Self promotion and a (wo)man walks into a bar…

Do you recognise this scene?

You walk into a bar. After a while you spot someone who looks interesting. A conversation strikes up, but that early promise quickly descends into disappointed. The reason? That “interesting” person is spouting off reels off self-promotion. 

You know the kind of thing – “me this, me that, blah blah blah“…

What about me?” you’re silently shouting. But your pleas go unheard because this person is not remotely interested in your feelings, thoughts, or desires. They’re far more interested in ranting on about their own stuff.

So what happens? You bore – and rapidly. You tire, tune out and frantically plot your exit strategy.

“Get me out of here!”

You’d be right to wonder what this brief encounter has to do with your sales copy.

Surprisingly a lot. Let me explain…

You see, a lot of sales copy is just like this bar scenario.

Perhaps the website, leaflet or sales letter looks good on the surface. The graphics are appealing and the layout isn’t off-putting. But start reading and you quickly discover unattractive, unappealing self-promotion.


And guess what. Just like the bar episode – customers don’t like it.


Hearing how good a company is, how many awards it’s won, how proud it is of it’s customer service and how it’s “quality is second to none” just doesn’t wash. It’s plain boring.

But don’t worry. If your think your business could be guilty of this copywriting sin, you’re in luck.

That’s because the basics of copywriting can be learnt by just about anyone who’s willing to invest some time and effort. And while it might not achieve the same success as professionally written copy, it can still get promising results. So if you’re ready to roll your sleeves up, a good place to start is my blog. It’s packed with tips, tricks and techniques written specifically for small businesses like you who want to create content that gets read.

In addition, you’ll be pleased to know that:

One of the easiest remedies an amateur copywriter can make is to cut out the self promotion and re-dress the we-you balance.

What’s more this simple tweak can have one of the biggest impacts on your customer’s reaction.

Here’s why…


Don’t be mislead. All customers want to know is what’s in it for me?

To have any chance of converting a prospect, your sales copy must answer that question.

To do this you need to:

  1. Remove self-promotion (that we, we talk).
  2. Speak your customers’ language.
  3. Show how you understand their needs, interests and desires.
  4. Convince your customer you can meet their needs.

To discover five strategies for writing better sales content click here. 

Techniques for change

Shifting the balance takes a little focus. If you’ve got into the habit of writing from the first-person perspective, it can be a bit of a head-spin to write about “you”.

Here’s a practice example to show the shift.

“We at (company name) pride ourselves in writing outstanding words. We put a lot of thought into what we say and make sure it’s accurate and interesting”.

Doesn’t sound good does it? Can you see how this example is all about the business? There’s no indication this company understands the needs of their potential customers. Even worse I’m not convinced this copywriter would meet my needs.

What’s more there’s no rapport and no attempt at making a connection – both are critical if you want to make a sale.

Compare with this alternative:

“As a small business it can be hard to get noticed. You know the words your customer reads may be the only chance you have to make a connection. So if you’re looking for clear, compelling, creative copy that makes an impact, you’re in the right place”.

Did you spot the difference? This sample is more about the customer. The words empathise with small business owners, acknowledge it can be tricky standing out and offer up a solution. This version has more impact. More oomph. And I’m a lot more reassured my needs will be met.

Do you have work to do?

Here’s a simple starter to discover if you need to shift the balance of your website

This cool little free tool is called the WeWe Monitor from Future Now. Simply type in your website ULR and company name, and in a jiffy you’ll discover your ratio of customer-focused versus self-focused words. It’s not the whole answer, but it’s a good start.

Ideally you should be seeing a lot more customer-focused language. If not, it’s time for some urgent grooming on your website. And if you don’t have time for some good, old fashioned elbow grease, you could always call in a pro!

If you liked what you read please RT this post, and if you’d like a hand to write sales copy that works give me a shout.


Download 99 writing prompts and discover how to write with personality.

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  1. says

    It quite something to see the change from a “we” text to a “you” text. When I’ve tried I’ve struggled with every sentence ending up a question! But I’m up for a challenge!

    • says

      Hi Jo, thanks for your comment. It can be a bit tricky at first to shift away from first-person perspective, but once you’ve got the hang of it, it becomes instinctive.

  2. says

    You are so right Georgina. I attend many networking events, and it’s all about listening to other people rather than talking ‘at’ them.

    You also see it on forums too; people turning the conversation round to themselves at the first opportunity.

    Some people don’t realise that if you help other people they’ll be more inclined to help you…and that’s what makes the world go round, both in business and personal life.

    Lovely blog, really enjoyed it.

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