I H8 when PPL use TXT MSG abbreviations LOL…
(Seriously. I use proper grammar and punctuation in nearly all my texts.)
And dude, yer slang is killin’ me…
But let’s keep it real…
This is how people talk.
And especially, this is how they write online.
Yes, in “millennial” markets. But more and more, across the board.
Including, in many cases, the PWMs… Aka., the “players with money.” It’s not just the school crowd anymore.
Which means you have to get hip to the jive, too — without sounding old.
Yes, clear, simple communication can cross borders when it comes to simply getting your message across.
But if you want to CONNECT, you probably need to talk like your market talks. At least enough that you feel like an insider, not an outsider.
This has ALWAYS been a rule of copywriting…
Speak to your audience in their language.
Use informal, conversational copy.
Think of your marketing messages LESS like academic explanations, formal presentations, or official communications — and MORE like one friend talking to another, sitting next to each other at the bar.
It’s just that the conversation has moved from the barstool to social media and text messaging.
Your marketing has to connect to convert.
And that means you — at the very least — need to NOT sound out of place. And even better, you want your copy to read like “native” content, wherever they are.
Which means a Facebook ad is going to feel different than an advertorial they click to from a news site. And both will feel different than a direct mail pitch. A Facebook ad should read like a personal Facebook post. An advertorial linked from a news site should read like news. And direct mail should probably read like whatever format it most looks like (letter = letter, magalog = magazine, etc.).
But in general, everyone is consuming media full of and thus creating their own communication full of “looser” language.
Your crotchety grammar teacher be damned.
Prescriptive versus Descriptive Grammatology — and why it matters…
I can think of at least one copywriter — whose name I won’t mention — who regularly complains on Facebook and elsewhere about the fast erosion of people’s grammar (especially copywriters and marketers!)…
And get out of his disgruntled path when someone drops an F-Bomb!
(Which I’m not above — but once upon a time my Dad told me he saves those for when he really means it, and I tend to follow the same strategy.)
He’s a prescriptive grammarian, and he will NEVER be happy.
I remember a speech that was either by Bill Bonner or Mark Ford. (I think Bill, but forgive me if I’m wrong Mark.)
He dove into “Prescriptive” versus “Descriptive” grammar in copy.
Prescriptive sounds like prescription, and that’s what it is. It’s your middle-school English teacher telling you how to write and speak correctly. There’s a right way to use language, and therefore everything else is wrong and should be corrected.
Descriptive simply tries to describe how things are done, without assigning a specific practice. And generally, the only recommendation is to try to communicate in language that will be understood, based on the description of how others use language.
Prescriptive is inherently conservative (as a concept, not political) and change-averse, and descriptive tends to be liberal (again, concept, not politics) and change-friendly.
Prescriptive tries to force the world to be a certain way. Descriptive tries to embrace the world as it is.
Where to aim your style…
There’s nothing inherently wrong with trying to write in a style that’s near the top of your market. Clarity is your ultimate goal, of course. And putting out selling messages that are pretty good on the grammar front, but that are conversational enough to not feel elitist is a smart path to take.
Don’t aim above your market though. If you insist on perfect diction and your market ain’t ‘bout that, you fail.
And I don’t really like going too low, especially if it requires you to adopt a style that doesn’t feel natural — because that will bleed through.
In general, find YOUR conversational voice. Find YOUR personality. (Or, if you’re writing for clients, find theirs.)
And try to get over all your hangups about trying to sound too good or too polished, and just let loose.
(This is actually 100% in line with how you develop a compelling character, in line with my Story Selling Masterclass. One of the most compelling aspects of any character is how they speak, and this is a CRITICAL detail in your selling character, too.)
A perfect example…
An online friend of mine, Liam Donnely, runs Facebook advertising for clients.
He posted a comment on one of his ads in his Facebook Group, Facebook COPY & PASTE…
[FACEBOOK USER]: … Because not all of your audience is a teenager. Generally grownups don’t respond to “Yo”
Liam: [NAME] very good point. But what I have found over the years is that the type of “grownups” that dislike me using the words “yo” and other jargon generally are the clients that create the most headaches for me and my team… simply because I am still just a big kid at heart!
So the use of the world “yo” in this ad is a very purposeful attempt to turn away any potential prospect that I know wouldn’t be a good fit for my services.
I hope that helps explain the psychology behind my actions here 😉
[ANOTHER USER]: [NAME] Basically he doesn’t want your money and to bogger off lol
There’s actually SO MUCH right about this little interaction. Liam is making very specific choices about who he wants to work with (his ideal market) and who he doesn’t want to. And yo — by choosing a specific type of conversational copy, he’s drawing his line in the sand.
Everything else remains the same…
Using big ideas, nailing the underlying sales structure, how you provide value up front, the market awareness model and maximizing lifetime value, proving your promises and being believable, and all the core principles and strategies are all still relevant.
But the superficial, tactical use of language and grammar are shifting — especially online — especially in social platforms.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,