The Two Questions Everyone Wonders As They Consume Content

A woman lounging at a desk with a typewriter and a bottle of whisky, contemplating what's in it for her.

Wait — what’s this all about?

What’s in it for me?

You might think it’s a bit silly to start the first episode of a brand new podcast posing those two questions, but the truth is, when it comes to creating any type of copy or content, you’re audience is going to ask themselves those two very questions — whether consciously or subconsciously.

Think about it: we all ask ourselves these very questions as we scroll through our social media feeds, scan the subject lines in our email inboxes, and sort through our physical mail after grabbing it from the mailbox. 

There’s limited time in all of our already jam-packed days and we want to make sure we’re investing what time we do have in the right ways.

Which is why each and every time you sit down to write copy for your own business and brands, you need to be able to clearly answer those two questions: 

What is this message all about? 

What’s in it for my audience?

Do you feel confident that all of your marketing copy clearly answers both of those questions? Or, are you worried that your audience is wondering “What’s in it for me?” and trying to decipher what it is you are sharing or selling?

It’s time to get clear and feel confident as you approach your copy.

So, let’s talk copy — do you feel comfortable answering your audience’s “What’s in it for me?” question

And if not, what can you do to improve?

Start with the first message. Is it clear? Can someone easily understand what it is you’re offering? Then, invite your audience in. How can you make your message more about them? How can you include them?

Copy says: Listen in to this episode of the Talk Copy to Me podcast

In this episode, you’ll learn about

  • the meme that Erin cannot for the life of her find online, but showcases the first question in a clear and concise way. Plus, you’ll hear the 2-3 tiny sentence suggestion for improving the meme!
  • a super common mistake small business owners often do on their about pages (and trust me, this absolutely does not answer the “what’s in it for me?” question!)
  • How to improve about pages to include your audience.
  • Why the best answer to most marketing questions is “It depends”

Vibe the overall message I shared about how there’s no one size-fits-all approach to marketing? You may also want to learn more about Tara McMullen and her What Works podcast and What Works Network.

Get to Know the Host of the Talk Copy to Me Podcast Erin Ollila

Learn more about your host, Erin Ollila

Erin Ollila believes in the power of words and how a message can inform – and even transform – its intended audience. She graduated from Fairfield University with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing, and went on to co-found Spry, an award-winning online literary journal.

When Erin’s not helping her clients understand their website data or improve their website copy, you can catch her hosting the Talk Copy to Me podcast and guesting on shows such as Profit is a Choice, The Driven Woman Entrepreneur, Go Pitch Yourself, and Counsel Cast.

Stay in touch with Erin

Read the transcript to learn more about creating clear messages and answering “What’s in it for me?”

*Bots help to auto-transcribe the Talk Copy to Me episodes. We strive to do our best to make corrections, but please forgive us for any typos or confusing phases below.

