Why you should stop patronising readers if you want them to become customers


Stop me if you’ve heard this one before; ‘In today’s rapidly changing business world, IT leaders are under greater pressure than ever to deliver more reliable, agile, secure and mobile services to their users whilst having less time, fewer resources and smaller budgets…’ Now select the response you feel is most fitting below:

  1. Hmmm, sounds suspiciously familiar
  2. It’s a bit corny, but I can relate to it
  3. Is completely meaningless, you could be talking about anything!
  4. If I wrote this, I would be ashamed.
  5. Hey! Have you been stealing my work!
  6. I love it, where can I get me some?

As awful and generic as it is, the majority of technology businesses still populate their online and offline content with it (or something suspiciously similar). Does anyone truly believe such a statement is what a customer is searching for?

Ok, why is it so terrible? As a potential customer, you have told me nothing I don’t already know. In fact, I am actually the living embodiment of that nightmare you’ve described. It’s the reason I am on your site; looking for answers, not a patronising, meaningless dialog on something I am actually acutely aware of! Great start! So far I feel insulted, bored and disconnected.

In the B2B world, visitors rarely come to your site by accident. They are there for a reason – usually to satisfy a need, learn something new or find information that will help them. Never do they visit to be condescended to. It’s human nature to abhor being spoken down to or belittled. Where in any business marketing or sales manual does it say ‘treat them like morons and the tills will start ringing’? Have you ever considered how many customers your words and messages are actually turning away?

Writing good, engaging content is hard work. It requires thought, insight and in many situations, empathy. It’s not something that can be easily done by committee, where the copy does ‘the rounds’ with each new reviewer either removing or adding something extra ‘because it sounds right’. Your messages may not always be original or particularly exciting, but if they make sense and directly help your visitor find what they’re looking for, then you will have succeeded in your task.

Here’re a few things to consider when creating your copy:

  • Who are you’re speaking to?
  • What and who are they responsible for?
  • What are their common or specific problems?
  • What are their business influences or areas of interest?
  • How do they like to consume their information – words, images, statistics, lists?
  • How do you want them to act on your ideas and commentary?

When you write, communicate about specific things and try to avoid generalisations. Tell your audience something of value and don’t alienate them. Engage them around something that they didn’t know but should, or maybe did know, but didn’t quite see it from the right perspective to their present situation. If you do this you will not only get their attention, they will also be more inclined to read on.

Agree / disagree? Speak up!