Frankly, I’m awkward. Adorably so. But awkward none the less.
Recently someone described me as “smart.” Which I was pretty chuffed about. Who doesn’t secretly believe they’re more intelligent than other people (ahem)? And then went further and said I was “whip-smart.” And these words conjured an image of CatWoman in my mind. Black, sleek, sexy. Not. Me. At. All.
I have no problem with me, or anyone else for that matter, being described as “whipsmart.” I’d just never use that word to describe myself. Not even if I was holding an actual whip. Because I’m so unco I’d likely whip myself instead of my opponent (or lover). And it’d just be a painful experience for everyone involved.
What about you?
Are you using words to describe yourself that wear well on other people, but don’t quite hit the mark?
It’s not your fault.
We humans are a funny bunch. We say we want to be unique, original, revolutionary. But we rarely stretch beyond what sounds cool, feels comfortable, or what everyone else is saying and doing.
Let me be perfectly clear: there is nothing wrong with calling yourself “killer” or a “badass.” You may have a total rockstar vibe on paper as well as real-life. And good on you. This isn’t criticism. Your clients may expect this of you, if so — don’t go changin’.
May I simply give you a nudge in the direction of intentional personal branding. A gentle reminder that there are many ways to be in this world, just as there are many (untapped) ways to brand yourself, and to write engaging, clear copy. There are many ways to persuade your audience. There are many words (and ways) to describe yourself that are juuust right for you, your business, and your brand.
Choose your words wisely.
While I don’t believe your “personal brand” can ever convey the complexity or wholeness of who you are as a human being (that would be creepy), I do believe there needs to be some degree of alignment.
Look, your copy doesn’t have to sound exactly the same as how you talk in real life. Purpose and audience, people. Purpose and audience. And to expect that kind of consistency isn’t recommended. We can edit our copy. Real-life is too beautifully awkward for that.
But consider this: if the tone of your website — if the specific words you use to describe who you are and what you do — if the vibe of your copy — is completely at odds with how you really are in real-life, then there’s going to be a disconnect. And when the goal is connection with your desired audience, that can’t be a good thing.
Try this exercise.
Recently I asked a selection of my clients, friends and relatives to describe “the vibe” of my website (both copy and design). The general consensus was…
Warm. Kinda Quirky. Smart.
Then I asked a different bunch of clients, friends and relatives to describe my personality…
Warm. Kinda Quirky. Smart.
I share this not to blow my own horn. (Trust me, I’d give anything for one person to describe me as sexy, but at best even my own husband didn’t hesitate to describe me as “crazy”… so I’ll pretend he meant “crazy-sexy” … it can be our little secret.)
The point is…
Are you bringing your real personality to the business-table? Or are you slipping into that default-habit of using words that seem to work for other people?
If you’re sexy and you know it — write that way.
If you’re gentle and you know it — write that way (the gently-does-it brand of persuasion is oh-so alluring).
If you’re serious and you know it — write that way (the world doesn’t need you to be a comedian, the world only needs you to be of service).
Review your website — or better yet get a trusted person to describe the “vibe” of your copy in three words.
Then get another trusted person to describe you in three words.
See how closely they match up.
Feeling brave? Share three words that describe your brand (or yourself) in the comments below. Let’s celebrate our true identities, shall we?
Your secretly crazy-sexy-copywriter,
About the author: Kate Erlenbusch
Kate Erlenbusch is a writer, teacher and creator of Word Love, a digital copywriting service for coaches, consultants and creatives who want to sell and serve with soul. When Kate’s not playing with words she’s playing with her boisterous sons on their trampoline. Download Kate’s free eBook 7 Cheeky Secrets of Writing that Sells & Serves at wordlovebykate.com