The other day I decided to fall asleep to a movie entitled, Confessions of a Shopaholic. Perhaps you have heard of it or maybe even seen it. The film is based off the novel from Sophie Kinsella and is a romantic comedy that stars Isla Fisher. Fisher’s character, Rebecca Bloomwood is a writer that is struggling with debt due to her serious shopping addiction. More than anything Rebecca wants to write for the top fashion magazine, Alette.
Early on in the film Rebecca loses her job (conveniently) and decides she is going to interview at Alette. On her way to the interview, Rebecca indulges in her shopping addiction and stops at a designer store to buy an expensive green scarf that she can’t pay for. When her credit card is declined, she frantically rushes outside the store to write a check at a hot dog stand in exchange for cash. Rebecca tells the hot dog stand owner that she needs the money to pay for a scarf as a gift for her sick aunt. Huge lie. A gentleman standing in line happens to hand her the $23 she needs to pay for the rest of the scarf. Of course because it’s a movie, Rebecca will encounter this man again later.
Rebecca learns that the position at Alette has been filled and is devastated. However, if she wants to work at Alette she can get her foot in the door by starting at the financial magazine, Successful Savings, that just so happens to be owned by the same fashion magazine. So Rebecca gets an interview at Successful Savings with the same man who happened to give her the $23 for the scarf. Long story short, Rebecca lands a writing position at Successful Savings. Of course the ironic part is that Rebecca is drowning in debt. How can she give financial advice? She doesn’t know the first thing about her own finances. During her first day on the job at Successful Savings, she somehow manages to write her first article and it becomes a nationwide sensation.
In the film, we unfortunately only get to hear a small portion of her article. You are to believe that she has written something incredible, especially if her article went viral overnight. Rebecca’s article said something like this:
“Your store card is like a 50 percent-off cashmere coat. The first time you meet, it promises to be your best friend. Until you look closely and realize it’s not real cashmere.
“Then, as winter comes, you discover that your coat isn’t actually a friend at all. You should have read the fine print. You should look more closely what you’re getting into.”
Rebecca wished to remain anonymous as a writer at Successful Savings and labeled herself as “The Girl in the Green Scarf.” The reason her article was such a success was because of the language she used to describe financing (more specifically: the effect of changing interest rate on a store card APRs). Her article was worded in a way that anyone could understand. Of course she used her shopping addiction as a metaphor in the article.
So why am I talking about this film? I’m looking at it from a different perspective, from a business and writing perspective. Rebecca used a metaphor based off of her personal experience to write her piece. As a journalist, she knew that a metaphor could be a teaching moment. My guess is she probably knew she wasn’t the only person who didn’t understand the subject matter. And what better way to describe something than using your own personal experience?
Whether you are writing a blog or working on a marketing campaign, you have to think about your audience. If you are trying to spark interest with your audience, you have to know who they are first. What can you say that will resonate with your audience? Are you speaking their language? Once you know who you are writing for and what they need, it becomes much easier.
Rebecca’s article (from what we understand) was real, relatable and personal. I think being able to humanize your content for your audience is important. If you are unable to articulate something, try a different approach such as including stories or personal experiences. Finances aren’t the most exciting topic nor are they easy to understand for everyone, yet Rebecca was able to convey the topic in a personal way. She had a voice! I believe it was her voice that truly made her become known as the Girl in the Green Scarf. A voice is what gave her followers. She used a unique approach that set her apart from other columnists in the industry. So what can we learn from Rebecca Bloomwood?
While Rebecca didn’t exactly understand the technical terminology for the industry, she was able to use language that her audience understood. Simple explanations and analogies. She may struggled with her own finances, but it was her internal struggle and problems that made her readers truly understand the topic.
Here are some things to consider when writing for your audience:
- How well do you know your audience?
- Are you fulfilling your audience’s needs? How will they benefit from your information and knowledge of the subject matter?
- Is your subject interesting? (If not, how could you make it interesting based on what you know about your audience?)
- Are you telling stories and including experience? Photographs? Surveys/quizzes? Videos? Examples?
- Are you speaking the language of your audience?
- If your audience is a room full of lawyers, you probably should use different terminology and explanations than if you were talking to a room full of high school students.
- Is your content personal? Would you describe it as real and relatable?
- Do you have a voice?
- Does your content express a personality, style or point of view?
When you have a voice, your content is able to keep your audience engaged, it creates and builds a following, which is ultimately what makes you successful. Just because Rebecca chose to remain anonymous, still allowed her to have a voice. A voice that resonated with people. Don’t be afraid to find your voice. It’s in there, it just may take some time, research, and a splash of creativity.