NOTE: This podcast was transcribed by an AI tool. Please forgive any typos or errors. Episode 001. The Two Questions Everyone Wonders As They Consume Your Content Erin: Hey friends. Welcome to the Talk Copy to me podcast. Here we empower small business owners to step into the spotlight with their marketing and messaging. I’m your host, Erin Ollila. Let’s get started and talk copy. Wait, what’s this all about? What’s in it for me?  You might think it’s a bit silly to start the first episode of a brand new podcast posing those two questions. But the truth is, when it comes to creating any type of copy or content, your audience is going to ask themselves those two very questions, whether they do it consciously or subconscious. Think about it for a second. We all ask ourselves these very questions as we scroll through our social media feeds, scan the subject lines and our email inboxes, and even sort through our physical mail. You know, when we grab it from the mailbox, we look and say, do I want to read this. Is it junk mail? And then we, you know, hopefully recycle the things that we don’t value and we get excited if there is something that we find value or benefit driven.  There’s limited time in all of our already jam-packed days. And we want to make sure we’re investing what time we do have left in the right ways, which is why each and every time that you sit down to write copy for your business and brands, you need to be able to clearly answer those two questions. One, what is this message all about?  Two what’s in it for my audience? When you can answer those questions, you can begin to speak directly to the people you want to connect with, and you can do it in a way that makes them feel comfortable and confident about working with.  So let’s pause for a second and talk about the time investment that you’re making at this very moment. Hey friends, I’m Erin Ollila, the host of the Talk Copy to Me podcast. If you’re wondering what you’re in store for with this show, I’ll keep it simple for you.  The message behind Talk Copy to Me is exactly what it sounds like: If you listen to this podcast, I am going to… talk copy to you — copywriting that is. And if you’re wondering what’s in it for you, well, I hope that you’ll be able to walk away from every episode with some actionable suggestions that you can implement in your own marketing efforts.  As a small business owner myself, I understand the massive amount of copywriting that we need to do to market our goods and services. And unless you’ve studied copywriting extensively, knowing where to start, what to add or how to fix your copy can be utterly confusing. And top secret note — even though I have studied copywriting extensively, it’s really hard to do it for your own business! So I get where you’re coming from.  It’s my mission to simplify all of this for you. But before I begin, I want you to understand that there is no one size fits all approach to copywriting or marketing for your business.  And that is a message that you will hear me say over and over and over. And over and over and over and over again throughout this podcast. What works for one person may not necessarily work for another and a method that one business swears by may crash and burn in a different organization. And if this is a message that you vibe with, I highly recommend Tara McMullen who hosts the What Works podcast. And she also founded the What Works Network, which is a great resource for you to check out.  The truth is when it comes to what works in marketing — and I guess we can say in most things in life, if we’re going to be honest here, the best answer that anyone can give you to those questions that you have is …… drum roll….. It depends.  I know. I know, I know you probably don’t want to hear that.  It depends is the answer, though, which I’m sure if you ask my clients is something that they hear all the time from me.  Often as small business owners, we’ve got to try things out. We need to test hypotheses. We need to adjust as we implement, and we need to learn as much as we can about our customers so we can help tailor our messages to them directly. Which actually brings me back to the very point of this first episode.  There are two questions that everyone wonders as they consume content. Yes, everyone, you included  1. What is this message all about? 2. What’s in it for me? Now for the first question, your audience member is likely making a split second decision decision here. They’re not sitting down and like doing a deep dive on, like, what’s the message about. When I hear that question personally, it reminds me of like my undergrad college days where we like were reading books from literary geniuses and sitting down and saying like, “What’s this all about ?” “Why did the author make these decisions here?” No, no, no, no, no. That’s not what I’m talking about.  I’m talking about that split second decision where they can categorize or put something into a box. Right?  So here’s a quick example for you. And maybe I should pause for a second and give you a little side note. I might as well let you know right now that I love to share examples. So buckle up bud, because I have been known to share some interesting examples.  Back to the example of how a message allows an audience to immediately categorize it last night, as I was trying to figure out what to watch on HBO. I made a, some split second judgements as to what the show is, could be about based on the cover art. There were the Righteous Gemstones. There was Station 11 and many others. But, let’s just talk about one — Succession. I don’t know if you’ve seen the show, but the cover art portrays a large opulent, beautiful dining room with a white family, or at least what you assume as a family, sitting around it. But there is an exception. There is an older male who is standing at the head of the table, looking straight onto, I guess what would assume is, was a camera. If someone was taking a picture. And he’s got like a dominating body stands.  So the design, if I’m going to do that split second decision makes me automatically think like “daddy issues”, and when you pair it with the title of the show — which is Succession — it’s easy to assume that there is a toxic family dynamic in play here. And those people who are seated will be vying to take over that standing man’s role, whatever that role is now.  