Think of the content you write as a department store window.
If you want to attract people who love the color pink, you should deck the whole thing with magenta, rose, and ballet slipper—all hues of the most adorable shade in the crayon box.
Now, some businesses will be too afraid to hone in on one market. They think this will limit their customer base. They’ll toss some greens, blacks, and blues onto the palette to expand their appeal, thinking the variety will help attract more customers.
You see it all the time. SaaS platforms promise that they understand the needs of both plucky start-ups and trillion-dollar corporations. A power drill touts the ability to suit both DIY dollhouse builds and skyscraper construction sites. Manufacturing firms insist that they can satisfy both bespoke runs and high-volume production.
Instead of connecting with a broader audience, the strategy often does the opposite.
By trying to draw in “everybody,” you’re actually attracting nobody.
Why? Now, you’re diving into an even narrower, almost unattainable niche; people who like pink and green and black and blue.
Despite some cool pink stuff in the window, it’s a slim chance that the person will like it plus the other three colors.
You can’t be afraid to go full pink.
Go all out—scream your message from the rooftops.
Bedeck your windows in fuschia and flamingo, so the pink lovers of the world know that you’re the go-to source for their color obsession.
Don’t block the view of the windows with people casually browsing the blue, black, and green out of curiosity. Go full pink in your writing—shove the casual observers away. Clear only a path for those you can truly serve what you’re best at.
Here are three ways to be more unapologetically authentic in your writing.
Have you ever been in a conversation where somebody apologizes for cursing, but then breathes a sigh of relief when they realize the behavior is freely welcome? This isn’t to suggest you should mouth off, but it’s a great example of how you can dig into what makes you you.
Many have made successful careers by being unapologetically loose with the F-word. Ask Mark Manson; he slapped it on a book cover. Check in with Ash Ambridge, who loves to curse like a sailor and has made it the cornerstone of her brand with her book, The Middle Finger Project.
Doing things the old way—speaking in sterile, snoozy, and overly complex ways just because it’s “business time” is slowly washing away. Don’t dull your shine just because that’s how you were taught to write in the workplace. Toss away the rules list, and never be afraid to insert personality into your writing.
Don’t be afraid to scare people away—double down on what makes you unique
Become an evangelist for scaring away the wrong customers, the people who have no interest in what your company provides or what your organization stands for.
A newsletter I would suggest you name your first-born after, Why Is This Interesting? recently published an article talking about a Japanese bar owner who goes out of his way to discourage the wrong customers from showing up at his place. (Big ups to the legend Aaron Lewis for suggesting this newsletter to me. While you’re in these parentheses, check out one of my favorite articles of his, “Inside the Digital Sensorium.”)
To put it simply: Kobayashi doesn’t want you darkening his door if you’re not a true audiophile. No tourists, no compulsive Instagrammers, no kooky wanderlusts that found his bar on a list of secretive speakeasies. He creates a “cool table,” a veritable “members-only” club for the true music head. By barring the wrong people, he creates a more welcoming, enjoyable atmosphere for his ideal customers.
In your writing, use words that speak to you (if you’re writing for your own business) or to your brand (if you’re representing a greater entity.) For some reason, our brains love to revert to stuffiness when we’re on the clock. We tend to become “PC Guy” (‘memba him?) when it’s time to write about anything that has to do with our career self.
After all, the second we step into the job world, resume sites are swimming with “helpful” tips, suggesting we present ourselves using generic phrases like “problem solver,” and “self-starter.”
Just like you attract friends you want to spend time with, you want to attract clients and customers that are a pleasure to work with.
Why use overly professional language if you’re more of a breezy, easy-going person or brand?
If you’re a naturally enthusiastic firecracker, why use muted words?
More often than not, your most troublesome customers are just a mismatch for you or your company. So set the right tone from the outset.
From the minute I talk with a new client, I make sure it’s loud and clear that I am a person that is full of joy and gratitude. I even go out of my way to show how bright it’s gonna be by wearing colorful AF earrings, clunky acrylic rings, or personality-packed tops. I write articles for this site the way I would write any: I love energetic words, using fun and surprising analogies, all shared like I’m talking with you at a coffee shop.
If someone wants someone who is a “PC Guy” or a writer with a more scholastic style, the relationship won’t be a match—so why hide?
Avoid comparison and stay the course
It’s so darn easy these days to just take a peek at what your competitors are up to.
Just by glancing at their Instagram page or their recent blog posts, you have a glimpse into their current promotional tactics. Suddenly, your plan feels like absolute trash, and you must be more like them!
Resist the urge to shift your strategy just because you stumble across something sparkly one of your competitors is working on.
They might not have the same goals as you.
They might be targeting an entirely different audience.
They might be days away from laying off half their team.
But before you know it, you’ve mixed a dash of their idea with yours and kablam!—you’ve added a plop of green to your pink windows. What makes you unique is instantly watered down. You end up playing the saboteur in your own game of telephone. By adding in someone else’s voice, you’ve drowned out your authentic message.
It’s like trying to write a song that appeals to all genres.
The silky-smooth R&B bass lines, the bursting energy of an electric guitar…topped with a sugar-sweet pop kiss of reveling in weekend party plans—and oh yes, occasionally interrupted by a few bars of Bach.
You’ve not only created a song that neither Top 40 fans nor metalheads will listen to, but one destined to achieve universal hate. Stick to your voice, nail what your company stands for, toss away anything that detracts from it—and never be afraid to go full pink.