transition from a helpful message to an urgent sales pitch.
Instead of telling people what to do, focus on explaining why they should take that action. Focus on helping, educating, engaging and inspiring. People are much more likely to act when you try to help them, not sell to them.
Remember, if your approach to marketing content is conversational and helpful, but the underlying intent is to convince people to buy something, there’s a good chance your content will backfire.
Write conversationally and, just as importantly, write with the right intentions.
I’m a copywriter, marketing consultant, lifelong New Jersey resident, husband to a beautiful wife and father to two beautiful girls. I love playing with my daughters, a day at the boardwalk, sarcasm, craft beer and grilling. I despise beating around the bush, synchronized swimming, Toddlers & Tiaras and onions. Most people don’t know I used to be a radio DJ and once wrote, produced and voiced a commercial for the TV show 24. Two places I want to visit before I die are Ireland and Norway, the homes of my ancestors. One place I never want to revisit is my first apartment because my creepy landlord, Monty, freaked me out. That just about covers it.