I love all things Japanese. You might call me a Japanophile. I have kimonos, art, books, statues, tattoos. Oh, the list goes on.
I recently reread one of my favourite books, Geisha: The secret history of a vanishing world, by Lesley Downer. It’s said that the author delved further into the ‘flower and willow world’ than any other outsider.
To spend time the world of the geisha you need money, the correct introductions, and you need to know the lingo. It struck me, as I read, that this secret language and barriers to connection make the geisha more exclusive.
The language you use in your copywriting can have exactly this effect, drawing an invisible boundary that only some people can cross.
While jargon and in-jokes and fancy, formal dialogue are generally shunned for copywriting with broad appeal, you can use them to your advantage and create your own “members only” club for your message.
If you are writing for a distinct group of people – know their language. And use it.
It doesn’t work for…
It doesn’t work for businesses that are complicated and that complication is a barrier to customers. Like, asbestos removal or law firms. These businesses need to have that complication and jargon removed so that customers feel easy about saying yes (because they don’t want to feel stupid).
It works for…
This copywriting technique is useful if you’re writing for a hobby or passion business, meaning a business that taps into someone’s interests and passions. Like, a business that sells sewing… things. Or bike… bits. These are usually industries that have jargon and people who are passionate about the industry will love being able to talk the talk. So, you can too.
Don’t let it fall flat
The key to knowing if your copy will hit the mark is knowing who you are talking to.
Start by defining your target audience (really clearly) and work backwards. Understand their stage of awareness and level of understanding about the topic. If you’re writing for audiences really early in their awareness, keep the language inclusive.
The danger of exclusion is excluding your intended audience. The key to knowing if your copy will hit the mark is knowing who you are talking to.
If you are writing copy aimed at IT systems administrators, don’t break the ideas down to high school computing. Conversely, don’t start talking to SEO beginners about complex search engine algorithms.
You can break all the copywriting rules to create exclusivity for an audience. But make sure they are actually the ones reading your copy!
P.S. A great way to attract the right kind of audience is to include your target market in your headline. It will grab their attention and let everyone just pass on by. Like this …
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