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Would the world would be a better place if we all just asked for what we wanted?
The first time I stayed with my boyfriend’s parents at their home in Heidelberg, Germany I knew it was going to be a long weekend. And not ‘long’ like a 3-day trip you reminisce about wistfully over coffee on your return. Long like a coach journey to Hull, when you’ve forgotten your phone, the skylight is broken and it’s raining. In February.
After returning from an early morning run on the first morning, his mother greeted me in the kitchen.
“I’m cooking breakfast Amy. What do you normally have?”
Not wanting to disrupt the usual routine (I’m the easiest house guest you’ll ever meet… Please remember that in case I need to stay at yours sometime), I responded by saying:
“Oh just… You know… Whatever.” Followed by a huge smile which I hope translated into German as “Love me, future-schwiegermutter!”
Her response was swift, brittle, and punctuated with irritation.
“You cannot eat whatever. Whatever is not a breakfast.”
I accepted that she was in fact correct and I had given a foolish, nonsensical, and non-specific answer. She pressed again. “Come on. Tell me what you have for breakfast, I am making you breakfast.” And then she bared her teeth in a smile that had a meaning I was too frightened to translate.
I tried again, determined to be more specific and precise.
“Well, sometimes I have porridge, or cereal, or just toast and tea… or…”
She stopped me short.
“We have eggs. We are all having eggs. Would you like eggs Amy?”
And so the dance was over. We had eggs. And I was actually very happy about this because her clipped precision extended to her timing ability for cooking a fantastic soft-boiler.
But crikey, that was an awkward start to the day.
Sometimes we struggle to be direct about what we want. She wanted to cook eggs but didn’t feel she could say that to me initially.
I’m sure that you know someone who perpetually responds with “I don’t mind what we do” when you know deep down they have a very specific itinerary in their head. They just won’t share it.
And how often do we watch a romance movie pleading with the characters to: “Just tell him you love him for Pete’s sake!”
Would it be easier if we all just asked for what we really wanted? Or do these little dances add a frisson of excitement to our lives?
One thing I know is that when it comes to writing copy, you can’t afford to dance like this with your customer. But sometimes the language we use, and our calls-to-action makes it easy for customers to overlook us as the ‘business next door’. If we’re not direct with what we want, there’s a good chance they’ll assume we don’t mind if they just emulate Dionne Warwick and walk on by.
That’s why in last week’s podcast I implored you to avoid filler and fluff in your copy. Instead, make your calls-to-action and promises to customers, confident, bold, and vivid.
Because let’s face it, you don’t have all day for people to realise that you’re just a business, standing in front of customers, asking them to love you.
Till next time, Keep believing.