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Copywriting Rule #1: Write As You Speak

For some reason, when we write copy we think we have to sound ‘professional’ and ‘intelligent’ which, more often than not, comes across sounding like a cranky headmaster. Here’s what I mean:

Let’s say you’re following up on a client who’s credit card didn’t go through. The letter most people write sounds like this:

“It is our duty to inform you that your credit card has been declined three times this month. We regret that we shall now have to send this to our accounts department for follow up and bill you for a $50 late payment fee should this not be rectified within the next seven days.“

How many times have you seen that? And how does it make you feel – like a criminal right? Great for rapport – not. Especially if it’s not their fault.

Sure, it’s no fun sending out letters like this, but wouldn’t it be better if it went like this:

“You are one of our most valued customers and have been for three years.

But for some reason the credit card number we have on file has come up ‘declined’ on three occasions this month.

Would you mind giving us a quick call to check that the number is still valid?

Late payments incur a fee of $50 but hopefully we can sort out this problem before too long. Would you mind giving me a call within the next seven days to discuss? Thank you.”

How much nicer would it be to hear that?

The difference between the two is this: the second one was written the way someone would speak.

It’s so simple and you don’t have to be a wordsmith to do it. Just pretend you’re speaking to someone as if they were your friend. Picture them in your mind and tell them what you want to say. Record what you say, write it down, and viola! – your letter is written.