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Are you using the Right Words?

She was in the middle of the aisle at the craft store. Not sorta to one side or the other, but in the middle. She wasn’t looking. The urge to play chicken was coming on strong.

I was about to push off when she looked up and said, “Oh, I’m so sorry. Let me move my buggy.”

My push off halted. I behaved a little better. “No problem. Thanks. You’re not from here; are you?”

“Well, I’ve been in Kansas since the ‘70s,” she said looking puzzled.

I smiled. “Really, and you say ‘buggy’?”

She laughed, “Well, okay, that came with me from Kentucky.”

I knew what she meant. I’ve been outside of Kansas, but I grew up with carts, shopping carts, and her language was just a little different.

Let’s try another one.

Travel back to your English class in high school. It’s time to read aloud. (I can hear the groans.) As a teacher, I looked for volunteers. The girl I chose was normally a strong, fast reader. Her plan was to make quick work of the story.

She took off. Within two sentences she was having to slow down. The words weren’t strange or unusual, but she was struggling. The words weren’t in the right order. The author, Alice Munro, is Canadian. She writes in English, but that doesn’t mean her syntax is the same as a teenager’s in rural Colorado.

Why do you care about these things in your copy? Well, it’s simple. With your words, you’re trying to build a relationship with your client’s prospects. They’ll notice if you “sound” funny.

There’s a difference in the syntax and meaning between, “Please take a seat” and “Take a seat, please.” If your audience begins to suspect you’re not who you say you are, you’ll lose their trust.

Successful copy needs to reflect the language of the audience reading it. As always, you’re trying to build a relationship where your client’s prospects know, like, and trust you.

Here are 4 elements to keep in mind:

· How you say things

· The words you use

· The order of your words

· Authenticity

Learn the language of your prospects. Remember the craft store from earlier. While I was roaming the aisles, I ran across a frustrated young man looking for “string.” Did he want thread, embroidery floss, yarn, plastic lanyard, twine, or something else?

Will prospects let you use the wrong words? Or will they click to another site that uses specific terminology?

Check your word order, read what you’ve written aloud. If you start to trip over words, something’s wrong. When people look for answers, they like to find them quickly. If your copy makes the answer hard to understand, they’ll click away.

Finally, be authentic. Make the effort to learn about the product or service you’re writing about. When possible, ask for a sample of the product. Try it out. Look at reviews. Watch videos. Read forums. Ask people.

If you know the product well, it will be easier to know, like, and trust your copy.

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2 commentaires

Eli J. Pacheco
Eli J. Pacheco
16 août 2022

I love this. I remember an action movie in which the hero was tipped off that an ally was an imposter because he called the elevator the "lift." People notice the words and the word order. I'm going to share this post on my company's intranet.

18 août 2022
En réponse à

Beautiful example. The words are not wrong, just different. If you use them for a specific purpose, that's great. Just be alert to the language you use.

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