You’re dreaming of a world where your words are heard. But in reality, your idea could be misunderstood or worse, diluted before it reaches your readers — so make it work and make it pop.
Is your language really talking to your desired audience?
One time, I finished a workout and overheard a conversation between some aunties who were talking about an apartment notice from the building management board and how they weren't buying whatever it was that the board was telling them.
The tenants didn’t understand what the board wanted to change. The written language was in Korean, which was their native language but they didn’t get it at all because it didn’t look important. Turns out that the board wanted to remodel the gym.
So, don’t expect everyone to understand what you want to say. Check for yourself if you can relate to any of the common mistakes below that we've been guilty of making at least once in our lives.
1. You never use "You".
Most of the mistakes many aspiring entrepreneurs make is that they always talk about themselves in the first person. It’s good to let people know the whys, hows, and whats of what you're selling. But, this becomes an empty idea if people can’t figure out the benefits of your product in the long run. What’s the point of service if it can't improve others’ lives?
What you should do: Change "we" or "I" to "you" and see the difference.
2. You actually don’t know who you’re talking to.
In the online world, we know that all sorts of people can visit your space through the most unexpected ways. But it doesn’t mean that you should please every single one of them. BE SPECIFIC in everything that you want to convey. Clarity is the key to content that leads to action.
What you should do: Pick a target audience who will appreciate your service the most. Write about what they'll be keen on actively reading about and want to seek out.
3. You use internal terms.
Internal language doesn't translate to the general public, but we often use them more often than we realize. I’ve worked at an NGO and have sometimes failed at giving customers a sense of sympathy having unconsciously used "processing lines," which are non-relatable to our readers, just look at this example:
Contact our Happiness B2C Head, Kevin Wang for any questions email@example.com
What you should do: Be external. Change the previous line to: "Kevin knows everything, shoot your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org."
4. You don’t give out examples.
Don't offer conclusions when there’s no context to base things on. Let’s say that you have no clue on fixing system errors on your laptop. If someone says "Something’s wrong with your C++ programming language so install MacKeeper to keep your web environment safe," — you probably would have no idea with what to actually do.
What you should do: Give REALLY, REALLY simple examples and instruction. Pretend that you are talking to your seven-year-old cousin. A simpler solution would be instructions such as "Click here," "Correct A to B," and "Download the MacKeeper program here."
5. You use more adjectives than verbs.
People should get that your service matters, but why should it for them? What’s the end result if they don’t choose you? People react the most to the potential loss that they might suffer, which pushes them to look for a solution, or action. If you truly want to touch their emotions, stop embellishing and keep it fresh and relevant.
What you should do: Don’t say it, show it. For example, if you are a witty editor, instead of mentioning it in your profile, write a spot-on clever line that will wow people.
6. You focus on style than context.
Have you ever experienced the awkward feeling of seeing a lame advertisement? I've had my fair share of bad ads while watching movies in a theater and felt bad for those brands. Being creative is good, but not when the message gets messed up by the execution. When instant message delivery matters, using content as art is not a good idea.
What you should do: Stay neat and avoid being wordy. Erase everything flowery because it is just going to make your message sound desperate and not heartfelt.
Create tangible ideas and grab your people. Good luck until then!
Cebin Jeong | Content Curator
Still struggling with the "right" words? Let me help you re-hash your lines.