Or… WHY it’s okay for content marketing to use contractions

Gotta love the English language. There’s a contraction … or a painful contraction. And it all depends on context, right? What does this have to do with content marketing?

Well, there’s also a world of difference between writing for the halls of higher education and content marketing for your target market.

Take contractions, for example.

Contractions are the mashup of two words into one with the help of a loving apostrophe. You are = you’re. 

If you’re writing for a scientific, academic, or medical journal, you’ll ditch the contractions. Your language must be formal and precise. Otherwise professionals won’t take your important information seriously. 

Write like a “normal” human talks.

However, when you’re writing to explain a product or service, you need to have a normal human conversation. You need to write like you talk in every day life.

Why? If you’re selling online, you don’t want to talk down to your audience from an expert status. 

Instead, imagine you’re sitting in a coffee shop (my favorite) talking to a friend. You’ll enthusiastically tell your friend about your great finds or experiences. Or you might recommend a service provider if your friend has a need. 

This kind of conversation builds the KLT factor — Know, Like, and Trust. By far, this factor is the most effective selling tool in the world. We want to buy from someone we know, like, and trust. 

Simply put, write like those conversations at the coffee shop. 

Which grammar rules are okay to break? {Hold the anxious thoughts!}

Content marketing writing is far different from how I was taught to write papers in school. OH, boy. 

If my 10th grade English grammar teacher ever reads this, I’m sunk. She rigorously knocked off points for each misplaced comma, semi-colon, missing dots on i’s, or failure to cross a “t”. My first papers were littered with anxiety-inducing red marks. 

She also administered rigorous spelling and vocabulary tests. Those were the “good ol’ days.” If you failed to include an article adjective such as “a”, “an”, or “the” in your memorized vocabulary definition, you were also docked points. It’s a wonder I ever made an “A” in that class. 

Contractions. Well, we did learn how to properly spell contractions. Always insert apostrophes to replace the missing letters. I recommend making a spelling list of common contractions.

Please do spell your contractions correctly. Otherwise you end up with a jealous possessive pronoun — your or their. 

You, your, (a pronoun showing that you possess something), and you’re, short for “you are” — one of the most commonly misused contractions today. I digress.

Back to high school English class — if a contraction showed up in any written paper for English or Literature, you received red marks and a pained expression. I can almost see my teacher’s face if she were to read this.

Conversations outside of class were sprinkled with contractions, though.

Y’all was the favorite. Standing for “You all”, the South has this word down to a regional artform.

We never dared put that one down on paper. I still avoid the y’all in my content marketing writing.

Another rule I now break? Never start a sentence with a conjunction — and, but, or. But I do.

So what happened to me? I’ve had to unlearn things and forgive myself. I’ve also had to block out the mental image of that highschool teacher’s face. She was the one who told me I should write. 

Quite honestly, I’m sure she never imagined I’d write web copy for a small business in Australia, lawyers in California, or a therapist in NYC. Who could’ve imagined the world wide web at that point? Now we talk to people all around the world on a daily basis.

Talk directly to your clients. All marketing is human to human.

So does this content marketing style work for professional service providers? Yes. Even for doctors, lawyers, and some scientists. Why? 

Your clients come looking for you. Some of them are in a hot mess. Throw a bunch of medical or legal jargon at them that they don’t understand. They click away from your web page confused.

If you confuse, you lose a potential client. 

When someone visits your social media page or website, the first thing they’re looking for is “what’s in it for me?” You really have only a few seconds to snag their attention. So talk directly to them. Use those personal pronouns.

You can be professional and human.

Truth. If you’re a world-renowned cardiac surgeon, potential clients want to see your expertise and professional accolades. Your reputation alone may win the day. That’s fine. But, deep down, they’ll also want to know if you’re a real person who cares about their patients. Ask any scared human who’s ever visited a doctor.

Be generous. Reach out a welcoming, friendly hand across the web. Share a little personal information. What about mentioning a favorite hobby or sport on your About Me page? You’re just another human with a helpful solution, right?

Simplify where you can. Avoid too much stuffy talk. You’ll be the world’s best AND most personable professional service provider or SaaS company.

Language and marketing keep evolving — so evolve.

Hang out where your clients are on social media. Learn their lingo. For starters, surf some TikTok video content.

With at least 100 million TikTok users in the US alone, you’re sure to learn something new. TikTok video content is short — just like most contractions.   

Important to note — content marketing strategies are also ever-evolving, just like tech. Being a friendly, helpful human never goes out of style, though. 

There you go, winning friends and influencing clients. You’re welcome! (Sorry, not sorry, if you’re reading this, Mrs. High School English teacher.)

#contentmarketingtips #freelancewriter