redtoolboxsmRecently I was talking to a marketing pro – someone I really admire. We were talking about how different people stand out, based on their websites.

I emailed over some links to four websites that seemed to be making statements. “They’re doing something right,” I said.

To my surprise, this consultant shrugged me off. “I looked at those websites,” he replied. “They’re not doing anything new. They’ve got very broad giveaways and they’re saying the same old stuff. They’re probably just marketing hard.”

Huh? I could see strong, obvious differences across the four websites. All were business consultants, although here I’m disguising the details. Each had a different value proposition and target market. For instance, Website A introduced the consultant as a maverick who helped clients celebrate their uniqueness. Website B was a down-home, “girl next door” type who focused on authenticity.

Ultimately, of course, each website promised to help other business owners make money and get more clients. Each had fairly straightforward freebies. But each presented a different personality as well as a different target markets and value propositions. They weren’t sharing fluffy differences based on color scheme or some arbitrary quality. Each would give you a different experience if you hired them. Few prospects would throw up their hands and say, “They’re all good! I’ll choose the cheapest.”

My colleague isn’t stupid. In fact, he’s one of the smartest consultants out there. But he wasn’t trained as a copywriter. He instinctively understands how to reach his own prospects. He doesn’t get the daily practice of reviewing websites with the question, “How will potential clients read this website? What will they notice in this sales letter? How will they react? How do they connect emotionally with this business owner?”

By way of analogy, one of my clients is a home stager. She can look at a house for five minutes and tell you why it’s not selling. Many of her clients are smart professionals. Some even work in marketing, even in real estate. But they don’t have the same eye. They don’t frame their questions the same way. They don’t pick up the small details that only a pro would notice. That’s how copywriting works too.

Many business owners – including experienced coaches – aren’t sure how to evaluate copy. They are puzzled when their own materials don’t bring results or when their own clients keep working hard without seeing progress. They sometimes push even harder, which makes things worse: it’s like planting seeds in the wrong soil and then going all out with water and fertilizer.

Can you cultivate your own copy intuition? Absolutely. Here are 3 things you can do – and make sure to do them often!

(1) Take a copywriting course and read copywriting books. Hire a copywriter to help with some of your own DIY projects. Get a sense of the basic principles.

(2) Practice by evaluating websites and sales letters you find on the Internet. Choose examples where it’s easy to get into the customer’s mindset so you think like a buyer, not a marketer. How do they measure up? If they seem to be breaking a lot of rules but still draw clients, what do you think is going on?

(3) When you write your own copy, create some distance. Write a draft and then go away for a day or two. Go back and read it again. Remember that copy is always a work in progress. Almost every copywriter I know has had the experience of writing content, getting no response, revising, and seeing a big change.

What do you think? Has your experience been the same or different? Please comment below.