Rules were made to be broken!
Those famous last words have led to the downfall of countless businesses and people, but when it comes to creating your marketing messages, you can break a lot of rules and actually get better results. In fact, if you’re not breaking some grammar rules, you’re probably not getting the best results—not even close.
Why is breaking some grammar rules important to improve your marketing results?
It’s all about your audience. Who is your target audience? What are their expectations for your brand or a brand similar to yours that offers similar products or services to you? If that brand were a person, how would your target audience want it to speak to them? What words would they want that person to use? How would they expect sentences to be structured?
In simplest terms, you should break grammar rules in your marketing messages when it matches your target audience’s expectations for your brand.
If your audience is expecting a fun, playful, conversational brand, they’re not looking for perfect grammar. They’re looking for friendliness and a comfortable brand experience. Polished messages that sound like they came straight out of a text book will turn them off of your brand, and they might never come back.
If your marketing messages don’t match your target audience’s expectations for your brand and perceptions of your brand, then your results will suffer. Here are five rules you can—and often should—break in your copywriting so your marketing messages appeal to your target audience not just in terms of the content but also in the structure and tone:
1. Use Contractions
Please use contractions. The vast majority of marketing messages should use contractions because they sound more natural. Not using contractions makes your marketing messages sound very formal and there are far fewer instances where formal writing is the best choice in copywriting than conversational writing.
That’s not to say that you should always use contractions, but most of the time, you should.
2. End Sentences with Prepositions
Sorry to my English teachers, but people end sentences with prepositions all the time when they speak, so it makes sense to end sentences with prepositions in marketing messages, too. In fact, go ahead and embrace those dangling prepositions!
A key part of writing powerful marketing messages is omitting the fluff. Any extraneous words that don’t add value to the message for the consumer and don’t help to drive the consumer to action should be deleted. Let those prepositions dangle!
3. Use Sentence Fragments
Yes, we learned to write in complete sentences that include a subject and predicate, but in copywriting, you can assume that people understand your messages in fragments. Think of it this way. We don’t always speak in complete sentences, so your marketing messages don’t have to be in complete sentences either.
Get creative and use the sentence structure that best conveys your message and drives consumers to action regardless of whether or not the structures you use follow all of the rules you learned in school.
4. Use One Sentence Paragraphs
One sentence paragraphs can add importance to specific points in your copywriting. They can also add much-needed white space in brochures, ads, and websites.
Use them freely! They add a powerful visual impact to your marketing messages.
5. Use Colloquialisms and Slang Words
If your audience will respond to colloquialisms and slang words and using those words matches the audience’s expectations for your brand, then use them.
Remember, you’re writing for your audience not for you, your peers, your boss, or your former teachers. Use the words your audience will respond to even if they’re not words you’d use anywhere else.
A Final Tip
Write your copy and then read it out loud. Does it sound like what your target audience will expect from your brand or a similar brand? Or does it sound like you’re reading a text book? The former is good. The latter is bad.