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Write To Express, Not Impress

If you're a professional, I'm positive you had to read long, boring, academic articles filled with densely packed text and paragraphs so long, some would take up entire pages. Most professionals had to do this to some degree.

The problem is that when most professionals market themselves (and attempt to write their own copy), they write in the same dry, academic style. Their marketing communications appear as thorough, stale recitations of facts, devoid of any literary intrigue or storytelling.

After all, most universities and academic circles teach us to follow a formulaic approach when describing our research. We are told to stick with the facts, and avoid generating excitement, interest, or curiosity.

But the problem is twofold:

  1. We are not our market.
  2. Our market is not our peers.

Selling your professional services to an audience who have absolutely no incentive or motivation to read your materials for its scientific or academic merit is wasteful, unnecessary, and counterproductive. It may even incite an unconscious hostility.

Writing intellectually terse, mundane content will only deter your clients because it's confusing, arrogant, and smacks of snobbism. Above all, it's insensitive.

Lack of empathy is the greatest killer of sales.

Writing for and empathizing with your audience can be daunting. Obviously, to become good at copywriting, you need to become good at storytelling. Or as my late friend and mentor, Gary Halbert, used to say, “Get good at storyselling.”

Not only that, but telling a story that communicates your value must also do so in a way that drives your readers' attention, minds, and actions. To be good at copywriting, you need to be good at understanding emotions.

An important caveat.

Your language doesn't need to be flowery, hyperbolic, emotionally charged, or laced with inflated benefits with the aim of eliciting some Pavlovian response. I know some copywriters teach this. And it's wrong.

That kind of writing will repel clients faster than dry, boring academic articles will. Plus, it will make you look more like a carnival barker than an intelligent professional — much less a professional who cares about her clients.

Instead, learn how to connect with your audience. Tell better stories. Express more empathy. Genuinely help them. And this, in turn, will communicate that you're the ideal solution to help them solve it.

To do this, learn as much as you can about your audience.

Start there.

The more you know about your audience, the better equipped you will be and the better your writing will become — not as a literary work of art (it might still suck), but because it will resonate with your audience.

Write to express, not impress.

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