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The Differences Between Speaking and Writing – Part 3

There are definitely more than three differences between speaking and writing. But this is the last post in this particular series nonetheless.

We covered repetitive language on February 21. Then, on February 28, we discussed how to simulate tone and volume in mere black and white. Now, for our final installment on this topic, we’re talking about your sales pitch.

Stated bluntly, it’s a whole lot easier to sell something in person than it is to sell it in writing.

I’m not saying it’s impossible by any means. As evidenced by the onslaught of online ads that pop out at us every day, it’s not.

(Make them stop. Make them stop!)

But it is more difficult, a handicap you need to be aware of if you’re writing to sell stuff.

To illustrate this, consider my old employers, who have been around for 36 years, I believe. That matters, since it means they began marketing themselves way back before the internet was a thing.

People were still listening to records at the time, newspapers weren’t shutting down every other second, and the power of print was much more dominant – though still not as dominant as some good old face-to-face interactions were.

That was why door-to-door salesmanship still worked way back in 1983. (For that matter, people still rely on it today as well to some degree.)

As for my employers, they did pretty well with their written ads, growing at a decent pace for three decades. They had their good years. They had their bad years. But the general trend was onward and upward.

That trend got some serious stimulation though when management decided to start making audio and video ads. Recognizing the differences between speaking and writing, the up-and-ups wanted to capitalize on both and see where it took them.

I wasn’t in marketing – naturally, my role was editorial – so I can’t tell you how much more profit came pouring in after they put that thought into action.

What I can tell you is that the company went from having maybe 50 employees to 100 in a few years’ time. Which meant they were suddenly making some serious bank.

That’s the power of the spoken word.

Since I only write limited marketing copy – with most of my professional writing efforts focused on website material, articles, blog posts and the like – I don’t want to risk giving you bad advice on how to harness the power of the written word.

It’s one thing to see the differences between speaking and writing. It’s another to manage those differences.

And managing those differences in marketing copy can be a story unto itself.

That’s why I’m turning to Copyblogger’s article “1-2-3-4 Formula for Persuasive Copy.” It’s an excellent article with step-by-step instructions to show customers/readers:

  1. What you’ve got for them

  2. What it’s going to do for them

  3. Who you are

  4. What they need to do next.

You can read the whole copy right here. In fact, I’d recommend you do.

But even if all you do is follow the formula above, you’re off to a solid start – because you’re beginning and ending with the customer/reader, not the writer/seller.

The writer/seller only comes into the picture to establish credibility and offer a source to meet the customer’s needs.

Otherwise, it’s all about the customer/reader. And – differences between speaking and writing or not – that kind of sympathy sells.


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