Archives: talking to your customers

Don't just say the old lady screamed. Bring her on and let her scream.

Any writer worth the name knows that you have to tailor your message to your target audience. No matter what your personal writerly inclinations are, no matter how vast the breadth of your vocabulary, you may need to rein in your natural style to suit the people who’ll be reading you.

For many writers who work for contemporary brands, that means aiming a little lower than your own capabilities: sentences may need trimming to make them easier to read, three-dollar words like ubiquitous may need to bow before more common terms like widespread, and what you learned to be a strong, classical paragraph may need to split itself, amoeba-like, to accommodate less skilled readers.

But no matter what measures you have to take to speak properly to your whole audience, one thing you can never do is make them aware you’re talking down to them.

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