Most valuable writing lesson ever. Or so says Steven Pressfield in this blog post on how his first professional job as an advertising copywriter indelibly carved this truth on his psyche:
“Nobody wants to read your shit.
Let me repeat that. Nobody–not even your dog or your mother–has the slightest interest in your commercial for Rice Krispies or Delco batteries or Preparation H. Nor does anybody care about your one-act play, your Facebook page or your new sesame chicken joint at Canal and Tchopotoulis.
It isn’t that people are mean or cruel. They’re just busy.
Nobody wants to read your shit.
There’s a phenomenon in advertising called Client’s Disease. Every client is in love with his own product. The mistake he makes is believing that, because he loves it, everyone else will too.
They won’t. The market doesn’t know what you’re selling and doesn’t care. Your potential customers are so busy dealing with the rest of their lives, they haven’t got a spare second to give to your product/work of art/business, no matter how worthy or how much you love it.”
Every online copywriter – no scratch that – every writer, marketer, advertiser, business owner, and entrepreneur should go read this post in its entirety.
This very powerfully states what Future Now has long taught: prospective customers are task oriented – they have lives and they are not on your Website because they are interested in you, or your company, or how you’d like to “position” yourselves within the industry. Your online visitors have a problem and they are really only interested in whether or not you have a viable solution.
Once you understand that, you can move away from we-we copy in order to focus on providing visitors with:
Nobody wants to read your copy. But if they’ve voluntarily come to your Website in search of a solution, chances are good they will scan, skim, and yes, even read copy that addresses their task at hand.
The difficult part is often the task of separating out “your sh**” from the copy that’s actually needed to address visitors’ concerns. Hiring outsiders often helps with this. Personas are also extraordinarily helpful. And so are the guidelines outlined in Steven Pressfield’s post – go read them!
And then go kick some online marketing a**
P.S. If the name Steven Pressfield seems familiar, you may have read his (highly recommended) non-fiction book, The War of Art. Or possibly his extremely popular historical fiction (also recommended).
[Editors Note: The author of this article is now blogging at jeffsextonwrites.com]