Customer Clarity is Essential for Success

The more clarity you have about who your ideal customer is, the more effective your marketing will be. In tough times, this is even more critical. If you don’t know exactly who you are trying to reach, marketing ROI will suffer.

An arrow that hits the bullseye wins over half a dozen that clutter the target.

I recently watched the Russell Crowe version of Robin Hood. Set in 12th century England, it’s the backstory behind the legend of Robin Hood.

At the time, archery skills were a key factor in staying alive. Robin Longstride excels in them. The times where he employs his archery skills to take out a bad guy drive the point home. 

When arrows are flying all around, Robin hits his precise target from amazing distances. 

One of my favorites was set in the woods where Robin and his men are fighting a group of treacherous mercenaries. The bad guys led by Godfrey elect to break off and ride away.

Robin notches an arrow in his longbow and raising it to high elevation shoots at Godfrey. The arrow arcs high and soars through the trees. Godfrey reels in his saddle. He clings to his horse as they whirl and race off into the forest.  

Did he kill him? We don’t know. It was a long, seemingly impossible shot.

Later, we find out Godfrey survives. Robin’s arrow did hit its mark. Godfrey’s face now bears stitches from the corner of his mouth outward for two inches.

Know your customers and target them to accurately score success.

Having worked with targeting audiences for over 20 years, I’ve seen what happens if you don’t zero in. 

It happens all the time in the spa, beauty, and wellness sectors. 

You have a variety of offerings that speak to different needs. Beauty, supplements, therapies. What they vary with the products you offer. 

If you send the same message to everyone. You don’t get the results that you want. 

The broader and more diverse your products the more challenging the issue becomes. Some division feels neglected.

It may be time to revisit your ideal customer profile.

One secret to keep in mind

There are a lot of components when it comes to identifying a target audience. Most commonly people look at demographics. Things like age, gender, location, buying patterns, income, and interests.

You also want to take a look at psychographics. Motivations, beliefs, and priorities to start. 

While you need demographics, I find psychographics can often give me a better grasp on how to emotionally connect with people and help them take action.

Three basic steps to clarify your ideal customer.

To gain clarity, you’ll need to start with data analytics. Then you can move into creating your ideal customer avatar. And then you’ll stay on top of what the marketplace is doing.

1.Look at customer data.

Start with your current customers or the people you think need your product the most. Learn all you can about them.

Discover their demographics. Something as simple as where they live can help you schedule content launches.  

Discovering psychographic information will help you move them on their buying journey.

If you are just getting started follow companies who are doing something like, or similar to what you want to do. What can you learn about their audience?

If you are established, reviewing everything you know about your current customers can tell a lot. 

  • Where do you connect with them? (emails, social media)
  • Are you virtual or face to face?
  • What do they buy and how often?
  • How engaged are they?
  • What forums, message boards, and the like to they use?
  • Look for interests and concerns. – (include problems and pain points)
  • What makes them resistant to buy?
  • Are they just looking or ready to buy?

Look at the six wellness segments: physical, emotional, intellectual/work, beliefs, social concerns, and environmental concerns. They will tell you a lot about how you can appeal to and market to your group.

2.Develop a buyer avatar – persona

Use all the data and analytics you gathered to help create a written description of your ideal customer. 

Do you know someone who is an exact match? Use that person can make to pattern your avatar after.  

You can create a written description of your own or make use of an online template. Google “customer persona template.” You will find dozens of options to help you make the job easier. 

They provide you a spreadsheet with a list of the topics you don’t want to overlook. All you have to do is fill them in and you’ll have a decent reference sheet for developing your marketing.

If you have a customer service team, talk to them. They can offer invaluable insights because they have direct contact with your buyers.  

You can also interview colleagues in same the industry as yours to gain their insights.

Keep in mind, you need to continue to monitor and follow your customers to learn more and discover patterns that have shifted.

3.Listen, learn, and monitor

Start with learning about your competition. Are you both doing exactly the same thing? What are you doing they are not? Is there something you do much better than they do? Are they not doing something you have thought of but not implemented?  

Or is there a way to tweak what you are doing to better engage with them?

Listen to what is said/posted about your brand. It can give you many insights. Your social channels are a good place to start. Expand your listening to the other places they hang out including special interest pages, forums, Reddit, and more.   

