What’s conversational copy anyway?
Good question. And one I’m going to help you get your head round.
It’s a term increasingly used by marketing teams – even in B2B businesses. That’s because more and more B2Bs are taking down their guard and coming across, well, more human.
You see, people used to think you’d sound all clever and important if you stuck to formal business copy. Plenty of long words…
Unrivalled expertise this. Market-leading organisation that.
The thing is, B2B people are just people. It’s corny, but true. You don’t develop an entirely different personality when you work for a B2B business. So, why should you write differently?
To my mind, in 90% of cases, you shouldn’t.
Cor, 90%. Think of all those big corporates, professional services, and highly technical organisations. Yep, 90% could help themselves by sounding more human.
Let’s start at the beginning. Conversational copywriting refers to writing like you’re having a conversation with someone. It’s more casual and relaxed. But I hasten to add, it’s STILL professional.
You don’t have to write formally to be professional. You’re allowed to be warm and friendly.
And more B2B businesses are realising this.
Just like fewer people scrub up in a suit and tie every day, writing conversationally is far more accepted these days – and downright better in most cases.
Why write conversationally?
Another good question. Well, the aim of commercial copy (and that’s what we’re dealing with here) is to engage your reader positively. You’ll want them to do something as well, be that buy something, contact you, or learn more.
We’re all busy. And we all have too much to read. It’s shoved at us from so many different directions these days. You can’t take in everything during your waking hours.
By writing in a more relaxed manner, you create words that are easier to read. Coupled with writing the right stuff (and that’s an entirely different article for me to create) you’re FAR more likely to command attention and achieve action from your audience.
In short, conversational copywriting can contribute to your bottom line. And that makes it powerful stuff.
But before you rush to your keyboard with gusto, read on…
Should my business write in a conversational tone?
I said 90% with good reason.
Given it’s not a case of writing conversationally, or not (there’s a spectrum here), most B2B businesses can benefit from sitting back and considering whether to relax their tone of voice – at least a little.
My note of caution is this: your written tone of voice MUST align with your verbal tone of voice.
Imagine you create incredibly conversational copy for your website. Perhaps you ask me to help (*timely plug*). But your prospect then phones you and experiences a very formal approach.
You’re not like your copy at all!
In this scenario, your prospect doesn’t know what to make of you. Are you what they think – or not?
Given we all want prospects to like and trust us as quickly as possible, it’s important to align ALL your communication to a tone you’re comfortable with. And whilst I’m not a fan of formal myself, if that’s honestly your bag (or if your business sector demands it – rarely is this the case) then fair play.
5 ways to write more conversationally
So, we’ve discussed the whys and wherefores around conversational writing for B2B businesses. But how on earth do you do it?
If this is new to you, pick up your phone and record yourself explaining what you do for a minute. How you’d explain to a friend, or someone sitting next to you on the train.
Transcribe it or play it back and write it down. Chances are, you’ve talked in a far more relaxed way that you’d have written.
Of course, it’s not JUST a case of writing as you speak. When you’re face to face you’ve got body language, facial expressions, and direct feedback to help steer you. But it’s a great start to write more like you speak.
Here are some other techniques that’ll really help your words relax and lean into a conversational tone of voice:
#1 Write like you’re talking to one person
Stop referring to ‘our customers’. And stop writing like you’re broadcasting to the masses. Have your SINGLE reader in mind and write to them.
Use ‘you’ and refer to yourself (or your business) as ‘I’ or ‘we’. Of course, you can still slip in your company name sometimes. But generally, get more direct – from me to you.
#2 Use contractions
And I’m not talking about the ones endured during childbirth!
There are many words we shorten when we talk. Replicating this in your copy makes a world of difference. Like this:
Aren’t instead of are not
She’ll instead of she will
I’ve instead of I have
We’d instead of we would
They’re instead of they are
Get the gist?
#3 Start some sentences with ‘And’, ‘Because’, and ‘So’
If you’re now frowning at your screen, bear with me.
Ditch your English lesson logic. Business writing doesn’t hail from school. They don’t teach it.
When we speak, we use contractions (and, yet, then, now, although) in this way.
It’s natural. It sounds more relaxed. It’s easier to read.
Also, using contractions helps you shorten sentences. And this point is VERY important when you’re writing conversationally.
#4 Cut out filler words
Take a piece of your copy and highlight every ‘that’, ‘to’, and ‘very’. What would happen if you took them all out?
In most cases, these words aren’t necessary. You might leave a few in, but most of the time, they’re fluffing up your sentences. Your copy then becomes bloated and harder to read.
There are many more filler words too. You’ll start to spot them when you look.
Find ’em an’ ditch ‘em.
#5 Use the simplest word you can
You won’t all like me on this one.
From experience, I know many B2B business sectors have longer terms they want to keep. Fair enough. But what about the rest?
You don’t need to sound all pompous and thesaurus to get your point across. In fact, simpler language is MORE LIKELY to do that for you.
So, think simple. Once drafted, edit your copy and question where you can choose a simpler word. Try these for size:
Utilise = use
Finalise = finish
Establish – set up or create
Initiate = start
Accomplish = achieve
Those five hacks should get you started. You’ll be on your way to writing more conversationally.
Many find it harder to write in this way. If that’s you, let’s have a chat. I create conversational copy for a diverse collection of B2B businesses. In fact, several stood out in a crowded market having taken this approach with both hands.
Could that be you? I’m always hanging about ready to chat.