I’ve heard that author Yuval Noah Harari was writing a book for kids a while ago.
And what he said stuck with me, something like (paraphrasing) “writing for kids is hard. You have to distill ideas even further. For example, how would you explain capitalism and religion to kids?”
Out of curiosity, I asked ChatGPT for that…
Pretty good response, even though many kids might still find it hard to understand what a “marketplace” is for instance.
It is very hard indeed to distill ideas down to their core.
I thought the idea sums up pretty well what we’re trying to do every day in our copy.
In every message and for every different business, we have to find the simplicity, the core elements that speak vividly to our target audience… in a language they can grasp.
For me a lot of that work comes down to creating useful brand voice and tone guidelines. You know, once you can actually use in your marketing, not just fancy slides that will just pile up in someone’s Google Drive.
In particular, one section my clients find very valuable, is the “Guiding principles” of voice.
These are simple principles that provide a framework for writing in the brand’s voice and tone.
And for each principle I include:
- What it means
- How it affects our writing
- Example copy
- What not to do in the copy
- Example of incorrect copy
Obviously a lot of the work is the research, but when you can crystallize it and distill it down to these core elements, that’s when you can say you’re speaking your audience’s lingo.
It’s hard work, but it pays off, both for your audience and for you as a student of humans.
P.S. I’ve recently dove into a podcast called “Founders”. The guys reads a ton of biographies of successful entrepreneurs and distills them down to 1-2 hour episodes (he’s done a couple great episodes on David Ogilvy too). I’m starting to think I’d love to do the same for copywriters. I’m obsessed with learning and it would be a fun side passion project. Would you be interested?
P.P.S. I’m gonna take a break around July for some traveling, but I’m booking a couple of new clients for August. Interested in working together? Let’s hop on a call!
Quote and reflection of the day:
“Aristotle maintained that wisdom entails an understanding of causes, of why things are the way they are. To him, a knowledgeable person knows a lot about what and how, but a wise person understands why.”
- Thomas Gilovich and Lee Ross, The Wisest One in the Room
Study cause and effect to get perspective and deep understanding. Look for the reason why something works or doesn’t and challenge yourself assumptions to become wiser.