5 Smile-inducing examples of conversational writing.

Conversation makes people smile

It’s not hard to write in a conversational way.

Or to make people smile.

You just need to relax a little. Access your inner human.

But a lot of people in business struggle with that simple idea. Being human.

They’ve convinced themselves they need to sound like a “real business” or a “real marketer”.

The trouble is, as soon as you do that you create distance between yourself and your readers.

No reader is going to feel an emotional connection with the blah blah blah of a business or a marketer.

But they will connect emotionally with a human voice.

Let’s look at how 5 different businesses are tapping into this simple truth…

#1 – Write as if you were talking out loud…

Innocent Drinks is a UK company that started out by selling smoothies.

Here’s their origin story. You can find it on their website.

We started innocent in 1999 after selling our smoothies at a music festival.

We put up a big sign asking people if they thought we should give up our jobs to make smoothies, and put a bin saying ‘Yes’ and a bin saying ‘No” in front of the stall.

Then we got people to vote with their empties.

At the end of the weekend, the ‘Yes’ bin was full, so we resigned from our jobs the next day and got cracking.

It’s a cute story. Very human. Very relatable. Our instinct is to smile and like these guys.

Now go back and read the text out loud.

It works as the spoken word, right? It could be the transcript of someone telling this story over drinks with friends.

When something feels natural while being read out loud, that’s conversational.

Powerful too.

#2 – Don’t be boring, even if you do make cardboard boxes

I’ve been following these guys for years, since they first built a surfboard made with cardboard.

Ernest Packaging is, to put it simply, a company that makes cardboard boxes.

Easy to be boring. But they’re not. Their website is a riot.

And the writing on their website is fun too.

Like this…

Nothing says “Valentine’s Day” quite like flowers, but nothing says “You’re sleeping on the couch tonight” like a bouquet that got smooshed on the ride home.

Transporting such a delicate bundle has its share of challenges, and with millions of relationships across the globe on the line, you can bet your box of chocolates there are companies hard at work to help you hand-deliver that precious bouquet into the waiting arms of your loved one.

The writer has a sense of humor. The approach is playful. We get to smile at the use of unexpected words, like “smooshed”.

Boring business people and smarty-pants marketers don’t say “smooshed”.

But people do. Humans do. And the image of a smooshed bouquet will likely make us smile.

#3 – Be surprisingly friendly

This is an example from one of my favorite writers, Ann Handley.

If you’ve signed up for her personal newsletter, you’ll see she likes to play with her salutation from time to time.

Hello, sunshine!

It was a year ago that I revamped, recast, remodeled this newsletter from an RSS blog feed into an actual letter—from me to you.

Since then, I’ve thought a lot about what goes into a must-read email newsletter these days.

On a dull day, with your inbox full of relentlessly boring marketing messages, it’s nice to get an email from a friendly voice saying, “Hello, sunshine!”

Other salutations have included…

Happy Sunday, friend.

Hello, hot stuff!

Ann is being friendly. Totally human. And she makes us feel she’s writing to us, one-on-one. As a friend.

That’s being conversational.

#4 – Engage your readers with questions

Jeff Walker of Product Launch Formula often uses a question or in the first few lines of his emails.

Why? Because questions engage the reader. Particularly if they are open-ended questions, inviting the reader to think… to enter into the “conversation”.

Here’s an example of how Jeff does it.

Quick question…

Have you ever set a big goal, and then just let it fall by the wayside?

I don’t mean you tried and failed. I mean you set the goal and then didn’t really try?

(I’m over here raising my hand too. My guess is that we’ve ALL done it.)

Why is that? Why do we decide to do something, and then never even start?

Great use if questions. Also, Jeff’s writing always passes the read-out-loud test.

Try reading it out loud and you’ll see what I mean. It just feels natural.

He always sounds like a friend chatting with us over coffee.

#5 – Lighten up

Something all these examples have had in common is that the companies and writers behind them didn’t take themselves too seriously.

Yes, you can lighten up a bit, even if you sell cardboard boxes.

And, as the folks at Casper demonstrate, you can be playful with the copy when you’re selling mattresses.

Try the mattress for 100 nights. No springs attached.


In other snooze

It’s silly, right? Primary school humor. But it sets a different tone. It reminds us that Casper isn’t like other mattress companies.

It has a human touch.

