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Show Notes

Today I wanted to talk to you about how, when it comes to modern copywriting, apostrophes and contractions are your friend.

The Problem of Apostrophobia

We’re commonly taught – in school, and possibly also by caregivers, and even in higher education – that using contractions like “you’re,” “don’t,” “they’ve,” and “we’ll,” instead of “you are,” “do not,” “they have,” and “we will” make writing far too casual.

By extension, this thinking has bled over into our opinions about business writing, and by further extension, our thinking around copywriting as a whole. The misconception that apostrophes = bad may have been the case years ago, but modern marketing is a completely different animal. So I say that copy and content can completely sound professional with contractions and shortened phrases.

Undoing The Programming

Starting with the more surface level, consider these two examples:

Throughout your training, we will work closely with you to ensure that you are able to apply this essential knowledge straight away.

OR

Throughout your training, we’ll work closely with you to ensure that you’re able to apply this essential knowledge straight away.

The second sentence feels a little warmer; it comes across as approachable, and makes the “speaker” appear more trustworthy and human. It’s a simple tip that’s often overlooked in favour of some of the more highfalutin linguistic foibles.

However personally, I think this also goes a little deeper. We’re always looking to create genuine human connections with our audience. Gone are the Mad Men days of only marketing to people through impersonal, one-to-many TV spots, magazine ads, and billboards. We’re now advertising to people through most of the screens present in their homes, workplaces, and pockets. In such a personal space, you need to make a genuine connection. And wouldn’t you know it, the one of the best ways to forge a genuine connection is to write like people talk.

The Power of Writing Like You Talk

Writing in the same way that you’d have a real, genuine, warm chat with someone feels welcoming and disarming, even in B2B environments. As a B2B specialist, this is a hurdle that I’ve had to cross a few times with prospects and clients. Yes, sometimes more formal writing is the best way to go. But most of the time, B2B buyers are time poor, and don’t want to sift through screeds of posh, prescribed text. They just want the facts and to feel heard and understood – however a little persuasive polish won’t hurt.

Even professional organisations like consulting firms, law firms, and the like are starting to err on the side of brevity – within their marketing at least.

And to extrapolate further, now more than ever, your average person is aware of the inherent potential falsehoods of online marketing. There are too many wonkily worded, disingenuous app advertisements online where the coins fall into the lava; too many not technically incorrect claims made by less scrupulous influencers; too many blog posts that claim that their advice is the be all and end all.

Being genuine, real, and approachable is a breath of fresh air in comparison. Or maybe that’s a little much to read into a simple full stop with a tail on it.

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