Monitor how what you’re putting out to see what kind of an impression you’re making. Use what you learn to tweak your marketing to them. Need help tracking? There are numerous online tools available to track what is being said about your brand.

When I work with clients

We start by diving into their data. What does the analytics say?  

Then we review the buyer avatar to look for ways to improve it. 

We look at what their competition is doing. If there is something we can offer that the competition does not, that’s an excellent place to explore. 

We make our marketing adjustments and track the responses. They monitor what people are saying and we look for more ways to tweak and adjust.  

Wellness – Time is Now

Wellness has been popular among health food and spa industries for decades. 

Now, because of the coronavirus, interest in it is skyrocketing. People want to take more personal control and responsibility for their wellness and well-being.

To better understand what people are thinking, marketing giant Ogilvy conducted a global survey of over 7000 people in 14 countries. 

Of those surveyed, 77% said wellness is very important to them. And 80% of them want to improve their wellness and well-being. 

There has been a huge surge in cooking at home, baking bread, making desserts, planting gardens, and exercising. Things that make people feel better.

“My freezer is where?”

My husband and I had talked about getting a small freezer for a couple of years.  With the pandemic shutdown, it was time..

“If we get a freezer, I can order meat from the butcher and we won’t have to worry about the grocery store shortages. It’s only been a couple of weeks, but the store shelves are so empty.” 

Hubby nodded. “Sounds like a plan.”

“Sold out, everybody is wanting them,” the frustrated salesman told me when I called. “Our next shipment isn’t until late May.”

 “We only have one left, ma’am. It’s a 21cubic foot. Would you like that one?” The fellow’s drawl told me he wasn’t a local.

“That’s just too big for the two of us,” I replied.  “I’m looking for something more like 10.”

Online, there weren’t any freezers available within a hundred miles.  My husband had been in a serious auto accident in January. We needed something that could be delivered and installed.  

I recalled that good old Sears carried major appliances. They didn’t have any, but they had a marketplace area on their website.  There I found the perfect freezer.  Just 7.5 cu ft and reasonable.

“Our new freezer will be here in two weeks,” I shared feeling victorious.

“Well, that’s good then. They’re delivering?” my husband asked.  

“They will deliver to the front of the garage. Maybe between the two of us, we can slide it into place? You’re getting around much better. Or I could see if the neighbor can do it.”

He shook his head. “We’ll manage it.”

I got the emails notifying me of shipping and the tracking information.  

On delivery day…

“I just got a message saying our freezer has been delivered. The dog didn’t bark, did you hear anyone?”

“No, all quiet. It’s not like Tigger to not announce them.”

I flipped on the porch light and stepped out so I could see if they had left the box and not rung the bell.  Nothing.  

I looked up the number and called customer service. After several minutes of listening to elevator music, a woman came on the line.

“I’m trying to track my freezer.  It says it has been delivered, but it’s not here.”

“Let me look it up for you… Yes, because of the shutdown, it was left on the driveway.”

“It’s not here. I’ve looked and it would be hard to miss something of that size.  What address do you show?”

“1625 W. Friendly Lane, Atlanta,” she rattled off the address.

“Atlanta, Georgia?  We’re in Oregon!”

“Oh dear, I could reship it when we get more in.”

“Please just cancel the order and issue a refund.” I felt deflated. So much for being self-sufficient in a pandemic. It took a month to finally get the refund processed.

Why wellness?

I’ve worked in the wellness sector for over 25 years.  I understand its benefits and impact on people. Today it’s not only exclusive spas or healthy eating.  It has spread across all business sectors.

Wellness is people taking responsibility for themselves. It’s beyond trying to stay healthy. It’s an active pursuit and it’s very individual in what it looks like.

Driven by millennials and Gen Z, consumers are looking at more than a brand’s products.  They are looking at how brands involve wellness in their “core mission.”  

A whopping 73% of those surveyed consider this essential. Yet, only 46% feel brands currently prioritize their wellness. And 41% say they can’t find what they are looking for at their preferred stores.

Coping with high stress and health concerns, consumers are looking for wellness options in every business they interact with. 

Imagine if your financial services, hotel, car, snack food, or airline offered wellness options. Hotels are leading the way. Cars designed to enhance wellness are in prototype. Snack foods are getting healthier. Skincare is helping people become their own beauty therapist.

