Watch your tone with me

Yesterday I said that it’s critical to strike the right tone for your audience—or you’ll come across as hype-y or (just as bad) flat and boring.

Subscriber David asks:


Can you talk some more about the second to last sentence in your email? About matching your tone to the customer’s expectations.

How do you determine what their expectation is?


There are a couple of possible scenarios here.

In an ideal world, you’re selling to people that you know intimately. You already understand how they think and talk—because you ARE one of them.

You’re a 3rd degree blackbelt selling to martial arts fiends. Or a successful real estate agent who helps other agents get their marketing act together. Or a seasoned programmer helping up-and-comers learn the latest hot platform.

In that case, you are already in their world. You know how they talk to each other, and that’s the tone you should aim for.

Martial artists love loud, outrageous copy that drips with testosterone. Programmers… Not so much.

You don’t always know your market this well, though.

And when that’s the case, you have to turn to the copywriter’s secret weapon—research.

When I’m writing for a new product, I’ll spend way more time researching the market and studying the way they communicate than I do on actually writing the copy.

I’ll scour the web looking for places where my prospects hang out and talk.

Forums are the best—if I can find them. I’ll read blog posts (especially the comments). Study Amazon book reviews. Infiltrate Facebook groups and listen like a fly on the wall.

And all along I’m taking reams of notes—about the jargon and phrases people use, their level of passion and interest, and the hotbutton topics that get them to set their hair on fire.

When I finally sit down to write, I have a deep store of information that enables me to “talk like a native.”

There’s no shortcut for this process, although some writers try to skimp on it anyway.

If you do it right, your market will subconsciously recognize the ring of authenticity in your copy—and they’ll focus on what you’re saying, rather than how you say it.