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Feeling less-than? Here’s a different way to think

Recently I was working on some uber friendly copy for a client that would cover all the back and forth involved in subscribing to a list. You know: “get this free e-book now” + “okay great, enter your name & email” + “thank you, now go check your email for your download” + “please confirm that I’m allowed to use this email to send you stuff” + “ok thank you now finally the free e-book is yours!”.  It’s an important process to ensure your leads don’t get lost and a great opportunity for your personality and point of view to shine through.

Inner Critic Alternative

How can I compete with that?

Anyway, just to double, triple, quadruple check I was doing the most I could at every step, I, of course, needed to walk through 2, 3, 4 opt-in processes myself… just to peek at what, say, other copywriters were doing – y’know, as examples.  And in the process, I started to tumble down the rabbit hole of other copywriters’ gorgeous writing. Their quirky turns of phrase? Their lovingly constructed sentences of support? Their amped-up superhero metaphors? Yeah. I was soaking in it. Doorbell rings. Inner Critic appears – and not just with a basket of donuts, but with good friend Impostor Syndrome who brought lattes.

There is a fine line between Market Research and Self-Flagellation. That rabbit hole of what other dudes are doing is one I peer into often. As my wise friend Krista warns me: “Compare, and Despair.” Strangely enough, that VERY AFTERNOON, I got a cry for help from a different client. But in their case I found it very easy to talk them off that very same rabbit hole ledge. Their special brand of greatness seemed pretty clear to me, but for a moment it fuzzed out for them. My point is, we ALL do it. There is ALWAYS somebody out there offering a similar product or service who is going to appear Better, More Knowledgeable, More Experienced, and/or More Successful.

So here’s what we need to remember:

  1. It’s a big, big world. There clients out there for all of us. Yes, if you’re a giant parity product producer with shareholders breathing down your neck you will want to chase market share aggressively. For the rest of us, there’s enough work to go around. Claim your niche and be you. Which leads into the fact that…
  2. Only you are you. You and only you will appeal to your ideal client. None of the clients I work with are winning business through lowest-price-beats-all or by being the one and only. They’re attracting clients who love the experience they get, how they connect, how the service is delivered or the way the product is packaged.
  3. Choose to be an “ally” instead of “competition”. Once you know your niche, and realize how it’s different – however subtle that difference – all your colleagues out there can become allies instead of competition. Sign up for their newsletters, connect through social media, grab an opportunity to meet them in person. Find out how you can help each other; exchange information; build on the other’s success. Can you refer your not-quite-right clients to this person? Can they cover for you when you take a vacation? Can you team up on bigger projects?

Tina Fey is hilarious. Amy Poehler is awesome. There will always be enough laughs to go around. Tina does the perfect Palin. Amy gives us Kaitlin (“Rick, hey Rick!”). Then they host the Oscars together. It’s gonna happen. You will run full speed into what you consider Better, More Knowledgeable, More Experienced, and/or More Successful. Back away from the edge of Compare & Despair. Look for inspiration, watch for ideas, emulate greatness.

Then just go do your thing.