Freelance life, Maslen on Marketing

The bad word I no longer use

I have spent years running workshops and writing books in which I have advised copywriters to forget about writing to an “audience” and, instead, focus on their “reader”.

That’s OK as far as it goes, because my intention was to implant the idea of a single person not multiples when you’re selling.

The problem is, “reader” itself implies a level of commitment that may not (probably doesn’t) exist.

It also can suggest that you are a “writer”, which in turn leads us into murky waters where creativity takes precedence over cold, hard cash.

I am writing the manual for the new web-based copywriting course we’re launching in September, and I have made a conscious decision NOT to use the term reader for the person on the other end of your copy.

From now on, I am using a very old term that every sales person would use and understand…


Prospects are still individuals, but they are potential buyers of your stuff, not consumers of your writing.

Prospects have needs: readers don’t. Prospects have objections that you need to overcome: readers don’t. Prospects have … money.

And I’m telling you this because

Prospects are what you have just before you have customers. And customers pay the bills.

Still refer to them in the first-person singular – you. Still write well, and interestingly. But keep your real goal in mind. To convert them into a customer.

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