Friends, I have seen Succession, every episode, and that’s basically the complete plot of all three seasons. And my point here is simply that with any type of content, whether it’s written audio or video, the message needs to be clear and concise so the audience can easily categorize it in their brains and decide whether or not they’re actually interested in learning more. Which brings me exactly to where I want to be for the next point. Question number two. What’s in it for me?  All right, friends. I’m going to pause here for one quick second, and we’re going to talk about what’s in it for you right now. So to celebrate the launch of the Talk Copy to Me podcast, I am doing free website reviews for all of my listeners. If you want me to review your website, just go to my show notes, grab the link, and give me your name, your email, and your website.  Then I’ll hop on over to your site and I will tell you what’s working what needs improvement and basically some actionable tips that you can put in place right away to improve your website and your website copy. But let’s get back to the show and talk about the what’s in it for me, for your audience.  I’ve been in business for almost six years now. And during that time I’ve worked with billion dollar brands. Self-started solopreneurs, and just about everything in between those two. Well, one of the most common mistakes I see in marketing copy is when the audience isn’t factored into the message for big brands. This often comes across in sales copy, especially really short copy, like taglines or product descriptions and a variety of different advertisements. Usually the mistake here is trying to be too clever or trying to show off. Now I really wanted to share this one particular meme with you, but unfortunately I can’t find it, so you’re going to have to bear with me as I make a complete mess out of describing it.  Basically it was like an advertising fail meme. And what you see is a closeup image of like a sidewalk store. And I believe what they’re selling are colorful umbrellas. But here’s where it gets interesting. The signage on the storefront says something to the effect of let’s throw some air quotes here “Company X is a global award-winning leader in….” finish that sentence for me. And I honestly can’t remember what it says exactly, but it sounds like that.  Now tell me first, what’s the message here, and how does that statement describe what it is? Second, how does it invite the reader in? What they should have done is just say, “Hey! Don’t get wet! Get an umbrella!” Right? I mean, instead of being clear and concise, they wasted their one chance to pull people in.  Now let’s shift away from advertising failures and talk about the ways small businesses often fail to answer the what’s in it for me, question. The quickest example that comes to mind is the about page. Instead of reminding readers why the business or a business owner is best suited to help them, oftentimes the about page reads like a mini memoir. You’ve seen it. I mean, I see it all the time! And I know that when I say this, you can immediately understand what I’m talking about.  One of my business, friends sent me a message today and asked if I could take a quick peek at her about page that she had just updated on her website, and I did.  And to be honest with you, she did an excellent job, but I had one recommendation for her and it was to work on removing the word “I,” at the beginning of her sentences, especially in the Hero section.  Now, when I say the word, I mean the actual letter, “I” not, like “eye” as in eyeball.  If you’re a small business owner and you’re listening to this, pause, this episode, type your URL into a new tab on your computer and see if your about page starts with something like, “hi, I’m ,insert your name” OR “I’m a .”  It’s honestly very common. Most business owners — especially when they’re writing their own copy —start by introducing themselves immediately on their about page. But by doing so you’re not giving your audience the chance to self identify that they’re in the right spot. Of course your audience is smart enough to understand that when they click on a button that leads them to an about page, they’re going to learn about you. But why not go the extra step and factor them into your messaging?  All right. We’ll do another example. If you’re an interior designer, let’s say, instead of opening an about page by saying, “Hi, I’m Jennifer and I design timeless homes for growing families,” which honestly isn’t all that bad because they describe who they’re serving at the end of the sentence… But bear with me. Instead of saying that, let’s immediately speak to your audience. That interior designer could instead say, “You deserve a home that makes you feel comfortable, safe, and most of all, happy. Allow me to bring your vision to life.”  I mean, I’m totally making this up off the top of my head here, but the point is you’re speaking directly to the people who are actively trying to learn about you.And when you include them, it’s the spark that begins to build a connection between you two.  All right. So before I go on a tangent about, about pages, let’s circle back to the two questions your audience is asking themselves when they come across your marketing one more time.  What is this message all about, and what’s in it for me? The next time you sit down to craft any copy for your business, ask yourself if the answers to those questions will come easily to your ideal audience. Will they be able to clearly understand what it is you’re offering or sharing with them? Will they see the potential benefit they get if they invest their time or money in you?  If you can’t answer those questions, well, I hate to tell you this, but neither can your audience.… Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Talk Copy to Me. If you enjoyed spending your time with me today, I would be so honored if you could subscribe to the show and leave a review. Want to continue the conversation? Head on over to Instagram and follow me at erinollila Until next time friends.
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