05 Sep

Listen to how others talk

I came across this brilliant article about Michael Caine,
where he talks about learning his acting skills and knowing how to play different characters simply by listening to how the general public talk (largely on the tube, but he could’ve been doing this anywhere).

That’s it. That’s the secret of this internationally renowned actor, with a career spanning 50 years and two Oscars, a BAFTA, a Golden Globe Award, a CBE, and a Knighthood – listen to others talking.

Well if it’s good enough for Michael Caine, it’s good enough for me and any other copywriters out there (or anyone in marketing, in general): listen to people.

The general public, who will invariably make up the audience that your product/service/cause is aimed at, are the people you will always be talking to with any marketing.

You might as well talk to them exactly how they’re used to being spoken to. After all, they don’t go round talking in complex marketing/sales messages, they don’t walk around listing benefits of a product or service, and they read things back – in their head – in their speaking voice.

This doesn’t mean you talk to every audience in the same voice, but it does mean that if you want to write about healthy food / lifestyle, it might be worth popping into a couple of juice bars, getting a drink, and listening to how people in there talk.
If you want to know how wealthy, older investors talk, it may well be worth going to certain seminars and networking events, or attending an exhibition aimed at the ‘over 50s’, and doing a spot of eavesdropping.
Obviously, it’s not always possible (both in terms of time available and getting to the right people) to listen to an audience in this way, so follow the relevant people on Twitter, visit forums they post on, look what they say when reviewing your (or your client’s) product/service online – the words they use.

None of this is particularly tricky, and if it works for Michael Caine it works for me – just listen to how the people you want to play / write to act, and aim what you say at them, in a way they can relate to.

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