Do you write for readers in your own country, or for the
world at large?
You have TARGETED your potential customers haven't you?
I don't intend going into this extremely important topic on
this page. I will say however that if you haven't put in the
effort to find out WHO your potential customers ARE then
most of your copywriting efforts will be wasted.
Getting back to my opening comment.....
I live in the UK and most of us here think that English is a
Right - and Wrong!
American English for instance is a lot different to English
English. Much more than many people realize.
And Canadian English is in some cases, closer to English
English than to American English.
Australian English is, I believe, very close to New Zealand
And they are both almost as English as English English.
What AM I talking about?
Gibberish English probably!
Just Be Careful.
I spend a lot of time on the telephone to clients and
friends I have made in the USA and in Canada. And in just
about EVERY conversation I have there is a misunderstanding
caused by the language.
The other day I used the word *Fortnight* to someone in
New York. It's an everyday word - not slang - used in the
UK meaning *two weeks*. But she didn't understand me.
So if I were to say to you that my newsletter 'The
Copywriters' Digest' will be published every Fortnight
instead of weekly, some of you would not have understood.
A friend in Canada said *Dumber-down* to me. I had to ask
for a translation.
In fact I have to admit that in nearly every transatlantic
conversation I have, I find myself constantly asking whether
they understand me.
But you can't ask your readers that in your copy!
Queen Victoria must be turning in her grave! I'm BRITISH for
heaven's sake! Why should I have to justify my use of the
Queen's English to FOREIGNERS? Don't they realize that we
used to rule half the world?
And if that's YOUR attitude toward your readers, regardless
of your country of origin, you're in trouble. Big trouble.
I know of a very popular UK Internet marketer who clearly
states on his Website that he uses the QUEEN'S ENGLISH
(English English) Yet he has also mentioned in his
Newsletters that only 3% of his customers live in the UK!
He has a great site and an even better newsletter. But I
think his policy is a mistake. The glorious days of the
British Empire are, quite rightly, long gone.
And if you are American, don't assume that your foreign
readers are as familiar with the American way of life as you
are. They have a mouse and they'll use it.
You're Customers' Must Come First
English spelling is different. And I use American spelling
on the Internet for a good reason - though sometimes I do
slip up. (There I go Justifying again!)
It's because English people in the main can identify COLOR
And CENTER as CENTRE.....
But I find that many Americans' regard HUMOUR as a typo. And
that reflects on my credibility as a professional writer.
And TYPO isn't a widely used word outside of North America.
So if you live outside the USA and you're potential target
is Americans, I think it makes sense for you to use American
spelling don't you?
But it's the WORDS we use that can cause problems.
Especially on the 'Net where we deliberately write in a
For instance, references to national politicians or football
stars are totally meaningless to us foreigners.
A BANG in the UK is a loud noise. In North America it can
mean something entirely different
If you pat someone on the FANNY in the US it may be regarded
as a friendly gesture. In the UK it means touching someone
on a much more intimate part of the female anatomy. And a
possible jail sentence!
We All Like A Joke But....
Humor is vastly different from country to country.
And the vast majority of American humour - sorry humor - on
the Web goes straight over the heads of non US citizens.
And I don't just mean people in the UK.
There are millions of English speaking people around the
world using the Internet. And their numbers are growing at
an explosive rate.
And millions of them learn ENGLISH English
So if your target market includes people outside the USA
make sure EVERY ONE of your readers can understand you.
Even if it's only 5% that's a potential 5% of your market
that could be missed!
Let's face it. I think you would find it worthwhile if ANY
simple exercise increased your traffic by that amount!
Copyright 2003 by Joe Robson * All rights reserved
Joe Robson is co-author of 'Make Your Words SELL' with Ken
Evoy. Joe and Tom Glander own The Newbie Club which is
bulging with unique NET and PC Newbie tutorials and eBooks.
CLICK ON OVER to http://newbieclub.com/ and look at their
very professional Affiliate Program. It's BIG! Joe's
Copywriting site is at http://www.adcopywriting.com
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