Writing for humans

Whenever I watch old episodes of The Good Life, I smile at Margo’s grim determination to climb the social ladder — and I breathe a huge sigh of relief that women are no longer expected to host elaborate dinner parties to boost their husbands’ careers. If they were, my family would be destitute as charred pizza and under-heated garlic bread are about the best I can do.

The “deformalisation” of the workplace, or the start of it at least, can possibly be traced back to the advent of email. That’s when we stopped relying on secretaries with their second-to-none grammar and business etiquette skills, and “Dear Sir” quickly became “Hi”. It still took a while to get to where we are now though — even a few years ago, I was being asked if I had business-to-business or B2B skills; whether I had experience of writing copy for consumers. Now, people ask, “Who do you work for?” and, “What kind of stuff do you write?”

At last, we have stopped pigeon-holing our customers and started treating them all as people — individuals — and I say, “Hooray!”

Of course, this means that we have to work even harder to profile the people we’re writing for. It’s not enough anymore to put your B2B hat on and get writing; you need to be able to visualise that person, feel their pain, understand what motivates them and what ticks them off too. But when you get writing, your piece will make so much more impact than if you’d written for a faceless person in a suit.

Just remember not to go too far the other way — one well-known broadband provider took to chatting with its customers as if they were teenagers on Twitter, using words like, “cool”, “dude”and “wow”. I would name and shame them but they’ve rather sensibly taken down their old tweets and adopted a far more appropriate tone.

And that’s the main point, really. Our customers want to be treated like real people, but not bessie mates… ’K? If your communications need a more human touch, we can help. Give us a call on 01628 622187.

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