When you’re a small business owner, you’re often doing most if not ALL of the jobs that it takes to run your business: from CEO and CFO to customer service, web designer, sales and marketing director, even janitor (for a home office). If you stop to think about it, it can seem to be too much for one person to handle well.

Here’s one instance in which this is to your advantage. Yes, you read that correctly: this can be an advantage.

Since you’re delivering your service to your clients, listening to their specific needs when creating offers for them, and customizing each project to fit their desired results… you ALSO have a front row seat to hear the particular language that they’re using to articulate what they struggle with, need, and want. As a sales director, customer service representative, and the person who delivers your service, you have a depth of resources to use when you’re sourcing new content for your marketing.


Be the Marketing Director Last

I encourage my clients to keep a running document of terms and phrases, a scratch doc, that their clients naturally use in conversation, emails, comments on social media or blog posts, and in other communications. The key to getting the most out of this document comes down to the following points:

  1. Always write down the specific words your clients use. Never paraphrase
  2. Contribute to this document often, ideally every day
  3. Note the number of times you hear the same word or phrase from individuals.
  4. Review this document every time you’re creating a new marketing piece, set of blog posts, or revising your marketing materials (including your website!)

Let’s break down each item in this list and why they’re essential.


Never Paraphrase

Your ideal clients, the type of person you want to work with all day and every day, will use specific words that may be unique to their lifestyle, industry, or situation. Incorporating the particular words they use into your writing will show them that you understand them, which is critical to them trusting you, your work, and your expertise.

If you’re paraphrasing their words and using your own in place of them, you’re missing out on this opportunity to immediately show them that you’re familiar with their situation. Here’s an example of how easy it can be to paraphrase someone:

  • Client: I’m feeling overwhelmed by mothering my children.
  • Paraphrase: She’s overwhelmed from parenting.

To you, this may seem to cover the same idea, which is that being a parent is difficult. To your ideal clients, there may be a more nuanced meaning than this paraphrasing covers. Does this person feel that they “mother” their children, implying that they’re trying to overachieve at the role of being a parent? Does this person feel overwhelmed, meaning that she’s observing this state, or does she believe that others perceive her as being overwhelmed?

In this example, paraphrasing can edit out the specifics of the situation and leave you without a deep understanding necessary to connect with this person.


Contribute To The Document Often

We all get busy in our lives, especially those of us who run a small business. It can be simpler to push off tasks like marketing to one day a week (month? quarter?), expecting to catch up on all of the work then. Unfortunately, this can easily result in marketing that falls flat.

Contributing to your scratch doc often helps you prepare for the time when you can create marketing materials so you’re ready to jump in with the words that you KNOW will connect with your ideal clients, because they naturally use them when connecting with you.

I often work with clients to find the specific spots in their workflow that allow for a minute or two to collect words and phrases in this scratch doc. Whether that’s flagging an email for review at the end of the day or week, or bringing all of the communications together after off-boarding a client, there are many options on how to incorporate this into your existing workflow.


Note The Number of Times You Hear Each Word or Phrase

Once you start to note the words and phrases that your ideal clients are sharing, you’ll begin to see the same words and phrases repeating from people who aren’t connected. Here’s how I suggest including repeated words and phrases:

  • Once: note it in your scratch doc
  • Three times: create a blog post that addresses it or talks about how you work with clients on this item
  • Five or more times: start to add this to your website
  • Ten times or more: add it to your home page

Whether you use a checkmark, “x,” or another way to tally the times you hear (or see) an item from your ideal clients, tracking them will give you a guide on how to incorporate them into your marketing.


Review The Doc

Whenever you’re creating new marketing, social media posts, blog posts, updating your website, or other content, pull up this document. If you’re stuck for what to write about or how to “say” something, look at the doc for inspiration.

If you continue to use this scratch doc as the starting point for your communications, you’ll be quickly connecting with your ideal clients in a way that shows them that you truly “get” who they are and what they need from you.

I’d love to hear if you’ve found an alternative to a scratch doc to use to source copy that clicks with your ideal clients! Comment below with what’s worked for you.