Getting the tone of voice right is a huge part of copywriting. Just like you wouldn’t talk to your lawyer in the way you might talk to your mother, and you wouldn’t talk to your best friend in the way you’d talk to your doctor, you’ll find there are certain ways you want to talk to your prospective customers.
But does that mean that if your customers are from a ‘professional’ industry, you shouldn’t show personality?
I always argue that copywriting is a conversation – one-sided, sure, but still a conversation. It’s how you convince people that they want to do business with you. Who wants to do business with a sales-talking robot?
When copywriting is extremely formal, the human factor vanishes. The message becomes nothing more than words on a page. The key is to balance what prospective customers expect and want to hear with a style that’s right for the business.
Would you want to do business with a company that doesn’t seem friendly?
Of course not. Even if it’s something like a lawyer or medical specialist, you still want them to come across as approachable. You’re probably trusting them with some massive decisions, some of your deepest darkest secrets, and your future probably hinges on their work. Plus you’re almost certainly going to be giving them a ton of money.
So you’re going to want to feel that you can be comfortable with them.
This is doubly so when it’s a small business. Big, established businesses can often get away with showing less personality (though it doesn’t mean they should!), simply because enough people will buy based on the name and reputation. Think big law or accountancy firms.
But that doesn’t always happen with small businesses. When it’s one or two people fronting it, the copy has to show that they’re approachable – because there are plenty of other places clients can go.
So how do you find the balance?
It’s not as hard as you think. Just think about what you’d say to them in person. Consider a job interview – you want to answer the questions professionally, but you also want the interviewer to get a sense of who you are, and remember you for the right reasons.
You don’t have to try that hard. Just keep it simple, keep it brief. Don’t be afraid to use contractions [link]. Sometimes it helps to record what you might want to say and transcribe it. You’ll find the flow and rhythm is much better – overly formal copy often reads as being jerky and stilted.
Be sincere, be authentic – and remember that people, no matter who they are or what they do, buy from other people.