How writing about yourself and your business is pointless – Write instead about what matters to your client

How writing about yourself and your business is pointless.

How writing about yourself and your business is pointless – Write instead about what matters to your client

How writing about yourself and your business is pointless.

My daughter Hannah would make a great copywriter.

What’s that? “How do I know?”? Well, that’s obvious. It’s in the genes!

But seriously – it’s true. Hannah shows all the right instincts. Let me present the evidence.

I’d like to take you back three years. It was a balmy summer Sunday afternoon. Hannah and her husband Nick popped round unannounced, each wearing big, wide, excited smiles. (Just one look was enough to know why they were bursting to break their happy news). They didn’t even try to contain themselves.

The kettle had barely been switched on before they piped with – “You’ll never guess what! You’re going to be grandparents!”

This was, of course, wonderful news and how right they were to be excited. Young Ted, now approaching his second birthday, is a fantastic testament to their justifiable ebulliance. But – what has any of this to do with Hannah’s innate abilities as a copywriter?

Well – here’s what she could have said –

“We’re so excited! We’re having a baby!”

But she didn’t – and here’s the point (well actually – there are two) – Hannah was instinctively thinking, not about herself and what the news meant to her and Nick. No. Her consideration was the impact and the effect that the happy event would have on us, her audience.

You don’t matter. Your client does.

Here’s another instance from an email newsletter that plopped into my inbox just the other day. It opened with –

Hi Stephen – I’m thrilled to tell you about our new VOIP XXX400 system, available for as little as £12.99 per month.”

There’s a marketing secret that Hannah understands so acutely (though she doesn’t realise it), but the writer of the newsletter doesn’t. This is the secret.

I’ll whisper in your ear very quietly.

Your … customers … don’t … care … two … hoots … about … how … you … feel – whether you’re excited, thrilled, cock-a-hoop. After all – why should they care?

This is tough to take I know – but it’s true. Your clients don’t particularly want to know about how it works. Some of them don’t even want to know much about what it does.

What your potential clients want to know is – how will your offering benefit them.

To engage effectively with our customers is about empathy, about putting ourselves in their shoes – about thinking and writing about how they might feel about our services and products.

That opening email line could read instead –

“How much are you paying for your VOIP system? Well, we’ve just launched the all-new XXX400, which could save you £££s every month!”

You see? We’re advising our customers about the benefits that our new system will bring to them and their business.

Who’s it to?

So – we’ve established that we should be writing about our potential client and not about ourselves. But – who is this client? And does it matter?

Every other Saturday afternoon, around this time of year, I cut a sad and, it must be said, somewhat pathetic figure. You’ll find me wasting the best part of two hours, slumped awkwardly in a cracked plastic seat, a faded shade of pink (that’s the seat and me). Raindrops drip down the back of my neck, and I shiver.

The purpose of this unedifying occupation?

To indulge a childhood habit of proffering my support to the somewhat less-than-mighty Northampton Town (aka The Cobblers) football team, as they labour to avoid yet another morale-sapping defeat.
But I’m not quite alone. I enjoy the company of a smattering of similarly hapless individuals, as we sit in morose camaraderie, savouring the bitter taste of inevitable sporting humiliation.

Each week, I’m struck by a repeated wail from one of my fellow supporters. Our so-called star player slides yet another misdirected pass a metre and a half wide of its intended target. My fellow spectator cries out in despair – “Who’s it to?”

No answer is ever forthcoming. This most pertinent of questions hangs unrequited in the heavy, sodden, February air. But his question is a good one – and not just for the football field. As we sit down to compose our web copy, our blog, our email or our sales letter, we should ask ourselves “Who’s it to?” Then, having answered the question – we can start writing, pausing every few minutes to check up on ourselves. We must keep thinking …

… thinking about our chosen audience – about their world, their needs. Writing to them in their language, explaining how our service or product will satisfy those needs. We need to show them how we can make their lives a little better.

Our readers will thank us for this courtesy.

They really will.

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