I’m away this week, skiing with our grandchildren. (Yay!)
Isabel Parlett has written a guest article. Isabel is
brilliant at showing Accidental Entrepreneurs how to say
what they do, when what they do is deep, powerful, and hard
One of my associates sent me a promotional email she’d
received. “I know this marketing communication doesn’t
work,” she told me, “but why doesn’t this make me want to
buy?” I took a look, and what I saw was familiar and sad.
The promotional piece was for a weekend retreat. I could
feel all the good intentions behind it, but the words just
lay on the page like tired puppies. Worn out. No zip. No
As solo business owners, we are often at a loss to
understand why our words aren’t getting a better response.
Although an offer can fail for many reasons, I always
recommend you look first to your marketing communication.
Why? Because if your message doesn’t connect, you won’t get
much payoff from more exposure. Once your words really speak
to people, you’ll get more bang for your buck from more
Here then, are the top 5 reasons your marketing
communication fails to strike a chord.
No clear focus for what you are offering.
When we aren’t clear on the ultimate outcome that we are
delivering, we sometimes try boosting our appeal by offering
to deliver everything under the sun. In this case? The
retreat offered: renewal, creativity, connection, peace,
appreciation of life, awareness, balance, and self-discovery
Phew! It’s so many different ideas my poor brain can’t wrap
around it all. There’s no central theme or image I can use
to fix in my mind what she’s offering. Instead of thinking
“wow! I’d get a lot from this experience,” I walk away
thinking, “I am confused, and I wonder if the retreat leader
No Verbal Markers that Say “I am talking to you!”
When we try to be a fit for everybody, we end up being a fit
for nobody. Even when we think we believe in the law of
attraction, our words often reflect our indecision or
confusion about whom we want to reach. One sure sign that
you aren’t clear? When there are no concrete “identifiers”
in your copy. By identifiers, I mean phrases like “as a
working mom,” “as a business owner,” “in the workplace,”
“navigating the world of academia.” These concrete markers
confirm for the audience that your marketing communication
was written for them. It makes it personal.
No New Insight into Your Audience’s Struggle
It’s no longer enough to let your audience know that you
feel their pain. You have to quickly demonstrate that you
have valuable insight into that pain. That you’ve made some
connection they haven’t about why they are stuck where they
are. That gives them hope that what you are offering aren’t
the same old tired solutions that they’ve heard of before.
In this marketing piece, I would have liked to have heard
answers to questions like “What is it that leads us to be so
disconnected from ourselves?” “Why is renewal needed now
more than ever?” Even something as simple as “The harder we
work, the more we need quiet, open space to recharge our
batteries” would have made me go, “hmm, could that be true
No Visible Plan for Delivering on Your Promise
Once you’ve shown that you know your audience, and you have
a juicy and specific outcome to offer them, the
communication shifts. Your reader is no longer asking, “Am I
interested?” She is asking, “Do I believe this person can
deliver on what they are promising?”
Testimonials are one way to establish credibility, but what
testimonials don’t do is create a picture for your audience
of how you lead them step by step to the destination you’ve
promised. When the way you deliver is a mystery, you’re
asking people to take a big leap of faith. When you describe
your logic, process, or philosophy in a limited number of
steps, your audience can see how your steps or ingredients
add up to the outcome you are promising.
For example, if the woman offering the retreat had listed
the “five stages of renewal” or the “three ingredients of
creative discovery,” her readers would have immediately
believed more strongly that she could deliver.
No Fire in your Belly
To me, words are transparent. They reveal every nuance of
who you are, how you see yourself in relationship to the
world, and how you feel about your work. Since so many
creative professionals say they hate marketing, it is a
surprise that the communication they write comes across as
strained and tense?
On a gut level, you readers will feel if you are writing
from the place of consuming excitement about what you offer
or from a place of caution and ambivalence. The more you let
your words carry your passionate and full-hearted energy,
the more your message will have an indefinable “something”
that stirs the readers’ soul and sparks their interest in
what you offer.
Copyright 2004-11. Isabel Parlett. All rights reserved.
Like this article?
Sign up for Isabel’s no cost video training course, “Clarify
your Core Message, Communicate your Value, and Craft an
Elevator Speech with Soul”
Let’s face it. No matter how passionate you are about your
work, if you can’t easily tell people what you offer, and
why it matters, it’s hard to be in business. Being able to
easily and effectively talk (and write) about what you do is
key to getting the clients you want, and the income you
need. It’s the key to making a living doing work you love,
bringing what matters most to you to the world.
Isabel has a gift for showing business owners, especially
those whose work is intangible, transformative, or unusual,
how to find clear, simple, soulful language to clarify their
core message, communicate their value, and create an
elevator speech their audience will actually understand.
To sign up now, and you can access the first two videos,
Photo by: mr pete ross via Flickr