September 8, 2023
Keeping it Friendly
A long time ago in an ad agency far, far away, I was given a piece of writing advice that has followed me lo these many years. Simply, when you write, write like you’re talking to a friend. Back then, I initially thought, okay, so my writing may have more than its fair share of “y’knows” and “likes.” Well, I soon disciplined myself to avoid that trap of my speech making its way into my writing. The more I wrote like talking to a friend, the clearer it became.
When you write conversationally, like you’re talking to a friend, you can do a better job at persuading or selling. Real estate buyers and sellers don’t want to be lectured to or feel as if the hard sell is on. They don’t want to be bored to death either – even the slightest hint of that and they’d stop reading. They want a voice that’s smart and informed but friendly and believable, too. And who’s more believable than your friend?
Back to that agency a long time ago. I remember many ads I wrote copy for were long form. In other words, the only one who would ever read the entire copy block was probably your mom, thrilled that her son or daughter was writing copy for a famous product.
Today, long copy ads have gone the way of the beeper and fax machine, but there’s still plenty of opportunity to write persuasive copy on a friendly level in everything from a blog or even an email. Heck, this even applies to tweeting and other social media.
The last thing you want is for someone not to like what you’re selling – or worse, you – because they don’t like the way it was presented to them. Copy lengths may have changed but the rule remains the same. Keep it conversational. Keep It friendly. Keep it brief.
Fast forward to today, and I’ve taken this lesson with me. What I do is like what real estate agents do. Sell in a voice the customer wants to hear — an honest and familiar voice. I do it through written words rather than through words spoken. But whether you’re talking or writing you ultimately want to earn their trust. Earn that and the rest becomes easier.
(BTW, if you’re writing for a certain region of the country, you may want to inject a little local jargon into the writing. I did write for British Airways in my past and though tempted to add a “luv” or “bloke” into the copy, I refrained. I did have to spell favorite, “favourite.”)