In many languages, nouns have “genders.” Being a practical sort, I took a series of French classes in high school and college and learned that the French word for house is female and the word for castle is male. This knowledge was so very useful when I eventually visited Paris and ordered a coffee mug of wine, which caused my snobby waiter to convulse with laughter, which is apparently the rarest of Parisian sights. C’est la vie, and I digress.
I was always rotten at remembering or guessing French noun genders, so I just slurred my speech as if I had consumed several mugs of le/la vin in order to avoid detection. But I can guess with about 80-90% accuracy the gender of an English-language writer. When you learn to do the same, you can use the habits of both to your advantage – whether you’re a copywriter or not. Here are just two of the tell-tale signs:
Love is great
Women love the word love — and not just when talking about puppies and babies. They love auto parts and certain brands of cereal. They love research data and office supplies.
Men think all of these things are great. They think the auto parts are great, and they think that is a great brand of cereal. Many of them have even been known to think puppies and babies are great.
Men and women agree. But the words they tend to use to describe positive emotions are different. A good copywriter knows the words that persuade them also are different. What works best for your audience?
They’re going to try
A woman writes, “We are going to try to open the doors next week.” She wants to communicate a sense of collaboration and process. However, she may unintentionally convey a lack of confidence.
Maybe Yoda caused this (“There is no try, only do.”), but a man rarely admits in writing to trying to do anything. A man says, “We will open the doors next week.” He might be unintentional in making a firm commitment, but it makes everyone feel sure it’s going to happen and they bet the grocery money. If he misses the target, he may not understand why people are upset.
Men and women try. Men and women open doors. What’s the most precise phrase that communicates what you’re doing?
No matter who you are, there’s a time to write with words preferred by women and a time to write with words preferred by men. There’s even a time to send me scolding emails for stereotyping women, men and French waiters. I hope that’s not today.