You know how it is with content -- most of the stuff you skim, strip mine for meaning, and almost immediately forget. But then there are those people who put out stuff that just grips you. You feel like you're sitting there with them as they talk, you really want to hear what they're going to say next, and when they have stuff to sell, you're much more likely to be interested in it, and to trust them enough to buy it.
OK, so this isn't news to you -- the whole "know, like, trust, buy" journey is plastered across every marketing course out there. But while we can all vigorously agree that making people feel connected with your writing is a good thing, no one seems to be have particularly useful advice on how to do that.
And there's a good reason for that -- because just like connecting with people in real life, connecting with people through your writing is as much an art as a science.
That's why you won't find any good 7 step templates to make it work. I mean, when's the last time you felt really connected to a mad lib?
That being said, there are things that you can do to amp up the connection in your content. And to tell you about it, we have to get into ... theology. Probably the last thing you ever expected from this particular blog :)
So there was this theologian-philosopher back in the early 1900s named Martin Buber, and one of his most famous ideas is the distinction between I-It relationships and I-Thou relationships.
This dude. He looks like the kind of guy to come up with an I-Thou relationship, right?
In an I-It relationship, you see the other person you're interacting with as primarily a function. We tend to do this with ... well, pretty much everyone, but especially waiters, mail workers, anyone who's doing us a service.
In an I-Thou relationship though, there's an actual connection between you and the other person, on a human to human level.
And this is exactly the underlying concept of truly great copy and content that makes you feel connected -- it's created from a place of I-Thou. And this is hard. I mean, it's not like you regularly see the people on the other side of the screen, so it's very, very easy to start thinking of them in terms of numbers, segments of your mailing list, or the ever-popular cash piñata. That's why you see workarounds like trying to think of one specific person out of your audience when you're writing. And while it's all well and good to sit down and think really hard to yourself, "I am creating an I-Thou relationship!" it's still a workaround -- trying to impose this very human feeling into a very disconnected, technology-bound setting.
What to do, what to do?
Part of it is just sitting down in the chair and doing it -- the more you write, the more you'll be able to relax into your own way of speaking and get out of all those weird habits you pick up in school that make you sound like a textbook and not a human.
Part of it is spending time with the people who are actually reading your stuff. In person, if you can, but online if you can't. The more you can make them seem human to your brain, the more you'll naturally gravitate towards writing like one.
And part of it is getting those little things right -- the typos, the fact checking, the being extra super sure that what you're writing is going to be truly valuable in some tangible way to your readers. As I have said over and over and over again,
Ultimately, just like growing a relationship with people in real life, growing a relationship with your readers takes time, patience, chemistry, and respect.
So figure out exactly what you really need to say, and write just that. Write it like you're writing to a friend, an apprentice, a lover; write it any way you like -- but write it like a human.
Need some help writing like a human? (Or want someone to do it for you?) We can do that.
Prefer to keep things on the DL for now? That's cool too. Get actionable tips, effective strategies, and absolutely irreverent advice for getting your words to actually work for your business right here:
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