Earlier this week I saw a job posting for a company looking for a writer to help them with the About Us section of their website. The company found a description on a competitor’s website and they wanted to use the same description on their website. Thankfully the potential client knew enough not to copy-and-paste the content, but he still wanted to reuse someone else’s information.
The problem with this technique – other than the possibility of plagiarizing – is that you’re essentially taking someone else’s clothes and trying to make them fit you. Of course there will be some pieces you can get into, but they won’t fit well and they won’t reflect your unique traits.
How does that apply to content?
It’s highly unlikely that you write the exact same thing as anyone else. Even if you discuss the same topics, your background and education will be different. Your influences are different. The way you treat people and talk to people are different.
When you copy someone else’s content (even if you rearrange the words so you’re not technically plagiarizing) you’re still telling someone else’s story. When you do that, you’re not showing people what makes you different – you aren’t highlighting your unique qualities.
So, how do you personalize your marketing content? If you don’t have the time to learn how to write effective copy (or the money to hire an editor), here are two tips you can use to help your content reflect you. (There are plenty of other techniques you can use, but these two will have the most impact.)
- Vocabulary. The words on your website should mimic the way you speak. Don’t use words from someone else’s site just because you like the way it sounds. If it’s more casual or more professional than you actually talk, it won’t take long for your readers to figure it out. Your website isn’t just promoting your books; it’s promoting you. Make sure the reflection is accurate.
- About you. Most plumbers do the same thing, so listing their services isn’t enough to set them apart from every other plumber online. The same’s true for authors – there are different ways to write a book, but all authors eventually end up with the same thing: a book.
You need to let people see who you are, so spend some time on your About Me page (it’s the #1 most-visited page of a website after the home page). Don’t just write an autobiography or timeline of your life, though. Picture your ideal reader, then talk to her like you would over a cup of coffee.
After all of the time and energy you’ve put into writing and publishing your book, don’t settle for using someone else’s descriptions on your website. Take a little more time to make sure your site reflects you and no one else.