3 Ways to Gain Wellness Consumers

Understand wellness

Alternative health has always had a wellness focus. Hemp and CBD fit the definition of wellness. They are perfectly poised to capitalize on wellness.

It’s a whole lot more than being healthy or free of disease.  Wellness is an active pursuit to take responsibility for your own health and well being. 

The Global Wellness Institute defines wellness as “the active pursuit of activities, choices, and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health.” 

Wellness incorporates six dimensions. Physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, social, and environmental.

Simply said, it’s taking care of yourself, being connected and helping others, and protecting the planet.   

It’s not a fad. Wellness is more than a trend. It is a deeper commitment to live better. Brands that incorporate wellness including social and environmental dimensions, will thrive in the new wellness economy.

Need inspiration?

Thrive Causemetic is a cause-based cosmetic company. Tom’s shoes donate a pair of shoes for each pair purchased.

Grocer Thrive Market donates a membership to a struggling family for every paid membership.

Paskho moved its production of sustainability-based clothing to underserved communities in the US.

Understand the gaps

The survey revealed three distinct types of gaps between what the customer wants and what businesses offer… availability, authenticity, and value.  If you steer your brand into addressing these gaps, you’ll be ahead in marketing strategies.

Availability gap

The product or service doesn’t exist. The survey showed they want to pursue wellness and they want brands to help them.  

What role does your brand play in helping customers?  What can you add or what partnership can you create to enhance how you help them? 

For weight management supplements or gut health, perhaps incorporate an offer of recipes, meal planning, and/or a fitness app.

CBD stress-fighting formulas could share an app that offered relaxing music or guided visualization.

Fitness-focused brands could link nutrition, recipes, or best practices for safe workouts.

You may need to reposition products to better showcase how they support wellness.

Don’t forget the social and environmental elements. Supporting companies that help others or protect the planet makes customers feel good. It enhances well-being.

Authenticity gap

Claims need to be understandable and believable.  People find confusing claims and lack of transparency frustrating. They find it difficult to tell the difference between real and fake wellness products. 

They feel most companies make promises that aren’t believable.  Where there is confusion…trust, and action stop. Confusion loses sales.

Product ingredient labels need to be clear, accurate, and complete. 

Directions for use need to be easy to understand and follow.  

Marketing needs to support honesty and clarity.

Value gap

Wellness needs to balance being a good value for the money, good for the consumer, and good for the environment.

People are thinking more outside of themselves.  They recognize that the choices they make have an impact beyond their personal benefits. 

People are making choices based on social and environmental wellness. Those committed to wellness don’t mind paying a little more for brands that incorporate those practices.

You might intrigue them by a product but if it comes at a social or environmental cost, they’ll decline. They want it to be good for their use and not at the expense of others or the planet.

We are going to see more recyclable packaging, more ways to refill bottles, and a reduction of carbon footprints.

If that hair or skincare product has a negative environmental impact…they don’t want it. 

When your product improves their life as well as benefits the community and the planet…you have scored high in wellness.

Plan for the future

Thriving in the pandemic culture and beyond is going to require planning. 

Immediate plans focus to increase profits now and keep customers loyal.  Trust building is key.

We know customers have more time than pre-COVID-19 to do their research.  They are using it to find brands they can connect with and believe in. Help them find your tribe.

Look for ways to update your content or add fresh content that focuses on wellness.  The interest is going to continue to increase. Messages should be empathy driven now and into the midterm. 

Make plans for the midterm.  You want actions and experiences to enhance your brand in interconnected ways. 

Think about how you can innovate for the long-term to maximize your wellness customer impact.  They have made the decision to live better. They want to buy, are willing to pay, and are looking for brands.

Need to up your wellness game?  Message me: judith@jculpcreativecopycom. 

Intra-pandemic Customer Mindset

We have been dealing with the pandemic for seven months. New research numbers are starting to emerge. Key is the shift in the customer mindset. This impacts our society, our businesses, and our marketing.

One thing for sure…we aren’t past this.  We’re intra-pandemic.  

All the marketing guides prior to the pandemic are out the window…useless.  

