As a copywriter I’m usually briefed on projects targeted at a very specific audience. Over the years I’ve learned more than I care to recall about facilities managers, heating and ventilation engineers, forklift truck drivers, yummy mummies and high net worth individuals.
Many times, clients are keen to ensure that my writing style is tailored to appeal to that particular audience. But what exactly do they mean by that?
Often it means making sure I include ‘industry speak’, acronyms, ‘public sector speak’ (‘sub-region’ is a favourite here) and terms that are commonplace in their workplace but not in the wider world. In other words, writing for the client, not the reader.
But every target audience has one thing in common: they are people.
At the end of the day, whether they’re a financial adviser or a social worker, a high flying executive or a bus driver, they all speak the same basic language. And when they’re not at work reading stuff they have to read, they go home and read stuff that interests them.
Stuff they don’t have to work too hard to understand; stuff that gets the message across quickly and with as little fuss as possible; stuff that means something to them.
So isn’t it better to ensure that people want to read what you’re trying to tell them, rather than have to work to read it?
Do they want to know that their company is ‘rationalising the overhead expenditure to achieve better synergy between the brand and its core target’? Or are they more likely to respond to a message that tells them that the company is ‘spending money wisely to make sure we give our customers what they want’?
It doesn’t matter whether they drive a truck or drive the business strategy, people don’t want to have to consult a dictionary when they’re reading. So a good copywriter will cut them some slack.
Fewer TLAs (three letter acronyms), less technical language. Even though they probably understand it, they will prefer to read about a ‘tap’ than a ‘water delivery system’. Shorter words, less showing off (save that for The Times crossword).
So if you want it to be read (and why wouldn’t you), it’s easy – make it readable.