Why It's So Hard to Write Your Own Copy
It was a Thursday morning and I was scrolling aimlessly through my Facebook feed. I don’t like Facebook that much and few of my clients have come from that platform, but for some reason I still open up the app multiple times a day convinced it will be worthy of my time.
On this particular day my scrolling came to a halt when I saw a fellow business owner pose a question to a private group I’m part of.
This isn’t an extraordinary occurrence. I see people posting on this platform all the time requesting feedback on their business ideas or asking for business owners to chime on some “market research” they’re doing.
But this one was different.
The group this was posted in was full of business owners who have been trained in how to write effective copy and grow their online business. They know how to speak their clients’ language and sell on consult calls. Yet several chimed in when asked:
When it comes to communicating how great you are at what you do, where do you struggle most?
THE STRUGGLE TO COMMUNICATE VALUE
The members of this group—all entrepreneurs at least one year in—explained their struggles like this:
Finding the right words to describe what my ideal clients will understand.
Sales copy: making sure I’m not putting in too much or leaving out elements like the clients’ words.
Sales copy. It feels so important that it overwhelms me.
Sales page: long or short?
Taking their words and selling my stuff.
I don’t know if I’m really getting people excited.
If this group was struggling with copy it’s not surprise most entrepreneurs are stumped at how to convey their value through their words.
But what’s more interesting about this specific exchange is most of these responses boiled down to one thing - uncertainty about what clients need to hear to be compelled to buy.
SOUNDING LIKE AN EXPERT
I spent a decade working in an academic setting where value was associated with technical writing that only highly trained practitioners could understand. The more jargon-laden, the better.
I witnessed researchers speaking in acronyms and research terms. They existed in this bubble until it was time to request funding. And then they were stumped.
My colleagues had a hard time making the case because they couldn’t imagine that their audience wouldn’t understand the language they were speaking. They held tight to their colloquialisms reasoning that if they compromised on how they explained their work, it would be perceived as less valuable.
The problem that they didn’t realize is that no one understood their concepts as well as they did. Because they didn’t understand it, they didn’t value it. And funding opportunities were lost, one by one.
THE CURSE OF KNOWLEDGE
As a communications strategist, it was around this time I started to explore why people have such a hard time talking about the very things they’re experts in. This is when I first learned about the curse of knowledge.
At its core, this concept posits that we naturally communicate assuming everyone knows what we know and that they have the background to understand what we’re talking about.
Once we know something, it’s nearly impossible for us to imagine what it’s like not to know it.
That’s why it’s hard for us to sell something that comes easy to us or value (and price) our services in the same way that our clients do. We forget that the things that come easy to us don’t come just as easy to everyone else.
The more we know about something and the better we get at doing it, the further we get from relating to our customers.
Why does this matter, you ask.
As we become more steeped in knowledge, we speak like experts. This confuses our audience, fails to capture their attention, and hinders connection.
HOW TO CREATE COPY THAT RESONATES
The number one way to write effective sales and marketing copy is to outsource it. Of course I would say that. I’m a copywriter! But the perspective you gain from explaining your work, approach, and outcomes to someone else and having them mirror that back to you is life-changing.
If you aren’t in the position hire a copywriter, here are some tips to follow:
Speak in specifics, not theory. Give examples and help customers understand why your services matter, not just why your approach or process is the best.
Review your copy constantly asking yourself, “Is this something my ideal client would say?” If not, find a different way to say it.
Ask, don’t assume! If you wonder what’s so valuable about working with you, ask your clients. Hearing their perspective will shift your own.
Share your work before you publish. You can’t be your own editor and getting feedback on your work is the best way to make sure your message is landing.
What do you struggle with writing your own copy? Is it the act of writing itself or is it the doubt that creeps in?