How to be a professional normal person

If you’re ever in London and craving great Indian food, you’re in the right city. Among the thousands of highly-rated eateries, it’s difficult to make a choice. The “home of South Asian food”, Drummond Street is the restaurant row for Indian and Bangladeshi cuisine. Cafe owners standing on crowded sidewalks compete for the attention of hungry tourists with promises of an unforgettable dining experience. 

However, sometimes I’m drawn to the restaurant that isn’t trying to lure me in, perhaps reasoning that the best ones don’t have to convince me.

We’re professional content-consumers, hypersensitive to sales language and resistant to obvious attention-grabbers. We recognize the sales pitch and can smell the call to action a mile away. Instead, we respond favorably to messages from “regular” people–unpolished and unstructured. We turn away from aggressive persuasion and prefer to find the hidden gem or quiet corner cafe on our own. 

The unstructured message balances authenticity and directness. It specializes in verisimilitude, the quality of realistic description. Crunchy words. Crunchy ideas that provoke reactions, invite clicks, and go viral.

As professional content-producers, we can forget what it feels like to be on the other side of the screen. We’ve forgotten how to connect in the ordinary “head voice” of our audience and offer instead tone-deaf appeals that are quickly ignored. Too often big brands lead with obvious “marketing” copy, logos, and matching color palettes that look lovely but fail to stop the scroll.

In order to become “professional regular people” again, we need to listen to our audience. Once we rediscover the ordinary cadence, idioms, attitudes and lingo that people actually use, we can speak authentically and connect with them.

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