The Polished Turd Test

white and red no smoking sign

We’ve all done it – spent hours twiddling and tweaking a piece of <img decoding=” /> copy which should just get flushed away.  

But no matter how long we spend polishing that piece of <img decoding=” />, it will still smell bad and is more likely to repel rather than attract potential clients.  

Making the crucial decision to pull that flush and just get rid can be hard. If it’s our own copy, it’s likely that we’ll have invested time and money in writing it. And no one likes feeling that their time and money is being wasted.  

Just remember, that the time and elbow-grease you spend polishing a turd is a much greater waste.  

So, what are the red (or should that be brown?) flags revealing you have a turd on your hands?  

The Polished Turd Test

If you want submit your copy to the polished turd test, you need to ask yourself some important questions. If the text you have written does not clearly answer the four questions below, you may have something brown and sticky to deal with.

    1. Who do I want to help?

    1. How can I help them?

    1. What’s my focus here?

    1. What’s my call to action?

Let’s look at these questions, one by one.

Who do I want to help?

The first question is probably the most important. And it is concerned with your audience. If your audience are luxury tourists, your copy is going to be very different from what you might write for eco-adventurers. Being one hundred percent clear on who you are writing for, and keeping them in mind throughout the writing process, will ensure that your copy has a consistent tone.

It can be helpful to have a clear vision of your ideal client. John Espirian, in his super-helpful book Content DNA (2020), suggests creating pen-portraits in which you consider your ideal client’s characteristics. These can include:  

    • gender

    • occupation

    • education

    • interests

    • political beliefs

This might seem like a time-consuming approach, but it really does help you to maintain a consistent and appropriate tone. There’s also a significant amount of evidence to suggest that pen portraits help to increase customer engagement.

How can I help them?

What exactly are you offering your audience? A walking tour? A wellness retreat?  A package for solo travellers? Being one hundred per cent clear about what you offer customers allows you to convey this to your readers and viewers with equal clarity.

Be explicit about what you are offering, you can’t expect people to fill in the gaps or mind-read on your behalf.

What’s my focus here?

Even if you have multiple offers, you should focus on only one offer per social media or blog post. Always remember the old adage, ‘confused minds don’t buy’.

What’s my call to action?

What do you want your audience to do? Comment on your post? Subscribe to your YouTube channel? Follow you on a specific social media platform? Make your call to action crystal clear.

If, on reading your marketing copy, you find yourself struggling to answer these questions, it’s probably time to flush it away. But you can always start again, keeping the four questions above forefront in your mind.

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