February 8, 2011

I’m a legend in my own lunchtime

I wrote this article for the Professional Speakers Association of Southern Africa. I think you’ll find that the lessons apply to any organisation that is more “we” focused than “you” focused.

I’m a Legend in my own lunchtime – Jacques de Villiers

My marketing copy has more ‘i’s in it than floccinaucinihilipilification, the English word with the most ‘i’s in it. That’s no surprise. The problem is that the ‘i’s in my copy are predominantly “I”. In the professional speaking world, “I” is typically a precursor to some grandiose claim about the writer.

My claims would make even Narcissus appear coy and demure. To my embarrassment, there are more ‘I’s in my copy than in a Paris Hilton publicity junket …

I can solve your problem. I am the leadership, culture, EQ, presentation skills, sales, marketing, motivation and team-building guru. I am the only expert your company will ever need. I’ve trained more than 80-gazillion people. I belong to the PSASA and save Greece fund. I have climbed the Melville koppies – got to the top after my fourth attempt. I have lived with scorpions, piranhas, baboons, meerkats, man-eating walruses and now make a living speaking about them. I have swum across a reservoir in the Karoo. I am the most wonderful creature since ET flew on a bicycle and if you don’t hire me for your event, you must be stupid.

Reading my marketing copy with a diamond cutter’s eye, I discovered that there’s too much vanity in my approach. Not in a creepy Dorian Gray way, but more in an “I’m a legend in my own lunchtime” way.

As speakers, trainers and consultants we know that it is all about our target market. They want their problems solved and their hopes, desires and dreams brought to fruition.

What do we do if our marketing copy looks like a ‘first date’? We all know the kind of first date I’m speaking about, don’t we? Where one or the other mind-numbingly speaks about themselves for the whole debacle.

If we really want to write copy that speaks to our prospects so that we can convert them to hire us, we need to put ourselves in their shoes and feel their pain:

  • What problems do they have?
  • How can our speaking, training and consulting solve those problems?
  • What value do we add?
  • What is the return on investment for the client?

Once we’ve answered these questions, we have the foundation for good copy.

It’s simple, really. 98% of our copy should focus on our prospective clients and their problems. We can knock ourselves out on the 2% that’s left and put in “I can, I am, I will, I solve, I do” and so on. We do, after all, have to give our egos some wiggle room, don’t we?

In case you’re interested, floccinaucinihilipilification means, the action or habit of estimating something as worthless.

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