GlobalWebIndex specializes in consumer data for marketers. Recently they reported on the changes to the consumer mindset that all marketers need to be aware of.  

Their report is based on a global study, interviewing  688,000 internet users aged 16-64.  They share five key takeaways.

Personal data concerns are down

During the lockdown, or just staying home to reduce risks, people moved to online.  Online ordering groceries, home supplies, virtual or phone shopping assistants. However, when you shop online…you pay online.  

What changed is people are less concerned about online shopping risks.  They are less concerned with personal privacy loss. And less concerned about businesses using their personal data to market to them.

It had to happen.  You can’t get help if you don’t share anything. That would be like going to a doctor because you don’t feel well, but refusing to share your symptoms.  

This is not to say they have abandoned their concerns…just suspended them. They are shopping online, however paying attention to how companies use their information.

In the new customer mindset, relevancy has changed

Things like exclusivity, status, and reputation have dropped in relevance as much as 25%.

Consumers are less likely to want to stand out. Instead, they are looking for solidarity, feeling a part of the group.  

Their focus has shifted to values, purpose, and how brands contribute to the common good. 

For those who sell exclusivity, the challenge will be to showcase practicality. 

Life has slowed down

Staying home, being unemployed, or working from home have a different life pattern…and a different sleep pattern. People are sleeping in longer. 

For our normally fast-paced lifestyle, this is profound. It’s the first time since the Industrial Revolution that we have been “unchained” from an alarm clock.  

We are discovering more free time and a slower life pace. 

People are streaming more and gaming. They are also balancing this with offline activities. 

I live in a neighborhood conducive to walkers and from my office, I see my neighbors pass by.  Over the past seven months, the number of regular walkers has tripled..  

It’s not just seniors out for a daily walk.  It’s moms and/or dads with their kids…bicycles, scooters, tricycles, wagons, and strollers. Don’t forget the dog.

People have adopted more pets. Another healing wellness boost and incentive to get out and exercise.

Businesses should look for opportunities to enhance/support a more relaxed lifestyle. 

We also need to be aware of what they call “media fatigue.” Discover ways to help them look away from their screen.  

Both McDonald’s and Heinz released branded jigsaw puzzles to capitalize on the new trend.  They are using the need for offline entertainment as a marketing opportunity. They have released dozens of versions across 17 countries.

Financially, the customer mindset is more cautious

People across the globe are beginning to understand the impact the pandemic will have on their personal income long-term.  

GlobalWebIndex shares “the number of consumers expecting a big/dramatic impact on their personal finances from COVID-19 has increased by 43% since our first wave of research.”

Discretionary spending will take the hardest hit. The report shares that consumers see themselves as less affluent.  They are less willing to put wealth on display.  

Just because they see a brand advertised consumers aren’t dashing out to buy it.  Expect them to take more time to consider a non-essential item as we move forward.

Vendors of non-essentials will be looking for ways to market them as a necessary item rather than an extra.

More local focus

International travel has come to a near halt.  My husband’s family lives in the UK.  We have no idea when we may be able to visit them again.  

I’ve heard similar thoughts from other Ex-pats. You are where you are.

Destination Analytics released statistics covering through October 16-18. The US is split on their thoughts about travel.  

The number of COVID-19 cases is soaring, those ready to travel is dropping. 55.5% of the people say they are ready to travel. This is down from a 2020 high of 57.8% just a week before.

Locally, our tourism bureau shifted its marketing focus from national to regional.  They promote visit local and local staycations. 

Result: higher occupancy rates than anticipated. More people using local outdoor spaces.

People are concerned about where they live

With the pandemic cases on the rise, people are more concerned with their local environment. 

They’re concerned about global issues. However, they are more concerned with how their country, their county, their town are handling things. 

As we move forward expect to see more local and regional focus. 

When international travel becomes an option, security and health issues may determine a destination over cultural attractions.

New customer mindset takeaway

As marketers, we can expect more shifts and changes.  I work with clients to create the best possible user experience to keep them loyal, buying… and businesses making money.. 

Our buyers are there. 

We need to position our offers as customer-focused and relevant.
For the complete article or others by GlobalWebIndex, visit https://www.globalwebindex.com/hubfs/Downloads/The_New_Consumer_Mindset.pdf

3 Keys to Optimize Your Customer-focus

3 keys to being more customer centric
Keys to optimize customer-focus

Your customer-focus could be the biggest key to getting and retaining customers. How well you focus on the user, your customer is the most important aspect of business success today.  

