I’ve been writing content, propositions and proposals for well over a decade. These days, I like to believe I’m pretty good at it. I’d like to tell you that it’s because I’ve carefully honed my word-smithing through years of ever improving experiences. Only that would be a lie. In fact, most of my written contribution to my industry has been almost identical to what all of my peers have been doing – regurgitating the same well-trodden cliches and storylines with just enough variation to pass it off as original work.
Then I had an epiphany. I actually sat down and read my work (and those of others too) as if I were a real customer, asking ‘would I really buy this with my money?’ ‘do I care what they are saying?’ ‘am I genuinely interested?’ ‘are you really speaking to me?’.
I was both amazed and ashamed. I’d struck out on all counts, but at least I wasn’t alone – everyone else was doing the same thing too. I realised I had to do something about it and set to reading as much opinion and advice as I could find. And boy there’s a lot of so called ‘advice’ out there! It’s all valid to a point, but I think I can summarise most of it with this simple rule of thumb:
For every sentence you write, read it back to yourself and ask: ‘So what? Does it matter or is it necessary?’
As a prospective customer, I want you to convince me to buy from you. I want to read about things that matter to me, that I need to resolve and with your offer, do better by. I don’t care about anything else. I don’t want to be told what I already know, nor do I care about how good your company is. In that moment of reading, it’s only about what’s in it for me and those I represent.
They say the average site visit can be anything between 3 and 15 seconds before the visitor loses interest. So in that very short time, your message really does have to pack a punch and tell a fast story that’s very different and more compelling than everyone else’s.
So please, the very next time you create your customer content, re-read it and after every sentence ask yourself ‘so what?’. If it’s not going to make your reader any more likely to buy from you, do you really need it?
Agree? Disagree? Speak up…