The common thread that runs throughout is this…

The common thread, beyond being a little light-hearted, is that all of these writers share that human touch. A human voice.

They don’t sound like traditional businesses. They definitely don’t sound like pushy marketers.

They sound like people.

And we like to connect with and buy from real people. We feel attracted to companies that connect with us in simple language. We appreciate it when they make us smile.

This lies at the heart of what it means to be a conversational writer.

NOTE: I’ve written an entire course on conversational copywriting. You can find out about it here…

Get started with this FREE Guide to Conversational Copywriting PLUS 3 Instructional Videos.

If you’re new to conversational copywriting, and all it can do for you as a marketer or copywriter, this is the perfect place to start.

  • The FREE Guide shows you 5 simple ways to make your marketing messages more conversational.
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15 thoughts on “5 Smile-inducing examples of conversational writing.

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  1. Thank you, Nick! You can always be counted on for trends and wonderful writing examples. So glad I just happened to open Linked In this morning. This is exactly what I needed to hear and just relax into writing on my blog that I’m just getting launched. And I must say it was you who planted the seed years ago in your course about money making blogs. So thank you times two!

  2. Thank you for all the information in your blog posts. By day, I’m a paralegal, and it can be a mental fight to switch gears from formal, legalese to a conversational mindset. But, fight on I must because people don’t say “attached hereto” or “enclosed herein.” They say, “hey, I stapled this together for you” or “it’s in the envelope”.

  3. HI Nick, I’ve been reading your blog for awhile now.. many thanks, by the way, I love all the posts and you have greatly helped me in my own writing..

    Anyway, I recently dealt with a company called “Brilliant Prints”.

    Here is a sample from one of their emails..

    Dear Angela Schmickl

    It is my pleasure to inform you that your brilliant print is ready to be shipped.

    “You will be pleased to know that I personally supervised our production team as they delicately printed your image and hand crafted a fine timber frame from the very best of our timber stocks.

    I watched as they delicately stretched and wrapped your print around the frame, and meticulously inserted Italian made staples to secure your print. I took great delight in witnessing our highly trained hanging expert from Japan insert the hooks and cord that will be used to hang your print for all the world to see.

    Your print was then carried aloft to our packaging temple, where our white-gloved staff checked your work of art to ensure it met our sky high standards.
    I could only smile as your print was collected by six fine horsemen from our production facility. The roar of 100 drummers drumming was deafening, as your print was collected by our transport company.

    We are thoroughly exhausted, but cannot wait to serve you again. Thank-you once again, we truly appreciate that it is you, our customer, that puts the food on our table.”

    .. made me laugh and its sooo personal!!


    • Angela, excellent email. Great writing.

      Only one niggle from me. It is clearly derived from the famous email written by Derek Sivers for his business, CD Baby, many years ago. (These guys are not the first to copy the approach.)

      Here is the original:

      Your CD has been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow.

      A team of 50 employees inspected your CD and polished it to make sure it was in the best possible condition before mailing.

      Our packing specialist from Japan lit a candle and a hush fell over the crowd as he put your CD into the finest gold-lined box that money can buy.

      We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of Portland waved “Bon Voyage!” to your package, on its way to you, in our private CD Baby jet on this day, Friday, June 6th.

      I hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby. We sure did. Your picture is on our wall as “Customer of the Year.” We’re all exhausted but can’t wait for you to come back to CDBABY.COM!!

  4. Nothing gets lost in the translation … because nothing needs to be translated. It’s there in its nakedness when you write it out loud.

    Good post, Nick. And a great example of what you are exemplifying is your link to the Ernest Packaging website. I ended up spending almost an hour entertaining myself watching ALL their videos on the front page. These videos are people wise. They aren’t pumping a specific product but, if I ever need a packaging solution, I’d be confident they would competently handle it.

  5. When I found this, I remembered that you wrote that blog post. I read that blog post too as I always read all of your blog posts after you write and post them.

  6. According to Neil Patel…

    “comScore even goes so far as to say that half of all searches will be voice searches by 2020.
    This means one thing—voice search optimization should be a top priority.”

    He recommends…

    “Simple, concise language is your best bet, and research from Brian Dean found that writing at a 9th grade reading level is ideal.

    So stay away from overly intellectual language and industry jargon and keep it conversational. ”

    According to Neil Patel the above advice is the best way to write content and copy for voice search.