Recently I got some questions that could be answered the same way, “Because your mother isn’t your copywriter.” So in honor of Mother’s Day …
Reason #1: “It’s just fine, honey. Now … you are going to be here for dinner next week, aren’t you?”
Clients often begin a consultation with, “Cathy, I’ve already shown your website to six friends, my mastermind group, my spouse and even my mom! They say the copy is fine.”
Before you say, “Oh come on, Cathy, nobody does that!” let me tell you about a client I worked with a few years ago. He was a licensed accountant who wanted a new website to develop his online presence. Since he had hired me for a full service copywriting project, we also reviewed his strategy and some of his other marketing materials.
In particular, I recommended some changes to the design of his brochure. He laughed. “I’d love to implement these recommendations,” he said. “But my wife designed this brochure. I value my marriage.”
Well, he’s got his priorities straight. And he’s not unusual. It’s just one reason I recommend separating your personal life from your business, so you won’t risk losing one or the other.
Let’s face it …
— Your friends and family don’t want to hurt your feelings. Your mastermind group (and sometimes, alas, your coach) doesn’t want to deal with the consequences of saying, “I hate it.”
— Your friends and family may not know how to evaluate what you’re doing. They just don’t have the experience or qualifications. (In the example above, that guy’s wife had taken one marketing course in college. I’ve taught many of those courses myself, back in the day, and I can tell you they do not equip students to evaluate online marketing materials.)
— Even if they realize your materials don’t resonate, they often don’t know why, and they are rarely experienced in articulating what’s wrong. It’s like you change your lipstick and your date says, “You look different – is it your hair?” (Or if you’re a dude, you’ve shaved your mustache and your date says, “New shirt?”)
— There’s an unwritten rule in business: “Don’t just tell me what’s wrong. Tell me how to fix it.” If you’re not getting paid, will you spend the time (and it’s more than 15 minutes, trust me!)? Unless you’re doing this every day, it takes a while to come up with the guidance.
Reason #2: “Of course he’s brilliant: he’s mine!”
My clients often raise questions like this:
“Cathy, you are telling me to brag. But I just saw a Call to Action: “‘Click here to get 9 brilliant ideas that will save your business!’ That’s a turn-off.”
Comments like that remind me of sitting next to someone who’s determined to show me photos of all her kids, with a running commentary.
“This is my Mario. He’s so intelligent.”
“This is Rose: isn’t she beautiful?”
Whether you promote yourself as a professional or your products, I don’t recommend describing yourself with adjectives (such as “amazing”) and describing your actions with adverbs (such as “brilliantly”). The key to successful online bragging is, “Show, don’t tell.” Use stories, examples, case studies and metaphors.
Reason #3: “You’re really special.”
Another mom-trap involves branding yourself on a quality that doesn’t communicate a benefit to your prospects.
Your mom thinks of you as “the red head in the family” or “the quirky one.” But your clients (hopefully) aren’t hiring you because you have red hair or because you are quirky. These branding styles turn the focus to you, not the benefits they’ll get from your new, improved marketing.
Your mom, your friends, some of your colleagues and occasionally your coach will relish your unique personal qualities … and that’s why they’re not the best candidates for serving as your copywriter. You can (and should) bring your personality into your copy. But, as with the stories you tell, the personal qualities you share should support and reinforce your brand position.
Would you like me to be your copywriter instead of your mother?
If you’d like me to be your copywriter instead of your mother, let’s get started with a consultation.
If you want to become a copywriter yourself, click here to learn more.
If you’re ready to be your own best copywriter, I’ve created this 21-point checklist for a copy makeover to increase conversions. Download here!