There’s one answer to my most popular questions: “Because your mother isn’t your copywriter.” So in honor of Mother’s Day, here are some reasons your mom is not your copywriter (and a good copywriter won’t be your mom).
Note: This post does assume a positive, light-hearted role for mothers, for the sake of artistic license. 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 hopefully realize they just don’t have the experience or qualifications to give you meaningful feedback. They provide encouragement.
— Even if they realize your copy seems weak, they often don’t know why. It’s like the time you changed your lipstick and your date sie, “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’re always telling me to Beware the Adjective Menace. But I just saw a Call to Action: “‘Click here to get 9 brilliant ideas that will save your business!’.”
Do you find yourself thinking 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?”
Prospective clients are asking themselves, “Is this for real?” They’re rarely impressed when you describe your products or services as “amazing.”
Instead, follow the solid 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.
BTW, Episode 30 of the Strategic Storytelling podcast covers the topic of branding by quirks – any why I don’t recommend branding as a renegade or maverick. Listen on Apple, Spotify or your favorite platform.
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. A world with paper newspapers, 3 channels on television, and an airplane flight that didn’t feel like a sardine can.
You’ll also hear the downsides: stereotyped roles that assigned women to the kitchen and denied men opportunities to show emotion.
When you were very 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.
Business stories can be very different from personal stories (For more, I just published Episode 60 of my podcast – on Apple, Spotify and your favorite platform.
Certain stories will be especially powerful for achieving brand clarity and ending fuzzy brand syndrome. You can download your free guide here.
When your copywriter isn’t your mom, you get results! Click here for my free guide – 3 Big Ways A Copywriter Can Grow Your Small Business.
If you want to become a copywriter yourself, click here to learn more. This affordable course includes a guide to honing your craft as well as marketing your services — all in one accessible on-demand package.
Connie Ragen Green says
Excellent analogy, Cathy. You are both brilliant and beautiful and I am not your mom. And you love and respect animals, which puts you on an even higher pedestal in my book. Oh, and your copywriting is second to none. I am your biggest fan, but not in a Kathy Bates kind of way.
~ Connie Ragen Green
Thank you so much! I’m a big fan of yours too … not in a Kathy Bates Way! (Can’t be your biggest, you have too many!)
Rosemary Sneeringer says
That was fun to read and I learned a lot at the same time. Thanks!
Oscar Halpert says
Well put, Cathy! Mom loves your features (well, many of them, anyway.) Your clients don’t care about your features; they just think “What’s In It For Me?”
Thanks, Sheila! I “see” you around too and appreciate your stopping by for a comment.
Sheila Galligan www.gobig2day.com says
Cathy, I love your humor and style! We are in some FB groups together and I “see” you all over the place – Fun Stuff!
Thanks for sharing, Sheila