How to Talk to Your Audience Like a Real Human in 5 Steps

The tech scene is full of robots these days. We have Alexa to turn on our lights, Google Home to answer all our obscure questions, and “Westworld” to keep us up past our bedtime. But while the prospect of a self-driving car gets us excited, the thought of a brand communicating with us like a robot does not.

Back in the day, when content and advertising was distributed one-to-many, robot-like communication was commonplace. And no, we don’t literally mean brands used computerized voices and jerky movements to drive consumers to take action (that would make anyone go nuts!)--but they did rely on broadly appealing value propositions and in-your-face creative to capture attention. Often, the loudest and catchiest message won. But for today’s digital-savvy consumers, these old fashioned tactics can feel impersonal and overwhelming. Most get tuned out altogether.

Effective brand communication needs to feel personalized, conversational and hyper-targeted. Follow these five easy steps to ensure your brand speaks to consumers like a real human, not some unwelcome robot:

  1. Be Conversational
The old school “radio voice”--the one that shouts and repeats the same line over and over to get your attention--no longer has a place in today’s media. The swift adoption of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and other social media platforms has turned daily communication ultra-casual. People now seek more comfortable, informal connections online. Sometimes these aren’t even verbal, as is the case with the influx of brands using emojis to appeal to younger audiences. For brands, integrating language and tone that matches that of your desired audience means your message is more likely to be heard, remembered and repeated.
  1. Talk With Them, Not At Them
People have spent far too many years bombarded with ads that talk at them. It’s a lot of noise to wade through just to get to the content you want. Naturally, people have adapted by overlooking and ignoring generic messages that could be targeted at anyone. It’s only the personalized, hyper-targeted ones that still stand out. Even the simple addition of “Hey, you…” or “Hey, Pandora listener…” or “Hey, we know you’re in the middle of reading a blog post, but…” can be the key to unlocking an audience’s attention.
  1. Keep It Simple, Stupid
The good ol’ K.I.S.S. rule is especially applicable here. In addition to being conversational in tone, a successful message also needs to be easy to follow. Remember, to an expert everything seems obvious. So take a step back and try to communicate your message as if you were speaking to someone who didn’t know everything (or even anything!) about what your brand offers. This is critical when it comes to your call-to-action. Handhold your audience a little (like a friend!) and guide them to the next step that will help achieve your marketing goals.
  1. Show Some Personality
We’re lucky to be marketers in an age where brand personalities are encouraged. Think about REI #OptOutside, Etsy or even Chubbies--they’ve all found powerful niche markets because they weren’t afraid to express an authentic brand personality. This leads to a deeper connection between brand and customer that has proven to drive major growth and sales--not to mention long-term brand loyalty. In this always-on, always-connected world we live in, it might come as a surprise that real connections are hard to come when we do find them, it’s all the more valuable.
  1. Create an Experience
What bonds people together more than a shared experience? Nothing--because a good experience is more than fun, it creates lasting memories. We know from our recent neuroscience study that long-term memory encoding is what separates the good from the great in advertising. Large-scale, cross-platform content programs definitely achieve this, but so do smaller efforts like tapping into the “theater of the mind.” This seemingly simple audio technique uses sound to encourage a listener to fill in the “gaps” of a story. So when they hear crashing waves, they picture whatever location speaks to them most. It might be Hawaii for some, or New England in the summer for others.

Overall, this doesn’t need to be hard. Talking with your audience like a real human should be the easiest thing you do--because you already do it every day. After all, you are one, right?…right??

Ready to see this in action? We partnered with Propel on a campaign aimed to drive awareness of their electrolyte water. Along the way, we learned three important tips about how to personalize an ad campaign. Take a read, here.