Are you making this mistake with your business writing?

One of the delightful aspects of my work is getting to learn about all kinds of businesses and help their owners to write about what they do more effectively. Something I notice quite often is that people fall into a trap with their writing which puts a barrier between them and their reader.


When you are writing, you want to show the reader they are in the right place. And you also need a clear idea of who they are. You might have been asked, ‘Who is your ideal/perfect client?’ Perhaps you have written a description of your buyer persona. These are useful exercises to help you narrow down who you are talking to and create an offer which meets a specific need.


However, when it comes to writing website copy or blog articles, I often see people effectively putting this ideal client specification on the page. By focusing on their description of who they want to make a purchase, they fall into this trap: they write ‘at’ their readers, rather than ‘to’ them.

What do I mean by this?

Imagine you run a male grooming business. You might write something like this:


“You’re a man in his 40s with a new beard. You grew it during lockdown. You much prefer suits to jeans and when you’re not keeping your two children entertained, you enjoy playing golf.”

Person playing golf. Photo by Courtney Cook on Unsplash

You’ve got a clear idea of who your audience is. But think about how this would sound if you had this conversation in a bar: “You have a new beard. You grew it during lockdown. You are wearing a suit and you’ll be playing golf at the weekend.”


You wouldn’t say those words would you?


You might say something like, “Hey look at that beard! That is impressive! How are you getting on with it?” Then you might ask, “are you going to try any products? I’ve heard people talk about beard oil. Get it looking sleek for when you’re next out on the golf course.”

A man with a beard in a suit. Photo by Angelo Pantazis on Unsplash

What does this mean for your website copy?

“Now that is a great beard! You didn’t waste lockdown baking banana bread or learning the ancient art of origami. No, you grew yourself a beard you could lose a badger in while practising tee shots in your living room. Good work!


“That beard has turned heads on Zoom calls, now you’re ready to take it out on the course. You want it to look just as good as your Brioni suit. 


“It’s time to evict that badger and groom your mane. No more stray hairs getting plucked out by the kids. (They think it’s so funny when you yelp, don’t they?) You’d like a gentlemanly beard which is as well-cared for as your favourite green. 


“We’ll show you how to take care of your facial hair with nourishing products which will make you look good and feel confident.”


The second version doesn’t just know who the customer is, it has a conversation with them about their interests and what they want to achieve. 


When you are writing with your customer in mind, think about who they are and see the world through their eyes. Think about what they enjoy, where they want to be, and how your product or service fits into their life.


If you need website copy that talks to your customers, get in touch with me.

Picture of Rachel Extance

Rachel Extance

Award-winning journalist and blogger. I help service-based business owners communicate who they are, what they do, and why. If you struggle to talk about yourself on your website or your content marketing, get in touch with me.

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One Response

  1. I enjoy the male grooming business story. I like the compare and contrasting that you did. The conversation would go different in a bar! Good job bringing it home and back to copy , I like the details you use when you reference the type of suit the person would wear, nice job

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The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this article are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this article. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this article. The Story Cave Ltd disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this article.