Being human: 8 qualities to express in marketing messages

… And why being human matters

Facts are fabulous. Logic is lovely. Great formatting grabs attention. But you need to add the human touch if you want to create powerful marketing messages.
Internal communications, marketing campaigns, adverts, post-sales customer stuff, site content, social networking… you name it, being human gives you a marketing advantage.
It’s all about building trust, creating the kind of relationship that makes people want to buy from you. You don’t need to make people love you forever or snog you with tongues. Just make them trust you enough to put their needs into your capable hands, and feel comfortable dipping their hands into their pockets.
Which are the most important emotions to express? Here are eight of the best.

  1. Confidence – Write with confidence in your own abilities, using definite words like will and do instead of weak, indecisive words like can and may, which come across as comparatively hesitant and make you sound as though you doubt yourself. Don’t offer something, it sounds really farty. Give or provide it instead. It isn’t about being cocky, just reassuringly sure of yourself.
  2. Reliability – Never assume people will just know you’re reliable and trustworthy by osmosis. You need to make it clear that you are trustworthy, the best person or business for the job, and there are all sorts of subtle ways to do it, using a combination of tone of voice and evidence-based messaging.
  3. Honesty – Were you born yesterday? Presumably not, and nor are most people. Most of us can smell insincerity a mile away. You need to be straightforward, clear and unambiguous, with absolutely no BS.
  4. Efficiency – You promise excellent service. And you deliver it, too. You need to get the message across, whether you do it overtly or more subtly. How about a customer quote at the top of the relevant page, or every page, highlighting your administrative and organisational brilliance? Or a collection of three short one-liner case studies or customer comments? Or a bulleted ‘our promise’ feature?
  5. Authority – You are very good at what you do. How do you get your professionalism across? You need to write with the right level of gravitas for the situation in hand without being poker faced or stiff. If the context allows, it’s often a good idea to highlight your experience and expertise with benefit-led examples, even if they’re just simple one-liners.
  6. Empathy – They might be high flying investment bankers or florists, solicitors or working girls. Whoever your audience, whatever their circumstances, role or lifestyle, they will be more likely to react the way you want them to if they feel you really do understand and relate to their wants and needs. Benefit led copy is a great way to get empathy across.
  7. Fallibility – Fallibility is no bad thing in marketing terms. Expressing it can be powerfully disarming. And modesty is an attractive trait too, especially in Britain where we’re inclined to feel warmer towards people who don’t big themselves up too much. As you cam imagine, balancing confidence, authority and humility is no mean feat, but it can be done.
  8. Friendliness – In most marketing contexts, there’s no need to get too up close and intimate with your audience. While nobody enjoys interacting with a cold fish,  there’s a fine line between warm and creepy. It’s often enough to be approachable, and a copywriting pro will help you steer clear of fatal obsequiousness.

What do you think is the most important human quality to put across in your marketing materials, and why?

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