Beware being business-centric

I remember the weekend I decided to do something about chronic pain. I’d had hip pain for months, stabbing with every step I took. I tried everything. That weekend I decided to try oral CBD.

I’d been getting emails for a while from a major company. What I read said they had a trustworthy reputation. That week, I’d gotten an email about a sale they were having. 

After going to the website and locating the product I wanted to try, I tried to enter the discount code from the email.  It didn’t work. It was late afternoon on Friday.  I tried to reach out to them, but with a two-hour time difference, no help was available. Maybe in the morning.

Saturday morning, I tried again.  The code still didn’t work. I tried to reach them…no one covered questions on the weekend. 

Pain and frustration soared. I finally, placed an order and in the notes section, explained that the code didn’t work. 

About a week later, I received my product – full price, no discount.

The next month, I needed some CBD chewies for my anxious dog. A discount code came in an email so I tried again. They were a highly respected company after all.

You guessed it…the code didn’t work.

Poor communications sour customer-focus

I’ve never ordered from them since. They had damaged my trust. If you can’t supply customer support, send out coupon codes that don’t work, and never respond to messages…I don’t care how big you are. 

That huge company is business-centric. They do what is convenient for them and it better be good enough for the customer. If they aren’t careful, they will run out of people willing to deal with them online. 

Having run my own e-commerce firm for 25 years, I certainly realize every business has limitations. However, there needs to be workarounds in place for customer support and to make the customer feel cared for.

The world has changed dramatically in the last three months. Many of us are staying at home and shopping online.  We depend on the websites we interact with to anticipate and take care of our needs.

A business-centric model generally fails at that. More and more people are shopping online, It works and is growing rapidly.  Online has proven to be a way for businesses to survive and thrive in the middle of a crisis. 

Retention is better than replacement

Online advertising can be expensive. It’s all about the bottom line. Cost of acquisition, sales made, and lifetime customer value.

It is eight times more expensive to replace a customer than to keep one.  That in itself is an excellent reason to get more customer-focused now.

If customers have a great experience with you/your website, they will tell their friends.  If they have a bad experience, they will tell twice as many. 

That makes a customer-focused business model that much more valuable.

3 Keys for improving your customer-focus

There are lots of ways to make your website more user friendly, but these three simple steps will help you move forward. They are all based on getting inside the client’s head. 

Think of what they might ask you? What might they want to know if they came to your booth at a Farmers Market, or visited you at a fair or other sales event?

I use the Farmers Market analogy because it strikes at the core. Sales are a person to person exchange. 

What do you want from that organic fresh produce grower? What do they grow,  how do they grow it, what makes it different from the next booth?

The same is true for online shopping. We need to remember and treat it as a one-to-one interaction.

Key 1 – Your website should focus on talking directly to your customer in a conversational tone

Going back to our Farmers Market…you walk along the sidewalk, (following social distancing) and trying to observe what is available at each stall. 

Does their signage make their product clear? Does it look good? What does it tell you about those products? And today…what efforts are being made in the arena of infection control?

If it looks interesting you make your way to the display table. How are you greeted? Do they ask if you are familiar with their offerings? Do they share their unique selling position, (USP)  in a clear and conversational manner?

The beauty of your website is the potential to share more in-depth information than may be possible at a booth where others are waiting for their turn to buy.  Layout and ease of use. 

Is the website fresh and current in appearance?

Does it look like their kid put it together on his aging tablet with out of focus images?

Are there answers to questions the customer hasn’t thought of yet?

How do customers get help?

I know you can’t be open 24/7. Help your customers by clearly addressing how they can get questions answered.  

How can they reach you?

What is your response time?

What if there is a special and your code doesn’t work or they have problem placing an order?

Company size is not an indicator of customer-focus. 

A small business-centric firm sent an e-sales letter that was intriguing and I place an order for their special.  They followed up with 5 emails then went quiet. 

No further contact.  Three weeks later, I checked and the product had never been shipped. Click-bank issued me a full refund. 

