Listening to your readers and customers is good. Being smug about it isn’t.

arrogant man about to fall

Last week I wrote about how I’m putting together a new course on writing headlines for web content, social media and email marketing.

At the end of the post I asked readers to email me with their suggestions on what should be included in the course, and which questions about writing headlines they would like to see answered.

When I extended the invitation, I was thinking maybe I’d pick up on a few points and questions I might have missed. Truth be told, my slide deck was pretty much done and I was almost ready to start recording.

I just wanted to be sure I hadn’t missed anything big or obvious.

In hindsight, I can see I was being a little arrogant. A little smug. I thought I was 99% there. I just wanted people to help me fill in the last 1%.

But it turns out my course wasn’t ready for me to start recording.

People were incredibly generous with their time and suggestions.

And once I looked at all that feedback in aggregate, it became clear to me that I still had a lot of work to do. In fact, I have gone back to the drawing board and am in the process of restructuring the entire course.

The work I have already done isn’t being wasted. But I need to put everything together differently. And there is plenty of new information I need to add.

Sooo… if you were one of the many people who wrote in with your thoughts and suggestions… THANK YOU!

The point is, I nearly blew it.

When you set yourself up as a subject matter expert, it’s all too easy to get a little smug about things.

“Hey, I’m the expert here.”

So when I reached out for input, I suspect I was looking for validation more than anything else. I wanted to look at people’s suggestions, tick the boxes in my mind and think, “Yep, my course has all that covered.”

Like I said. It didn’t work out that way.

My course will be very different and, I think, a whole lot better, because of so many people’s generosity.

For me, this is a big lesson learned. I’ll try not to make the same mistake again.

But, of course, I’m not alone in being a little smug and lacking in humility sometimes.

A lot of companies pay lip service to the idea of listening to their audiences and customers. But most really don’t have their hearts in it.

Listening is hard work. And if what you hear runs counter to your internal strategies and plans… well, who wants to open up that can of trouble?

The point is, listening isn’t an easy thing. And asking questions should never be a ‘cosmetic’ thing – done just to make you look good.

But if you make a real commitment to paying attention to what people say, the benefits to your business can be significant.

Listening is good. Acting on what you hear is even better!

And thanks again to everyone who helped me with my course.


Writing for the Web

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