For years, we’ve been taught to write with personality. “Don’t let your copy read like a instructor’s manual.” And as a group I’d say we’ve gotten that message really well – maybe too well.
Can you become so relaxed in your writing style that you actually offend your readers? I’m seeing it happen more and more.
We each want to show who we are, stand out, and keep our readers engaged until the end of our content. All very good goals!
You’ve likely been told to write like you’d talk to a friend, and I love that advice, I too offer it. But recently I’ve seen a new trend that could have very damaging effects.
Becoming too relaxed.
I’m not talking with grammar or punctuation. I’m talking about formality.
I have recently received a few different emails that seem to cross a line from jovial to outright unprofessional. The last one was a newsletter that is targeted to entrepreneurial professionals. When I read the first two words I was so taken a back that I didn’t read another word.
The newsletter opened with, ‘Hey Kiddo’
I’m sure the intention was harmless. She probably just wanted to come across as fun. But she made a fatal error. She didn’t stop and think about who her target reader is and if they would categorize themselves by such a greeting.
Unfortunately for this writer, I didn’t find it cute, fun, or even mildly acceptable. I am not a kiddo and I’d dare to guess that I was not the only one thrown off by the greeting. Maybe it’s just me but it seriously threw me! Would it have bothered you?
Here are two habits that may be hurting your power to influence:
1. Greetings that isolate or irritate a portion of your readers. ‘Kiddo’ (unless they are under the age of 9), ‘mama’ (unless you know they are all mothers), or ‘boss lady’ (when you have men on your list) are good examples. Stop and consider who you’re writing to and confirm that your salutation will feel natural for your audience.
2. Cursing. It seems to be a trend right now and I can pretty much pin point the 3 books that have added fuel to the fire. The truth is, there are a lot of people who don’t swear, ever. I’m one of them. Now I have no problem overlooking a curse word here and there, but belligerent use of curse words, especially the F-word, can be offensive and distracting from the awesome message you have to share. I for one have unsubscribed because I just don’t appreciate being cursed at, and I’d dare to wager that I’m not the only one.
So there you have it, two unintentional yet potentially harmful writing mistakes that could destroy your perceived brand.