A customer-centric small local winery ran a special on their to-die-for Rosé. The discounted price worked but heavily discounted shipping didn’t kick in. They helped me solve the problem in a quick 2-minute call. 

Mindset and focus, not size. Find ways to improve customer service.

Move on past Covid19…

It’s time to give up the coronavirus excuses. Shipping is pretty much back to normal…although buyers tend to be more accustomed to delays.

Sure, some items may be out of stock and take longer than we’d like to become available.

That is the new normal.

Most businesses have found ways to get things done and work remotely. 

If your phone system doesn’t allow call-forwarding, maybe it’s time to go VOIP.  It’s inexpensive and totally customizable. Use the control settings and people can’t call you during designated “closed” hours…instead they are directed to your message system. Simple.

I know several firms where they published a list…need to reach us, we’re working remotely. Customers could contact alternative numbers/emails to get the support they needed.

Move past negative coronavirus messages. Share the positive changes you implement to make your company, product, safety, and customer care even better.

Focus on being helpful. It’s time for positives and inspiration. It’s time for connections and networking.

You and your business are the messages you send out via your website, social media, and email communications. Make them count with customer-focus.

Halo or Horns…How is Your Business Seen?

Psychologists have understood for years that appearance and positive interactions can create a halo effect across a person and those standing close by. 

It works equally across a business. Get one area top-notch and the halo spreads across your brand. Look at Apple’s halo as an example.

You’ve probably heard the story about equivalent job applicants? 

Two people with very similar abilities, but quite different in appearance and presentation. 

The one with the more classically appealing appearance and presentation will get the job every time.

I recall one particular story where an applicant when into a business to apply for a job…obviously before the mandated online application systems. He had a scraggly beard and wore unkempt clothing.

Then he went home and shaved/groomed his facial hair and put on a business suit. He reapplied.

When they offered him the job, he clarified who he was and that he had done this in the interest of research.

How embarrassing for the business. 

But we have had these responses ingrained in us for millennia. A beast at the entrance to the cave was much more a threat than say an attractive female alone. 

In my 30 years in business, I’ve interviewed thousands of clients, students, and applicants. There are some truths that almost always hold true…and I see the same thing happening with businesses and products.  

In fact, there are numerous articles about businesses chasing the halo effect to increase their chance to gain new clients.  It’s the old “if you stand close, it rubs off on you” theory.

It’s important to keep in mind…

Once that halo is applied, it needs to be backed up with continued support. It only takes one bad product to destroy loyalty and that positive view of you  When that happens, they call it the “horn effect,”…speak of the devil.

Here are 3 techniques to earn that halo…

That halo is generated from the first brief 2-5 seconds of a customer’s encounter with your brand. That might be the physical product, you in person, or your website.  You only get one chance to create that first impression.  These tips can help you make it your best.

Halo 1 is earned with your website.

The coronavirus has made online the preferred method of connecting with and purchasing from a brand.  They will decide based on… 

  • Your website appearance
  • Ease of navigation 
  • Great product information 
  • Detail resource documents 
  • Ease of finding and using the contact information

Speaking as a customer…there is nothing worse than an inability to get questions answered.

A second Halo is your voice or tone

Its the way you share. Confident…not cocky or grandiose. Sincere, honest, and clear. 

For your products, it’s how they match your mission statement physically, price, and in the presentation.

Every type of communication needs to reflect this… 

  • Website
  • Marketing posts
  • Videos
  • Products
  • Customer communications

Passionate about what you’re doing…there is nothing that engages us quicker than a passionate person that is close to our beliefs. 

A third halo tidbit is getting client-focused…

Some businesses are built on this. Some are evolving into it. And others are fighting it tooth and nail. With all the competition out there, this last group will be getting the horns…not the halo.

To earn and keep this halo, you need to demonstrate it across every connection and interaction you have with clients and prospects.  


You don’t have to be perfect in every little thing, but get the customer focus right, and provide quality products and they will let your halo from that shine across your brand.

Look at the tone of your communications, responsiveness, and ease of access.

Right now everyone is running a little bit slower.  Put it out there.  Whatever you are able to do at the moment, communicate it clearly to establish client expectations.

A few months ago small businesses were struggling to compete against Amazon’s next day delivery. No more. Even they can’t accomplish it. Just tell your customers what you are experiencing and what you can do.

