My client, “Brunhilde,” wanted a sales letter. She was a marketer herself, so she was very clear about what she wanted.
“Please include this paragraph,” she said firmly. “I used it in another sales letter and it works! I wrote it myself.”
When I finished the first draft, Brunhilde liked everything … except that one paragraph. “It doesn’t sound like me at all,” she said. “I’d never use those words. Why would you include them?”
Brunhilde is a good client so I removed the offending paragraph — written by her — and said nothing. I just smiled quietly and realized Brunhilde had just confirmed what I tell my clients.
Myth #1: To sound authentic you have to use your own words and write your own content. That’s why you can’t hire a copywriter.
What really happens?
Words look different on paper, compared to when we’re speaking. And our own writing looks different in a different context. Every so often I go back and read my own blog posts, surprised that I really wrote that!
My clients often say (with great surprise), “That copy you wrote — it sounds like me!”
Was I trying to capture the nuances of their speech patterns? Did I try to use their words and phrases?
Typically I do absorb the client’s persona when I write the copy. More important, people read for the message and they’re focused on themselves, not on you. When they feel you’ve connected, you come across as authentic.
Myth #2: You won’t sound “real” if you use phrases from standard copywriting manuals. I used to think this statement was true till I began applying some of these phrases myself.
Prospects appreciated the new copy. They actually thought it was more authentic than what I had written earlier!
Phrases like, “The truth is…” “The good news is…” or, “How beginners can compete with experts…” are tested by time. They sound natural no matter who says them.
But you do have to use them judiciously. What goes in between those phrases will matter even more.
Myth #3: Only heart-centered businesses need to be concerned. People like accountants can be “all business.”
Most service business owners genuinely care about their clients. They don’t want to beat up their clients with tough hype-y copy. I’ve worked with very caring lawyers and very sales-oriented healers. And they need to be authentic and “real” as well.
So how do you come across as authentic?
Tip #1: Get them to think you’re a mind-reader. When someone says, “You hit exactly on where I’m coming from,” you’ve nailed it.
A marketing coach: “You know you’re going to spend a lot more on Bright Shiny Objects you’ll never use than you will with this program — and you won’t need anything else.”
A life coach: “I was totally unmotivated. I didn’t have a reason for earning a big income. I plan to have children, but who knows when that will happen.”
An organizer: “He spent spending all morning reading emails and checking Facebook… and wondered where the day had gone and why he wasn’t making money.”
Tip #2: Be specific.
This simple step makes your copy more approachable. Replace abstract words with descriptions. It’s always tempting to talk about “taking your business to the next level” or “losing weight to look good.”
Think of painting word pictures. You’re creating a vision with your words and turning vagueness into precision. For example:
“Are you feeling frustrated because you can’t find anything on your desk”
“Thirty percent of Americans pay late fees because they just can’t find their bills when they need to pay them.”
“Are you getting tired of paying late fees because your bills get lost in your desktop clutter? Have you bought 3 new pairs of gloves this year because you thought you’d lost yours (and they turned up behind a sofa cushion)? Were you 15 minutes late to a client meeting because you misplaced your keys?”
These examples aren’t meant to be great copy because they’re top-of-mind and they’re not written for a client. They’re just illustrations of getting specific.
Tip #3: Use stories.
By definition, your own story will be unique to you. You can use stories to showcase your passion by sharing your “why.” You can write about your own clients and their successes. You can write about how you arrived where you are today.
Of course, when you tell stories for marketing, you’re doing copywriting, just as when you write headlines, bullets, and calls to action. Click here to learn more about telling your story for marketing.
And if you’d like me to work with you one-on-one to make your copy more compelling as well as authentic, let’s get together for a Marketing Action Advantage intensive. Ninety minutes will add a whole new dimension to your marketing.
Originally published at https://cathygoodwin.com on October 14, 2020.