Story # 1:
Dave has a great schtick that he does when he wants to make me laugh. He holds up his hands in that double L thing you do when you’re trying to show you’re a movie director or something and pretends he’s in a pitch meeting for Batman, the 60s TV show.
His character is the guy in charge of writing the music for the opening credits. He puts on his California accent and says:
“OK, here’s what I’ve got. You ready? This is going to be awesome.”
Then, not singing but speaking in his best deadpan monotone:
“Na na na na. [pause] Na na na na. [pause] Na na na na. [pause] Na na na na. [pause] Batman. [pause] Batman.”
Gut-droppingly charming smile with accompanying flourishy hand motion. “What do you think? It’s good, right?!”
Story # 2:
I was at the drugstore the other day buying shaving cream. I haven’t bought shaving cream in a long time because I’m a wax girl, but I decided to try laser, so we’re back to the Gillette aisle.
I’m squatting down on the floor looking at my options. (They put them on the bottom shelf because they’re cheaper than the waxes and sugars and such.) And I’m squinting to see what my choices are because apparently, age-related vision loss kicks in a lot earlier than I anticipated.
One of them has a little image of a quality seal or something, one of those shiny Web 2.0 button things. It says, “Great for new shavers!”
I stand there in the drugstore staring at this thing. I turn it over to read the back. I drag my eyes back and forth across every piece of copy. Try as I might, I can find nothing that indicates why this might be great for new shavers. I mean, is shaving hard? Well, sometimes, yes, but it’s hard because putting your foot behind your head is hard, not because you bought the Advanced shave gel when you were only really ready for the Beginner.
It’s kind of driving me crazy, actually. Why? Why is it good for new shavers? Who decided on this copy? Who signed off on this copy? Who put this mockup on an easel in a development meeting and which team of Brads nodded in a silent chorus of agreement? WHY WHY WHY?
Then I shrugged and put it in my cart.
Story # 3:
A few aisles over and we’re looking at diapers.
There’s a brand of diapers called GoodNites, which are apparently not diapers but “bedtime underwear”. They have them for boys and for girls and they usually have animated characters on them.
This particular package had a little snippet of copy, though, that really caught my attention:
“Limited Edition – SPIDEY!”
These diapers had Spider Man on them, but only for a limited time.
In case you’re long past the years of young children, I’ll give you a brief recap of what the nighttime underwear process entails.
- You put them on your child.
- Your child wears them for ten hours.
- Your child urinates on them.
- You throw them out.
I can understand limited edition fragrances. I can understand limited edition purses. I can understand limited edition ice creams, cookies, burgers even.
But diapers? Really?
Brad? BRAD? WHERE ARE YOU, BRAD?!?!
Still, there was only one pack left on the shelf. Clearly it worked.
Story # 4:
Recently, Jack and I were putting on his impossible-to-put-on shoes. He’s dyspraxic, which means all shoes are impossible to put on. I am singing Monday, Monday to pass the time.
He’s very into lyrics lately, and he was hanging on my every word.
“Do people not like Mondays, Mummy?”
“Most people don’t, no.”
(I will take this opportunity to remind you that Jack is seven and a half years old. The fact that at the age of nearly eight, my youngest son has no conception of why people might not like Mondays is a sign to me that I am finally living the right life, shoe issues notwithstanding.)
I explain the reason most people don’t like Mondays, and then I say that the guy singing the song doesn’t like them for another reason. He wants to see the full lyrics so we look them up.
In case you need a refresher, I have taken the liberty of quoting the first few lines:
Ba da, ba da da da.
Ba da, ba da da da.
Ba da, ba da da da.
Ba da, ba da da da.
Jack posits that perhaps the reason she might not be with him anymore was because he wasn’t a very good songwriter.
This brings us to our point today.
Help! My blog posts and copy sound so stupid!
Despite his love of both writing and music, Dave has always maintained that the reason he never seriously considered becoming a songwriter is because he’s afraid his stuff would sound stupid. Like, when The Mamas and The Papas sing “Ba da ba da da da” for an entire minute straight, it sounds cool. But he said he could never do it because he could never look at his own “ba da ba da da da” as being anything other than ridiculous.
There’s a very good chance that you and I suffer from the same problem, albeit in a quieter but much more pervasive way.
Many of the students taking Let’s Fix Your Business have expressed, to Dave and me directly or through their intake questionnaires, that they think their web content and copy sound stupid. They have told us that the appeal of the class lay in its structured approach to fixing content, website, and email lists. They often know what they’re supposed to do, sort of, but they don’t know how to do it without sounding stupid. Like, it doesn’t sound stupid when other people say something, but when they say it, they think it sounds dumb.
It’s a common problem.
We think of something to say or write, a video we could make, maybe, or a headline for a sales page, and then we stop. We have all manner of ideas and we don’t act on them. We’re hijacking ourselves by wringing our hands and, “I can’t do that, it might sound stupid.”
We do something easy, or tried and true, or unlikely to offend. We avoid sticking our neck out because we don’t realize that when we do it, it’s going to sound just as reasonable as The Mamas and The Papas.
Consider the following:
“There is a short window of opportunity during which your child can pee on Spider Man. Better stock up now.”
No matter how stupid your blog post or sales copy sounds, I promise you it doesn’t sound as stupid as that.