Are You Too Tough With Your Website Copy?

Kick ButtThere’s a strategy used in copywriting, and it involves being authoritative, even aggressive. Putting confidence into your copy almost to the point of arrogance is pretty powerful stuff, and it works out great for a lot of people.

It’s a lot better than sounding too soft, too unsure, too pleading. Begging people to like you and hopefully hire you will get you nowhere. Telling them you’re a good idea for what they want to achieve is the way to go.

However, all too often this confidence turns to cockiness. From there, it moves into plain jerkiness. We’ve had some pretty great clients, and they were amazing, wonderful, inspiring people – but their copy gave their target market the impression that they were… well, kind of a dick.

This happened because the clients crossed a line. Instead of building themselves up, they started tearing their clients down. They tried to make themselves seem good by comparing their awesomeness to the mediocrity of their clients.

The idea is if the service provider is great, and you’re measly, then of course you want to hire the great person to fix you, right?

Ehhhh. That’s true if the service provider is great. But it’s never true if the service provider comes off as a jerk.

So how do you know if there’s too much tough love in your copy?

Drawing a Line Right Off the Bat

First of all, never insult anyone that you want to hire you. This means no name-calling. Yes, even in jest. No telling them that they’re wusses, or cowards, or anything of the kind, even if it’s supposed to fire them up.

It may very well fire them up, but it will fire them right up to wanting to take you on, destroy you and all you love, not to start sending you money via PayPal.

Not insulting anyone also includes any times you sort of vaguely insulted them by insulting all people who do a certain thing. “Hey, look, you could not hire me. But the people who don’t hire me are stupid morons with no brains. You don’t want to be one of those people, do you?”

No. Don’t do that. Only a few select people can pull off name-calling. You’re not one of those people. Name-calling is out.

What else is out?

Pretending You’re More Important Than They Are

This is a tricky one. On the one hand, you want your potential clients to think you’re savvy and cool, totally worth hiring, because that’s what you’re trying to accomplish with your website copy. On the other hand, you don’t want to come off as an utter ass.

Here’s what doesn’t work:

“If you want to stop wasting your life and being a wuss letting people walk all over you, you need help. You’re not going to make it on your own and you need someone to help you do it. Of course, if you’re happy where you are being a loser, that’s your choice. I’m not going to try to convince you. My time is valuable.”

See how that went right over the line? That’s bad. Don’t do that.

You can tell them what people you’re interested in working with, and what people probably aren’t ready to work with you. You could write something like this:

“If you’re ready to kick butt, give me a call. If you’re still not sure, I’ll be honest – I’m probably not going to be able to help you yet, because this takes confidence on both sides. Go read my blog for a few hours and get psyched up. Then come back.”

That’s a crappy example, but you get the point. Right?

Being Confident and Powerful Without Being a Jerk

Now, there’s a reason that a certain level of “I just don’t care” works well sometimes. It demonstrates self-confidence. It’s not begging for clients. It gives a message like, “Look, I don’t need to do what I do for a living. I’m just trying to help you out.”

That’s a good message, even if you do really need to do whatever you do for a living. Acting like you don’t need work is one of the surest ways to get it.

You could be funny. You could make your potential clients laugh. You can make them see the foolishness of their ways without calling them idiots.

The whole idea behind a slightly aggressive route is convincing people that you’re powerful, which is all well and good, but you also need to put some of that confidence into the people reading your copy. Otherwise, you’ll just make people think twice about contacting you, because you might laugh or condescend their measly lives and then take their money.

Your potential clients need to think you’re confident, so they believe you know what you’re doing. You also need to make them think they know what they’re doing, which is making the good decision to hire you.

How about your copy? Can you make it more authoritative? Or does it need to be toned down a notch?

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.