Today I want to ask whether your copy passes the “so what” test. It’s a quick and simple test you can use to critique your copy. But be warned, it involves stepping out of your shoes and into the shoes of your buyer.
Exploring the “So What” Copy Test
Let’s look at how the “so what” test works with some very simple examples. Look at a piece of copy that you feel is a bit lazy or is missing the mark somehow. Something that’s well in need of a reality check. Let’s say that a website’s homepage is emblazoned with “we are industry leaders in [whatever it is that they do]”.
This simple test is to ask – so what? What does being an industry leader have to do with the buyer and their problem? Anyone can say that about their own industry, so it’s not as reassuring as it sounds at first. They would be better off reassuring the reader by acknowledging the problem they solve, or stating something practical about how they soothe those issues.
Another example I’ve seen is something along the lines of “we do everything you’d expect from a [let’s say, quantity surveyor] and we do it flawlessly”. It’s like, so what? I’d expect you to do everything that a quantity surveyor does – that’s why I’m coming to you, a quantity surveyor! And don’t just tell me that you do it well – show me through social proof, testimonials, case studies.
I’ve said it before but it bears repeating – when it comes to highly visible copy – the stuff that’s the first thing a prospect sees on your website, on your signage, vehicle livery, or in your brochure, it should be focused squarely on the problems you solve for your clients – ideally something that makes you totally singular within the market. And if your most visible piece of copy starts with “we” or “I”, then please reconsider!
The “so what” test can also be applied a little more situationally too – I recall a housing development near me (that I think I referenced in an early [now retired] Wordy Weds video) that had a sign saying “when they are gone, they are gone”. But… so what? Is that not how ownership of any finite physical asset works? I understand that they were trying to instil a fear of missing out, but there are so many different ways they could have taken it. These were well-connected, inner city homes with multiple bedrooms and ample parking space, within walking distance of a highly regarded infants school. They could have talked about any of those things!
These are some pretty short and simple examples but the “so what” test can be applied to copy of any length, any style, and any language. It can even help you identify topics for good blog or video content – giving you a way to identify the topics your audience really want to hear about and generally separating the wheat from the chaff.