Copywriting marketing materials? The challenge is to ensure prospects are informed, not befuddled. An expert marketing copywriter gives tips on speaking their language.
Fans of Steve Martin might remember his plumber joke, supposedly told for the benefit of all the plumbers in the audience. It’s actually a joke about the disaster of using language that people won’t understand.
“This lawn supervisor was out on a sprinkler maintenance job, and he started working on a Findlay sprinkler head with a Langstrom seven-inch gangly wrench. Just then this little apprentice leaned over and said, ‘You can’t work on a Findlay sprinkler head with a Langstrom seven-inch wrench.’ Well, this infuriated the supervisor, so he went and got Volume 14 of the Kinsley manual, and he reads to him and says, ‘The Langstrom seven-inch wrench can be used with the Findlay sprocket.’ Just then the little apprentice leaned over and says, ‘It says sprocket, not socket!’”
“Were these plumbers supposed to be here this show?”
Hitting the mark with marketing materials
When you are putting together materials to market your company, think about the audience you are reaching out to. When you talk about “plants,” will they assume you mean botanical or manufacturing? When you mention the AIA, will they know which AIA you mean? There is an American Institue of Architects, an Aerospace Industries Association, and other groups going by the same initials.
If your target audience is new to your product or service, help them get on board. They won’t be impressed if you dive right in with details about Langstrom wrenches and Findlay sprockets. They’ll be baffled, and they’ll go looking for some other company that they can understand.
On the other hand, your target audience may know more about Findlay sprockets than you do. In that case, they’ll appreciate you using their language. If you oversimplify your pitch, they might think you don’t respect their expertise.
Marketing copywriter’s reality check
There’s no standard formula for finding the middle ground between talking down to your audience and talking over their heads. But there’s one good test to see whether you’ve hit the mark: Ask them. Show a rough draft to a few people in your target market and ask them what they think.
Have you tested your marketing materials with someone in your target audience? Are there times when you need separate materials for the newbies and the veterans in your audience? Please comment.
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