I’ll bet you’ve never lost sleep wondering why Mother Goose didn’t write Shakespeare’s plays or why Shakespeare didn’t write rhymes for children.
But, aside from the differences in talent, the simple answer is they were writing for completely different markets.
William Shakespeare was writing for the English theater of the late 16th and early 17th centuries. His audience was primary adults. The fictitious Mother Goose, on the other hand, wrote nursery rhymes and stories (depending upon the account you read) by a number of different authors about the same time period in England or Boston. Her primary audience was children or, perhaps more accurately, parents who would read them to their children.
They had distinctly different audiences, wrote in distinctly different styles, and while they both wrote in English, used entirely different vocabulary, which is as it should be. Neither attempted to write for the other’s audience or market. Obviously “King Lear” will never be confused with “Puss in Boots.”
When you are writing copy for business – promotions, letters, flyers, websites, and other documents – you must have a mental image and knowledge of your audience and market. To engage the audience, the writer must speak to readers using familiar language, style, syntax and vocabulary.
Picture your readers. Consider their various attributes – gender, age, education level, profession, state of mind when they read – concentrated like an attorney reading a contract, curious like a student attempting to grasp a concept, inquisitive as a purchasing agent trying to discover the best solution for a given situation or recreational like someone reading a romantic novel at the beach. Your manner of writing must be in synch with the reader’s mindset, needs and desires.
If you get it right, your reader will be able to comprehend your writing and if further action is needed, be able to act on it. If you get it wrong, your reader might be wondering whether you are writing for a child or if something really is “rotten in the state of Denmark.”
Don’t confuse your readers. Know them. Write directly for them.