Are you writing copy as if your client is an “other?”

Happy 2019, Big Visionaries!

With the start of the New Year, many of you might be ramping up your efforts to reach new audiences. You’re making your best guess about what tone to use in your e-newsletters, website copy, blog posts, and social media copy.

I want you to have lots of success this year, so here’s something I’ve been seeing people do lately that I’d love for you to avoid — turning your ideal audience into an “other.”

For example, some of my clients who are doing work that might be considered “alternative” want to bring it into a more conventional setting like a corporation. Because they may have never worked in a big business before, they have assumptions about what the people who work there are like — boring, dry, emotionless — and they write their copy to match this assumption.

Here’s the deal. No one wants to read copy that is written as if a robot will be reading it. No one. I mean, wouldn’t anyone enjoy reading something like an appliance manual more if it was written like a human talking with another human? “How psyched are you to have a new dishwasher? Don’t be freaked out by all the lights and buttons. It’s really simple to use. Promise!” I’m not saying that you don’t need to express why your work is beneficial in a clear way, but it also needs to be written as if a human wrote it for another human.

What I usually recommend is that you think of at least one person who represents your ideal client and write for them. Be specific. If we go back to the example of pitching a corporation, think about who would be making the decision to hire you. What position do they hold? Would they be in Marketing? HR? Sales? Creative? Write to their particular needs, not to a stereotype.

It’s also important to think of an ideal client who you like. This is another type of “othering” I see. If you feel like your ideal audience is so different than you, when you write copy for them, they may sense that you just don’t get them.

So, when you choose that person to represent your ideal audience, choose someone who you like. Put a photo of them near your computer to remind you to write in a way that speaks to them specifically, not to a generic version of them. When you write to your potential clients in a way that shows that you care, respect, and understand them, they will feel it, and maybe want to get to know a little more about you and your work.


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One thought on “Are you writing copy as if your client is an “other?”

  1. Thomas Aageson says:

    Good ideas here. Always think of the beneficiary as you suggest and how they will be better off with your product and/or service. As for corporations, 1. investigate if they have a position open; 2. befriend some in HR or the department that interests you.

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