Don't make this deadly mistake when writing for your prospects

When I start working with a new client on their website copy, a blog, and especially a sales page, one of the first things I ask is,

“What are the problems your clients come to you with?”

Sometimes my copywriting clients give me answers that sound very professional and polished. They've definitely done some homework.

To which I usually respond,

“Good. Now tell me, are those the EXACT words your clients use?”


Most often they’re silent after I ask this. They need to think about it. Like any habit, listening for and using your target client’s language is something that takes practice. And it’s totally understandable that if you haven’t thought about your copy in this way that it feels totally foreign to you.

Sometimes my clients give me a piece of copy that they say they really like and they want to work something similar into their copy.

Almost always, that copy came from an industry peer, another expert. Which brings me to my most important question for you.

“Are you writing for your target clients or are you writing to impress your peers?”

Record scratch.

Oh shit.

This happens ALL. THE. TIME. If this is you, don’t worry, you're not alone. Most of my clients come to me speaking to their peers and not their prospects. The good news is that it's an easy shift to go from jargon to clear client-loving language.

Business owners are often nervous to stop writing for their peers and start writing for their prospects. They worry they’re not going to sound professional or smart or like the expert that they are.

Your prospects won’t understand you if you’re speaking a foreign language.

Your industry peers aren’t going to fill your client roster, so for the love of all things small-batch Kentucky straight bourbon, stop talking to your peers in your website copy!

If you’re ready to stop talking to your associates and start speaking directly to your prospects, here are some easy ways to do it. I promise it’s easier than learning a second language:

  1. Talk to your prospects. Ask them to tell you what they need, what they’re struggling with, and what makes them angry. Encourage them not to censor themselves or try to get it “right.” Write down what they say and use these words in every client-facing thing you write.
  2. Talk to your clients. These people already like you so they’ll probably want to help you. Think about things they’ve said to you when they first came to you with their problems and ask them to chat for 10 minutes about how you’ve made their lives infinitely better. Write down what they say and use these words.
  3. Stalk people online. In a non-creepy way. Lurk in Facebook groups, on Twitter, and in blog post comments. Listen to those online conversations for the problems they’re experiencing that you can help with. Use their words in your copy.

Do you notice a trend here? Research, write down what your prospects say, and put it in your copy.

Then test it out, and tweak it. You can use all the industry jargon in the world but if your clients don't understand you, they're going to disappear. 


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