How to write for humans 21 April 2009
Machines process information, but they can’t respond to it. You want your copy to get noticed by the search engine spiders, but you also want human beings to buy into your message. So why do we still see copy that reads like something produced by a committee of R2-D2s? In my last post I mentioned what I affectionately call robot language, the kind of content that fails to launch – or engage. But when you’re writing about something factual, functional or just plain unfamiliar, it’s all too easy to sound a little creaky.
Last week someone asked me to help them ‘humanise’ their copy. I understood what he meant straight away. As I’ve said before, copywriting is about turning a subject on its head. Humanising a potentially dry subject is about bringing the copy to life so that it’s less ‘I, Robot’ and more ‘I can relate’. One of my favourite projects ever was turning things like door cylinder locks and letter plates into quirky stories that would appeal in a customer brochure. There’s the old saying – facts tell, but stories sell. And everybody likes a good story. After all, we’re only human.
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