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Don’t insist on your copy being too formal


Formal words

As a copywriter, I really hate it when a client wants their copy to be formal. There’s nothing wrong with copy being formal –it’s peoples’ perceptions of what formal is that’s usually wrong. What they call formal, I call boring.

Copy like this will hold very little appeal to consumers. It’ll be stodgy and dull. And it probably won’t get read.

Great copy captures the essence of your brand and offers readers a connection. It should grab their attention, appeal to their dreams, and tell them what you can do for them. Formal copy doesn’t usually do this.

It’s all about tone. You can be playful, quirky and edgy but still be professional. Your target market will love you because you’re different. Disrupt the market. Make people talk about you. Many industries are dominated by companies that rejoice in having woolly websites, tedious tweets and bland brochures. If yours sticks out, you’ll be noticed.

Remember people read your website, not robots. Emotional beings who’ll make an instant decision whether or not to read on and buy from you. Instead of being formal and telling them all about your business in a way that’s not very interesting, try writing it from your readers’ point of view. Make them feel special for choosing you or that they’re in your club. Research how they speak and what phrases they use. Know your market and what they like. Appeal to them.

The key is balancing the professional with your personality. Be friendly but not their friend. Be informative but not patronising. Be edgy but not offensive. You need to communicate what you do but find the right style to suit.

That’s why you shouldn’t insist on your copy being too formal.

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Nick Pagan