The (not so) secret language of your words

Is your copy (not so) secretly switching your prospects off?

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been perusing property listings online. These listings (like most product descriptions) have to describe the features of the home with some degree of accuracy. But they also try to enchant the prospective buyer. So there’s this balancing act, between creative writing and honest detailing. And the result is some pretty funny code language – “real estate speak”, if you will.

Decoding the ‘agent speak’

A home that’s described as ‘compact’ or ‘cosy’, is actually small. One that’s labelled as ‘charming’, ‘unique’ or characterful’ will turn out to be dated and weird, decorated in crocheted doilies or boasting a fuchsia TV room… And a house that’s in a “sought-after” neighbourhood, is quite likely over-priced.

From the copywriter’s perspective, these terms are both specific and descriptive. They label, and they also tell a story. But we all decode them, understanding what the agent is trying to tell us, between the lines.

These terms have become a jargon of their own.

This prompts a further thought: How much of your own marketing and sales copy, is jargonised? And is this undermining the effectiveness of your copy? Are your prospects reading between your lines, and switching off your messaging?  

Is your copy inadvertently making you less remarkable and memorable?

Expert writers will tell you that in some cases, jargon can make your copy more effective (more readable, more conversational and more easily understood, especially if it’s industry-specific).

But the human brain likes the new and unusual. It pays attention and remembers more effectively, when the stimulus feels fresh. So if you want your prospect to notice you and remember you, you have to come across in a way that feels original, new and engaging.

So how do you make your copy better?

  • Stop writing on auto-pilot, and with the aim of impressing the prospect, or of selling to them. Instead, write to engage, to entertain, to inspire curiosity and to connect. You are selling to a human being, after all.
  • On this note – ask yourself, is your writing speaking the same language as your prospects? Does your writing sound like they do, when they talk about your product or service? If not, you’d better start immersing yourself in your prospect’s world, ASAP, so you can speak the same language.
  • Be aware of the jargon that you use – especially if you rely it on all the time (auto-pilot!). Challenge yourself to re-write old copy, using different descriptors or adjectives, for example. Test the use of different phrases and key words. Related to this – take a look at your competitors: How do they write about their products and services? Do you all “sound” the same?
  • Remember to make the benefits clear, because there’s always the question: What’s in it for me?
  • Cut the waffle. As a society, we are drowning in words and messaging. Don’t ask your prospect to read a whole paragraph, if you can give them the same information in just one sentence. If that sentence is well-written, it’s probably more effective than the paragraph anyway!
  • Tell your prospect what to do – make an enquiry, click for a quote, call our specialist for more information, place your order here. Make it super easy for them to do it, too, otherwise, they’ll abandon the task.

If your writing isn’t hitting the mark, hire a great copywriter – it’s an investment in your business.