As a content marketer, I have often mused over how similar my job is to an impersonator as I am rarely using my own natural voice and writing style. Sometime back, I was working with a company selling office furniture, which required content with a cool, relaxed voice, but with a professional touch; on the other hand, one of my newer clients, a managed service provider offering cloud sharing explicitly asked me to write in a buttoned-up, sophisticated manner.
Some clients want short sentences, others want longer ones, some like flamboyant vernacular, while there are those who will laugh at it. This is the unfortunate reality of the game, and as we are usually writing for various businesses throughout the length of a day, keeping up with all the different writing styles can get mind-numbingly tedious!
Thankfully though, my musings weren’t a (complete) waste of time and they did lead me to an interesting epiphany. As it turns out, there are many things a content marketer can learn from a mimicry artist.
A little research on the matter also revealed a study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology which found that negotiators who mimic their counterpart’s language online achieved 30% better results than those who don’t, so I was definitely onto something!
Now, some people say you must be gifted to impersonate, and that is true to an extent. But even if you cannot pull off a Tom Cruise impression like this guy, using mimicry in your content marketing efforts is thankfully a whole lot easier.
Here’s what you need to do…
Step 1: Determine who you want to impersonate
Your first order of business should be to visualize who you are going to impersonate. Try to create an avatar of your ideal reader. Give him or her a name. What’s that you said? How the bleep do I create ONE avatar of an entire audience? I hear you! But believe me it’s actually a lot easier than you think.
In every industry there are people who we in the content marketing world like to call thought leaders. These are people who always have the last laugh, and with whom silly mortals dare not cross swords! So, instead of focusing on an entire demographic and losing your mind, you can simply restrict your attention to how these people present themselves. After all, your audience is already listening to them, so they are doing something right.
Make a list of at least 5 thought leaders in your new niche along with all the mediums with which they express themselves. Do they blog or tweet? Are they hyper active on a web-board? Create a spreadsheet with their names, with links to their digital properties.
Step 2: Study them closely
Next, go through their writing for the next few days. If they have a Youtube channel, or if you can find their interviews, even better! Look closely at their language, its tone, the kind of jargon they like to throw, pictures that accompany their posts, how they respond to comments, etc.
Most importantly, get a feel of the sort of person the writing portrays. Do they seem cynical, knowledgeable but humble, sarcastic and witty, confrontational, laid back?
Now ask yourself which one of these you like the most and won’t mind following? Choose one. By focusing on one thought leader you will narrow down on an avatar which you are most comfortable with, and one which is closest to your own personality.
Step 3: Practice looking like them
Once you have an avatar down, it’s time to turn this passive exercise into an active one! Take a few examples of your authority figure’s work, and copy them down into notepad, or whatever word editing software you like. Pen and paper will also work. Do this at least 5-10 times, the more the better. You do not have to copy entire articles though; even paragraphs from posts will suffice.
This may seem like a chore, but believe me there is no recourse here; practice makes perfect after all. Mimicry artists impersonate their favorite celebrities thousands of times in front of a mirror before they are applauded with standing ovations. Likewise, if you want to be seen as an authority by your new audience, you too should practice writing in your chosen figure’s style as much as possible. You will also be hit by at least a few new revelations about their approach when you do this.
Step 4: Add in your own twist!
Now, that you have a fair idea about how to approach your new audience, sprinkle your own writing quirks throughout the content you create. This way it remains unique and fresh, while speaking to the audience in a manner they enjoy listening to. We don’t want to act like a wannabe after all!
Remember! You can only become good at this if you do it consistently. Putting yourself in mimic-mode will help you muster the mental resources needed to copy over those subtle traits into your own behavioral inventory, and help you score with your new readers right off the bat.
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