The Copy Clinic: Should I swear in my marketing?
Struggling with writing for your business? Whether it’s website worries, posting panic, or email errors, send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and let our resident wordsmith clear up your copy conundrums!
“I want to be authentic when I write about my business, especially on social media, and I’m quite happy being fairly informal – but how far should I go? For example, is it OK swear in my marketing or on my social posts?!”
Well, I feel like the first thing it’s important to say is that the idea of whether or not it’s ‘ok’ to do something – or not do something – in your marketing isn’t a particularly helpful one. And I want to set you free from it! Because the answer is that absolutely anything is ok in your marketing because it’s yours. You can say whatever you like about your business in any way you want. Hooray for free speech.
So the question isn’t about whether it’s ok to swear in your marketing – it’s about whether it would be beneficial to your business or not.
And, as you might expect, my answer is that it depends. Some brands use swearing to brilliant effect (Thug Kitchen, Dollar Shave Club, VinoMofo, and Paddy Power are great examples) while others have tried it and completely missed the mark. The key is to figure out which camp your business falls into. So here’s three sets of questions to help you do that…
You’re always writing for a reason – to inform people, to inspire them, to persuade them, etc. So ask yourself if swearing in a particular piece of marketing will help you achieve your goal or get in the way of it? Does it make your message clearer, funnier, more relevant, more memorable – or are you shoehorning in a dirty word just for the sake of it?
One of the best ways to connect with people is to use the same kind of language as they do. So are your audience the sweary type? And, if they are, are they more of an ‘oh crap’ kind of crowd or are they at the Gordon Ramsey end of the scale? At the end of the day, they’re the people you’re trying to engage, so thinking about what language they’ll respond to is key.
This is the biggie for me. You have to ask yourself if swearing fits with the overall personality of your business and stays true to your voice. If it’s naturally something you do in everyday life and work, then it’s definitely worth considering making it part of your marketing. Whereas if it’s just something you’d like to be able to do because it seems edgy, it will probably feel inauthentic.
So, to swear or not to swear? Only you can decide!
Bethany Joy works with small businesses to help them find a writing style and voice that reflects their passion and personality, as well as creating gettable and irresistible copy for their marketing materials. You can find out more about her at bethanyjoy.org
We also partner with Beth to run regular workshops that empower independent businesses to write more clearly and confidently about what they have to offer – you can keep an eye out for those in our events calendar.