Share this across all your brand communications: website, emails, and social media.

Keep customers updated if a product is coming back into availability that has been back-ordered. Let them know if there will be restrictions and limitations. 

It’s really all about being the kind of communicator you want your suppliers to be. Share it forward with your customers and prospects.
Want to know if you earn a halo or horns? Contact me by Friday, May 8 at 5PM PDT to have a shot at winning a “halo or horns” look at your website.   judith@jculpcreativecopy.com. Please include your name, email, and website URL.

Choose your words carefully video…

Don’t let weak word choices undermine your meaning.

Hi, I’m Judi Culp. I have a question for you.

How often do you say, I’m sorry.

Most of us use it way too often so that it’s lost its meaning and doesn’t really say what we were trying to express. Let me tell you a story.

I have a dear friend that lived in paradise, California. You might remember. Paradise was the town that got wiped out by the worst, most horrific wildfire in California history. She and her mom were trying to collect their pets and rescue them so that they wouldn’t die in the fire. In the process, time slipped away. They didn’t get out as quickly as they should have. By the time they headed toward town, the smoke was dark. Black, acrid and billowing. They could see the fire moving toward them. It had to be terrifying.
They encountered roads engulfed in flames. People were fleeing on foot through the flames trying to escape. It was a little bit beyond that for them, so they turned around dashed back into town and into the strongest building they could find. It was stone with steel doors and all they could do was pray It would hold out during the fire. They and about 25 others huddled in their refuge. With the fire roaring, the power went out and then communications went out, cell phones died. Towers were down and it was black, but the fire screamed outside.
I went to look on Facebook trying to see if I can find some news about my friend. There wasn’t anything there, but there were posts from other people who like I were concerned about her. Some of them had really heartfelt feelings and many others said, I’m sorry, they didn’t know what else to say. Words can undermine our intent in what we’re trying to express and it doesn’t just happen in personal emotional situations. It can happen in our work context or even what we write.
So for example, if you were in a meeting and someone arrives late. What happens? Everybody scoots over and who apologizes. The people that are scooting over do. They weren’t late for the meeting. Better to not say anything. Just shift and let that person bear the responsibility.
Why me? Why do you want to hear this from me? I’ve worked in the SPA and wellness and service industry for over 25 years. I’ve been a teacher, a writer, and a mentor. I want to help you get off autopilot and whether it’s in words or copy, make your meaning, reflect what’s coming from your heart.
If you want to commiserate with someone… Maybe you have a client that comes in late because they were fighting traffic. Don’t apologize. Maybe something more like, I know that frustration. I’ve out there driving around too. It’s really nasty. Leave it at that.
Maybe you’re looking for a filler. Something with a project is going wrong. Somebody’s not giving you the feedback you expected. Maybe they’re wandering off track. Stop, pause and say something more like, hmm, maybe we should get some more input on that. Let’s schedule a meeting.
If you’re trying to add input in a meeting, don’t apologize instead… Those are great ideas. I have one I’d like to add or what do you think of this? I’d like to get your input.
Maybe you’re just trying to keep the peace. When you can see that there’s no common ground, don’t apologize for it. Maybe pause, reflect, get a smile on your face to lighten the atmosphere and say something like, maybe we should just agree to disagree on this and let’s change the topic. Then make your exits.
If you made a mistake, it’s the professional grownup thing to do to admit it, but it doesn’t mean you have to say, I’m sorry. All you have to do is own up. Oops, my mistake. Let me take care of that or I’ll fix it.
If you are writing something, you want to make sure your words really connect with your reader, sharing the message that’s from your heart. When I saw the posts on Paradise, California, I saw images like this…[holds up a picture of Paradise fire,]
I’m sorry, doesn’t begin to cover fire racing down to engulf, your homes. It doesn’t cover this [another image]. The devastation of over 17,000 buildings leaving people dead and homeless in Paradise, which wasn’t much of a paradise anymore.
I went to my Facebook friend page and I posted with tears in my eyes. I can’t even wrap my head around this. I cannot imagine what you went through and what you’re going through now. Yes, she and her mother survived. They had absolutely nothing.
I’ll tell you what happened to the next, next week. In the meantime, think about your message. Let it come from your heart. And… Let there be no mistake of your meeting. Bye.

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