Caitlin really is a very good little girl. But she’s two-and-a-half years old and has her moments.
When Caitlin cops a toddler ‘tude, my wife and I always make her say she’s sorry, and what she’s sorry for, so she knows what she did wrong – at least for the next 30 seconds or so. This is how part of a recent exchange went between my wife and daughter:
Mommy: Caitlin, say you’re sorry.
Caitlin: I’m sorry.
Caitlin: Five, six, seven, eight…
The dad in me wanted to laugh out loud and add this to the list of classic kid quotes. The smart ass in me wanted to give Caitlin a high five. The copywriter in me had flashbacks and wanted to bang my head against the wall.
Just because you know what you’re trying to say with your marketing message, don’t assume your audience knows.
Here’s an embarrassing example. I learned the hard way that I can’t just tell people I’m a copywriter without explaining what that means, at least in very basic terms.
If I just say I’m a copywriter, some people will think that means I’m the guy who puts a “©” on copyright material. Then they start asking me legal questions. It’s an honest misunderstanding, but by the time I’ve cleared things up, we both feel awkward and a little stupid.
Yes, this actually happened a few times. Fortunately, the source of miscommunication in this case was painfully clear and easily corrected. Usually, it’s more complicated.
If you’re not communicating effectively on your website, blogs, social pages and other marketing pieces, you may not even realize it – until a potential client points it out.
During the past couple of months, I remember at least two instances when I said, “Will you please explain what your business does? Please don’t take this the wrong way, but I went to your website and I’m still not sure about what you do.”
This is a major fail, mostly because these business owners are probably leaving money on the table.
How does this happen? Your content reads like Shakespeare and makes perfect sense to you, so how can it possibly leave a potential client with more questions than answers? How can they not be following along?
Maybe you tried to be too clever and the real substance of your message got lost.
Maybe your content sounds like a presentation to colleagues at an industry conference instead of a conversation with someone who’s being introduced to your business for the first time.
Maybe you assumed everyone knows certain facts about your business or industry, so you didn’t explain them adequately.
Maybe your content is poorly written and you just don’t see it.
How do you make sure your marketing message is being delivered clearly and powerfully? Here are four simple tips to avoid the most common pitfalls:
- Be direct and straightforward. Creativity should only be used to enhance and reinforce your message. Otherwise, it’s just a distraction and a potential source of confusion.
- Speak the language of your target audience, not your industry. Write like you would speak in a real conversation, not a keynote address.
- Take nothing for granted and make no assumptions. You can be very thorough and concise at the same time.
- Enlist the help of a professional writer who knows how to put sound marketing strategy behind the words. A good copywriter (not copyrighter) who has no attachment to your business will give you a brutally honest evaluation and improve your content clarity from the point of view of your target audience.
Do you have to speak to your audience like they’re all two years old? Of course not. But if people who read your content don’t get the message, there won’t be anything cute or funny about it.
Take a good hard look at your marketing content. Is it easy for your target audience to understand?