First, a definition of conversational copywriting.
To me, it means writing in the same way you would speak persuasively to a friend over the kitchen table.
Imagine you’re trying to persuade a friend to go hiking with you at the weekend. You’re in conversation, but you’re trying to be persuasive as well.
Because it’s within the context of a real dialog between two people, your language is natural and conversational. Emotional at times.
Your argument in favor of hiking isn’t carefully structured in the way a professional copywriter might put it together. No clever tips or tricks are used. No killer closing is deployed to “close the deal”.
Most important of all, unless you’re one of those really, really annoying friends, this will be a real conversation. You won’t just speak “at” your friend until you beat him into submission. You’ll ask questions. You’ll pause and allow him to say his piece too. There’ll be some back and forth.
You can do much the same in the world of online commerce
There are two sets of tools you can use when you choose to write more conversationally.
The first set is technological. It used to be that advertising and marketing went one way only. Companies broadcast their promotional messages through TV commercials, radio spots, print ads and so on.
Today we have the web, social media and mobile apps. This means communications can be two-way. For example, a business can choose to reply to comments on its Facebook page.
When a company does that – when it replies, whatever the channel – it is entering into conversation.
In this way technology is actually forcing companies to accept that the days of one-way, broadcast communications are behind us.
Ready or not, marketing today is about conversations with your prospects and customers.
The second set of tools is all about how you write.
Conversational copywriting should look and sound different from traditional, one-way, in-your-face copywriting.
It should feel less structured and be more natural. It should fit into a conversation over the kitchen table.
Here’s a quick before and after example.
Old-school copywriting to pitch a family resort:
The Oka Beach Family Resort’s all inclusive family vacations give you a top family vacation with your kids and time to reconnect as a couple, too.
Ouch… I don’t think real people ever talk in sentences that long. So let’s rewrite it in a more natural, over-the-table way:
A family vacation should be fun for everyone, right? That’s why we created a resort experience that’s all about the kids… AND all about mom and dad too.
Not a big deal. Just shortening the sentences, adding a question and simplifying the message. Suddenly the language feels a whole lot more natural.
Get the language right, and use conversational platforms like social media… and a business really can enter into genuine conversations with its prospects and customers.
Get it right, without faking it.
Watch some late-night TV and you’ll see a few commercials where the “talent” is talking to camera and pretending he’s your friend. Except, of course, he isn’t. He’s pretending to be having a conversation with you, but he isn’t.
Or read through some direct mail.
You’ll doubtless find some breathless writing all about how, “If you’re like me…” Add in some other cunning tips and tricks to make the reader feel she’s in the company of a friend and you get a some good “fake conversational copywriting”.
But none of it is real. Before the days of the web it was easier to pass fake conversational copy as being the real thing. But in today’s world of social media we know what real conversations with companies actually feel like.
Suddenly the fake, old-school, overly-copywritten approach to being “conversational” feels out of place and a little sad.
Bottom line… Conversational copywriting is about being real. It’s writing in a way that is less about “writing at” an audience – and is more authentic, as if you were talking with that friend across the table.
NOTE: I have an entire course devoted to the craft of Conversational Copywriting. Find out more about it here…
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