My Search for the SCIENCE Behind Why You Have to Use Your Customer’s Words...Even if You Hate Those Words

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Disclaimer: This is not the blog post I had wanted to write.

What I had wanted to write was a blog post proving that using your customer’s words made for more effective copywriting and content creation. (Aside from the SEO implications, that is).

Instead you’re getting this post. I’m inviting you to join me in asking the perpetual question: “How the hell do you know?”

“How the hell do you know?” - the question I forgot to ask myself

If there’s one thing I’m obsessed with, it’s asking, “How the hell do you know?”

I don’t think there’s a more important question you can ask, these days, when you’re consuming information. There are so many lies. So much wrong information. If it comes up in conversation I turn into Lewis Black and start ranting and waving my arms.


Except I forgot to ask “How the hell do I know?” recently, when I wrote:

The secret to writing copy that turns into cash is using the same words as your customer. Even if you hate those words!

Not one, but TWO people called me up about this section.

“I read what you said about using my customer’s words even if I hated them. I hate that they describe my work as [information redacted] but when I read that I said to myself, ‘Damnit, Jenn is right, I sooo don’t want to use their words, but I will now. I will.”

Hearing my words repeated to me made me pause. “Well that was pretty f-n glib of me, wasn’t it?” I the hell do I know, anyway?

So I went on a search to find out why you should use your customer’s words.

First I have to tell you how disappointed I am in other bloggers

I’m not kidding - I spent 2 hours just searching through Google and reading articles and then refining my searches just to find why you need to write in your customer’s language.

I didn’t find anything other than lots of assertions that this was true. Blogger after blogger exhorting us to “use their words!”

Repeat after me: “How the hell do you know?!”

And then I fell for the bullshit

Then I switched over to Google Scholar because I wanted studies and peer-reviewed articles which, by the way, I never did find. But eventually I hit WHAT I THOUGHT was paydirt: the book Neuromarketing: Understanding the Buy Buttons in Your Customer's Brain and I am NOT linking to this book, on purpose.

I had even looked through the Resources section to protect us all against pseudoscience.

I’m embarrassed to admit this scored an 81% on the Jenn Whinnem Confidence Meter.

Next I have to tell you how disappointed I was with the so-called “science” in this book

I was excited when I started reading, because there was a lot to back up the idea of “use their words.”

But as I read the book I grew uneasy. So many assertions about science but no references to anything other than business books, mostly. Finally I had to admit that there were references to Neuro-Linguistic Programming and I ALSO had to admit:

All I really know about NLP is that pick-up artists use it to try to trick people into sleeping with them. GROSS.

So I looked it up and discovered NLP is widely dismissed as pseudoscience. And that’s when I set the book aside.

It’s also when I stopped writing the blog post I had wanted to write. Why? Because it had failed the sniff test, and I was going to need to do A LOT more reading before I could tell you why this approach works.

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So, do you still have to use your customer’s words? YES

“How the hell do you know, Jenn?”

Because Search Engine Optimization, baby.

For example: I don’t like to think of myself as a “blogger.” (This is basically why.)

But...I am a blogger. More importantly, I have written hundreds of blogs for clients. I would also like people to hire me to write their blogs.

So, like it or not, I’m going to have to use that word.

I also hate “content marketing.” Because as I say elsewhere on my site,

That’s why average, everyday “content” is never enough, because most content isn’t doing its job. It’s just sitting there like a lump on a log. (Which is hilariously my favorite imagery.)

But I’m going to have to use that phrase because:

  • I want people to find me when they’re looking to hire for blogging / content marketing
  • I want people to see that I offer those services when they skim through my site


My friend, I wouldn’t ask you to do it if I didn’t have to do it, too.

Wrapping it up, b: your takeaways

All you need to know is:

  • “How the hell do you know?”
  • I’m going to keep looking for SCIENCE, if there is any,* about why using your customer’s words is good for business

Join me in sucking it up and using the words you hate! 

Jenn Whinnem