Sunday, 2 December 2018

Are your communications creating a barrier between you and your target audience?

This may seem a ridiculous question, but it’s a mistake businesses make every day.

They create communications that alienate and disengage their audience — and they don’t even know they’re doing it.

Here are three common examples of things businesses do in their communications that they really need to stop.

1. Using unfamiliar jargon and acronyms

Imagine trying to read something and constantly having to break off to look up terms and acronyms you’ve never heard of before.

Then, trying to determine the context and meaning of those words and acronyms as they were meant in the text you were reading.

Does that sound like fun?

Didn't think so.

But this is what your reader has to do when you use industry jargon and unexplained acronyms in your copy.

What makes perfect sense to you doesn't necessarily make sense to someone who has never been around those terms before.

Think of it this way: Every time you cause your readers to break away from reading your copy, you risk losing them altogether.

Avoid using jargon wherever possible and explain your points in layman's terms, so the average person can understand them.

If you have to use industry terms, make sure you explain them the first time you use them, so your reader comes to understand what they mean.

2. Using highfalutin language

Everyone wants their business to sound professional.

But if you think that means you have to use big words and fancy language, you're wrong.

When businesses use highfalutin language, at least one of these things usually happens:

  • They sound pompous and pretentious
  • They make errors because they don't understand the meaning of the words they’re using — or how to use them correctly
  • They end up alienating their readers
According to the speaker at a seminar I recently attended, the average reading age in the UK is 9. This is the age tabloid newspapers, like The Sun, are writing for.

The average age of a broadsheet newspaper reader is just 14.

It’s worth remembering this when you’re writing your copy.

Communicating professionally is about more than just the words and language you use. It’s about knowing and understanding your audience and using language that is appropriate for them.

3. Using language that doesn’t align with your brand

In today’s competitive market, a strong brand can set your business apart from its competitors.

Customers buy into brands where they feel an attachment. For example, if the brand’s core values align with their own.

A strong brand is made up of six main components:
  1. A clear target market
  2. Its reason for being
  3. Its values and culture
  4. Its personality
  5. Its promise to its customers
  6. Its voice and the way it communicates
All of these elements must be aligned and working harmoniously together — including your copy.

If you run a high end restaurant, but sound like a back street café, your customers will find that difficult to buy into.

If you run a pound shop and constantly talk about ‘quality’ and ‘excellence’, you’re also going to be way off the mark.

Think about your product/service and your market when you write. Use appropriate language that embodies your brand and helps your customers find an affinity.

Do you need some help to avoid these mistakes?

If you’re struggling to write copy that connects with your audience, the chances are you’re too close to it. You need someone who can look at it objectively and tell you where you’re going wrong.

This is where I can help.

If you need someone to make sense of all the jargon and present it in a more user-friendly way — I can do that.

If you need someone to make your brand sound more professional, without alienating your audience — I can do that.

If you need someone to establish a tone of voice that aligns with the rest of your brand — I can do that too.

My name is Jenny Lucas. I’m a freelance copywriter, content writer and copy editor based in Leicester, UK. 

I specialise in writing clear, benefits focused copy that speaks to your audience using language they can understand.

To find out more about how I could help you improve your business communications, please visit my website.

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