Why Your Writing Gets No Traction

Like you, I secretly suspect that all the “shortcut buttons” on my microwave do exactly the same thing.

We’ve got, Reheat, Defrost, Beverage, Popcorn, Vegetable and Potato (which, according to General Electric, is apparently not a vegetable).

And while I use the appropriate button as the opportunity arises, I have to say, I’m not convinced it makes any difference.

But you know what I’ve realized? It doesn’t matter.

Putting the specific buttons there for each item or situation in question makes the microwave seem more versatile … more fine-tuned … more expert and, maybe most important, more targeted to me.

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They’ve chosen six common uses and I have to admit that when I bought the thing, it felt good to know that all of them line up with my (exciting) culinary lifestyle.

And that’s important. Not necessarily from a functional standpoint – like I said, I can’t even tell the difference in terms of how the microwave operates.

I mean from a marketing standpoint – speak to me directly about things that matter (to me) and I’m more likely to both listen and buy.

You know what? The writing you do in the name of promoting your solo professional business works the same way.

Consider the following paragraph regarding proper dress when exercising in winter:

“When the temperature drops below freezing, and when running outdoors, it’s essential to keep your head well covered. Because while gloves, warm socks and other outerwear are important for comfort, failing to keep one’s head warm is the number one cause of hypothermia among distance runners.”

Seems pretty reasonable (and, given that I literally made that up while typing it, all the more impressive).

But it’s generic. It’s not written for anyone in particular; it applies, across the board, to humans.

What if though, and again, just to make something up, I told you that my business niche is “Personal Training for Bald Men Over 50.”

Now, my paragraph might read something like this:

“When the temperature drops below freezing, and when running outdoors, it’s essential to keep your head well covered. Because while gloves, warm socks and other outerwear are important for comfort, bald men over 50 are particularly susceptible to hypothermia while running in the cold.”

Pretty much the same from an information standpoint, right?

And yet, I think you’d agree that the second feels more direct. Wouldn’t you, as a bald man over 50 (don’t worry, it’s not so bad) be more interested, more connected, more captivated by this example?

And – here’s the million dollar question – if you wanted a personal trainer, wouldn’t you be more likely to call the guy who wrote the second paragraph than a trainer who worked with people in general?

Here’s the bottom line. I know it’s scary to focus on a niche, whether that’s a target group, a particular thing you do, a geographic location or something else of extreme specificity; it feels like you’re limiting your options. But what you’re actually doing is eliminating your one-size-fits-all competition.

So pick a niche and then commit to serving it. Just a few small changes in how you speak and write can have a tremendous impact on what prospective clients hear, remember and buy.

Wait, sorry, I meant to say: As a solo professional, just a few small changes in how you speak and write can have a tremendous impact on what prospective clients hear, remember and buy.

Discussion Questions:
1. Do you like bald men over 50? Me neither.
2. What do the buttons on your microwave say?
3. How do you adjust your writing to reach your niche?


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