Unfortunately many business people are reluctant to blow their own trumpets like Wilde. Perhaps it is because the English are traditionally reserved; perhaps it is because we are told off as children for ‘showing off’. Whatever the reason, many small businesses fail to promote themselves as much as they should.
When they do finally get round to writing some copy – for a brochure, a website or a sales letter, for example, the language they use is not persuasive enough. It fails to highlight their key strengths. Sometimes it is almost apologetic in tone.
The result? Their target market either fails to appreciate their worth or, worse still, doesn’t even realise that they exist. Whenever you see the much-used phrase ‘Yorkshire’s best kept secret’ – or any variation on the same, depending on where you live – remember the real meaning of this is: ‘We are rubbish at advertising ourselves’.
Nobody wants to take part in the arms race of meaningless superlatives – the sort of adverts which claim (often incorrectly) that their product is ‘unique’ or ‘famous’ are just irritating. But equally if you want new customers you need to stand up tall and make your pitch. It’s difficult writing a description of yourself for an online dating site (if you’ve ever had to), and equally describing your company in compelling yet believable language can be difficult.
The easiest thing to do is to get an outsider to do it for you. They won’t be hung up on the need to be modest. At ELK we are used to writing copy for other people – from a few sentences to a complete brochure, from a slogan to a novel**. Our skill is to use persuasive language without overdoing it – we talk with a strong voice, but we don’t shout.
If you feel you have a skill which more people need to know about, consider a professional copywriter.
* Although there is no definitive proof that he actually said it, and the quote didn’t appear in print until 1914. But it’s a cracker of a quote nonetheless, encapsulating both Wilde’s wit and his self-confidence.
** In truth, a client has never asked us to write a novel, but we remain open to suggestions.