One of the things most frequently said about copywriting is that you should “write like a real people speak.” More plainly, you should write in a conversational tone – like you are chatting with someone, or writing an email to a friend.
That means there are grammatical rules that should go out the window to make your copy read and perform better. (Isn’t that great).
Some of the no-nos from your high school English class that work particularly well when writing copy include:
- Slang – You should be writing for a specific audience, and if you’ve done your homework, using slang that’s the commonly used jargon of your target market, nothing will create a bond faster than speaking the same language. But, if you don’t have a clear understanding of your target market’s slang, don’t do this.
- Sentence fragments – Choppy, Fragmented sentences work in a couple of ways. First, they allow your reader to subconsciously fill in the blanks so you can direct their thoughts toward specific topics, making them feel like they thought of the answer themselves. They also compartmentalize complete thoughts in easily digestible bites of text. When we learn the language in school, it’s commonly held that incomplete sentences equate to incomplete thoughts. That isn’t necessarily so. For instance, bullet points are sentence fragments and a gift to copywriters. Nothing will get your point across better than a series of benefits in an easily scannable list of bullet points.
- Contractions – When you’re writing like you speak, these are a must. They help a reader scan text without any speed bumps. It’s much quicker and friendlier to read this sentence because it doesn’t say “it is a lot quicker and friendlier to read this sentence”.
- Colloquialisms – Otherwise the “lingo” you hear every day in unstructured situations. Lingo is a language that doesn’t appear in any dictionary. Lingo puts personality into your writing and explains things to readers who may not understand more formal alternatives.
- One word sentences – Bang! Now! One word sentences, your English teacher probably taught you, are childish. But, they can convey excitement, strong emphatic meanings or calls to action.
- Avoid starting sentences with conjunctions – But it just works. Did you ever notice how text flows better when you decide how it should appear? So long as it makes sense, there’s nothing to stop you from starting your sentences with And, But, or Because.
- One final thing – You can and should ignore many of the rules of punctuation. Avoid too frequent use of commas, they slow down your sentences. Short sentences, with periods, speed sentences up. Similarly, use other punctuation sparingly. This is one instance where less is definitely more.
Grammar is a tool to help get your meaning across. If you use it in the right way, according to what makes sense for your reader, you’ve done some truly persuasive writing.