Why Would You Aim for the Middle?
I’ve been playing around with new taglines for my business. Here’s the top contender:
I’m the Walmart of Copywriters
That snappy little phrase sums up what I’m all about. Average, generic work for a super low price. And I’m willing to write anything for anybody.
To be clear — I’m fucking with you.
There's a reason you don’t hear many people intentionally compare their business to companies such as Walmart, Golden Corral, or Dollar General. It's because we’re talking about places that are ordinary, average, and dull. No company wants to be labeled with those adjectives. They're all generalists.
Not that I’m opposed to budget-priced laundry detergent, a buffet, or an 18-pack of plastic hangers for a dollar. But I know walking into Walmart that the experience will be — average. It's hard to excel at anything when you sell everything.
I never want to be known as the guy who does everything. I’m a big fan of simplicity. And doing a little bit of everything is anything but simple. I started talking about this last week, and I'm continuing the theme this week before moving on in future editions to topics such as breezy writing, dogs, and dancing at a John Mellencamp concert.
If I tried to serve everyone and do a little bit of everything, then I'd be doing it all half-assed.
That wouldn’t make sense for me. I am quite full-assed.
Dial it Back
For me, casting a broad net and trying to do too much complicates everything. That applies to my own business and also to the way I help clients tell their story. For example, I’ve spent years trying to simplify PowerPoint and Keynote presentations for companies to ensure their message is crisp, but not everyone appreciates giving the content a little breathing room.
I once worked with the founder of a nonprofit who liked going full NASCAR on his partnership slides. In his mind, if it was good to show a half-dozen partner logos, then it was even better to show 40 logos. And why would he settle for a few bullet points on a slide when he could cram it full of super important words in 9-point text — and read every one of them to the audience?
More words must make it better! RIGHT?!
Other than that one guy, I’ve had pretty good luck convincing founders and salespeople to go with the “less is more” approach. I can edit and whittle away at a deck to make it nice and tight.
But just when I thought I was qualified to write the book on clean presentations, I learned over the past couple of months that I still don't know it all.
I’m working with a tech startup that’s about to close a round of seed funding. We’ve been lucky enough to get some coaching from a Silicon Valley business incubator that has helped more than 3,500 companies scoop up nearly a billion dollars in funding.
This ain't my first startup rodeo, but these West Coast cats know way more than I do about telling the right story to investors. And I’ve learned from them that the deck we thought was SUPER TIGHT at 18 slides could easily be whacked down to 12. Compared to the latest version, the original was loose like sleeve of wizard.
Even when you think your message is dialed in, you can still find ways to make it better. Simplicity brings the story into focus.
That’s why I don’t aim for the middle by operating in the “we do it all” world. I help startups and growing companies with their words. That’s it. Plain and simple.
I'm the biscuits and gravy of copywriters.
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Sorry, Golden Corral
Remember that thing I said up above about how I’m not opposed to a buffet? I sorta lied. Most buffets seem pretty gross to me. The only all-you-can-eat special I endorse is the lunch buffet at Classic Pizza and Pasta in downtown Fairfield, Illinois. The laconic yet hilarious Steve Brake owns this joint. He’s an old high school buddy who slings pies in his shop next door to the Wayne County Press office. So if you time it right, you can have lunch and then pick up a copy of the paper when it comes out on Monday or Thursday.
Yeah, you read that right. The newspaper comes out twice a week. And when there's breaking news, you can drive down Main Street and read all about it in the front window of the newspaper office. They write the who, what, when, and where with a fat marker on giant pieces of paper and tape them up in a traffic-stopping display that beats the hell out of scrolling through your Twitter feed.
If you need to slow down, Fairfield will make it happen.