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 , here are some reasons your mom is not your copywriter.
Note: This post does assume a traditional, positive role for mothers, for the sake of artistic license and making some points. We honor you whether you enjoyed a supportive mom, lost your mom early, or had negative experiences with family and motherhood.
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 my 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) won’t 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.
— Even if they realize your copy seems weak, they often don’t know why. It’s like you change your lipstick and your date says, “You look different – is it your hair?” (Or if you’re a male, 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 to do this (and it’s more than 15 minutes, trust me!)?
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.”
That should remind you of someone who’s determined to show off photos of all their 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, you’ll be more effective when you avoid describing yourself with adjectives (such as “amazing”) and describing your actions with adverbs (such as “brilliantly”). Instead, follow the traditional copywriting maxim, “Show, don’t tell.” Use stories, examples, case studies and metaphors.
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 redhead 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.
Reason #3: “Let me tell you a story…”
Even when you’re an adult, you might sit up and listen when your mom offers to tell a story about herself, especially her own childhood.
If you’re lucky, you’ll get a window into another era: a world before cellphones, when people read paper newspapers and watched television, when you could get on an airplane without seeing a single security guard.
You’ll also hear the downsides: stereotyped roles that assigned women to the kitchen and denied men opportunities to show emotion.
When you were young, your mom probably told you bedtime stories and fairy tales.
But copywriters who understand the psychology of storytelling do not encourage small businesses to share those stories. Instead, you’ll get more mileage from telling certain types of stories, geared toward your marketing goals and your purpose.
Certain stories will be especially powerful for achieving brand clarity and ending fuzzy brand syndrome. You can download your free guide here.
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.
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