You would think every company would prefer to communicate in a way that connects with people.
After all, before segmenting the target audience, we know the objective is to reach people.
Yet, business writing often comes off as mechanical and even stiff.
Do you want the narrative to sound like it comes from an actual human being?
If every company answered this question before embarking on a copywriting assignment, the storytelling of Corporate America would improve. Conversational language would reign supreme.
Oatly, the consumer brand behind over half of the oat milk consumed (right, by people), gets this point. The packaging on the half-gallon size delivers this narrative:
“I love my products.”
Straight from the lips of our CEO, Toni Petersson.
How dorky is that?
Of course you love your products, Mr. Petersson. You are the CEO of Oatly. You get paid to say stuff like that. Why wouldn’t you love your product?
While it’s not easy, I would like to attempt to explain this rather obvious and corny comment. What Mr. Petersson is really trying to say is that he proud to be working at a company that aspires to upgrade people’s lives while preserving the planet for generations to come. He just doesn’t have to be so obvious.
It’s like he’s trying to sell you something.
I’ve written about Oatly before and their “kids-don’t-try-this-at-home” approach to developing content that connects with people.
Years ago, before he landed the Twitter CEO gig Dick Costolo wrote about “voice” and his experience with Moosejaw.com when they sent him the following letter after an order:
“If you are actually reading this note you should be super happy. First, you have received your order, reading is fun and getting something in the mail (even if you bought it yourself) has got to make the day better. Second, I put your order together all by myself.”
Costolo went on to say:
“That’s a fun note to read. I like Moosejaw more because of that note. Is it silly? Sure, it’s a silly note. Why does the note make me like Moosejaw more? People like it when companies have personalities.”
Machines do not have personalities.
Which brings us back to writing like a human being and the beauty of conversational language.
B2B companies tend to think they should maintain a professional tone in reaching their buyers, that a conversational tone only makes sense for consumer brands trying to reach a mass audience. Unfortunately, this quest for a professional tone often morphs into corporate speak.
I’m not suggesting that B2B companies should be borrowing the playbook from Oatly or Moosejaw. Simply developing copy that sounds like it came from an actual human being would be a win.
After all, regardless of the type of the company, it’s people who are sizing you up for the potential purchase.