How The “Want-Ad Syndrome” Is Keeping You Small

want-ad syndrome

Are you currently afflicted with the Want-Ad Syndrome?

This might be the first time you're hearing of such a thing. By being aware of this limiting characteristic/behavior you can now decide to do something different. Stop playing small in your business and certainly in your life.

How To Identify The Want-Ad Syndrome 

Have you ever seen a newspaper want-ad section? Are you too young to remember such a thing? Maybe you are like me and remember placing ads in the want-ad section when you had something to sell?

The want-ad section of the paper was filled with these tiny square boxes advertising things people either wanted to get rid of or buy. The page itself in the paper could be overwhelming to look at because it was just a big block of mini blocks of text. No one box really stood out from any of the other boxes. 

Do you ever wonder if you’re standing out from everyone else doing what you do? Is your unique perspective/offer translating to your ideal client? Or are you just a tiny square box among a sea of other tiny square boxes? Do you sound like everyone else regardless of what you’re selling?

Want-Ad Syndrome Language

There’s a certain pattern of language people with the Want-Ad Syndrome use. This language shows up in their marketing and when they speak about what they do. There are so many people using this language pattern that it's unlikely you have any awareness of having the syndrome yourself.

Learning how to use language to pique curiosity, invite people to do business with you, and close a sale are the fundamentals of what you learn when we work together. When you don't understand how the language you use impacts the impression you make, you're most likely repelling prospective clients from hiring you.

The Want-Ad Syndrome language starts with these two words: “I want”. Think about it. How often do you hear entrepreneurs using this language in their messaging? They say things like,

“I want to help…”

“I want everyone to (fill in a big, bold statement like ‘love themselves')”

Or, “I want people to know…”

“I want you to…”

“I want to change the way …”

Or, “I want to invite you to…”

So, knowing this, are you a casualty of the Want-Ad Syndrome? Take a look at your website, your social media posts, your emails, etc. Count how many times you use “I want” in your messaging.

Why This Language Keeps You Small

You might be wondering what's wrong with this language. Especially since so many people are using it, why shouldn't you? For those that agree with the last sentence, the first reason is right in the sentence itself. It's time to stop sounding like everyone else. When you sound like everyone else, you become a tiny box in a sea of tiny boxes and your message gets lost.

People who follow my work know my philosophy is based on relationship selling. Your “wants” are not relevant sales language because sales is not about you, it's about the client.  That's not to say, you are not important or that you shouldn't have “wants”. You absolutely should and deserve to have your deepest wishes come true. However, those wishes, those “wants” are for you to discuss with your coach, your biz bestie, your support system, not with your clients.

The harsh truth is your prospective client isn't interested in what you want. They are interested in what they want. So why are you telling prospective clients what you want for them? Instead, show them how working with you is going to get them what they want.

Amateur vs. Pro

This Want-Ad language got me thinking about affirmations, missions, and goals. One of the keys to successful affirmations is learning to state them in the present tense. You don't say “I want” in your affirmation, you say “I am..”, “I do..” and so on. The next time you're working on your languaging, ask yourself, ” Would this statement qualify as an affirmation?”, if not, you might need to rephrase it.

Last week as I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, the hosts were sharing about some changes they're making to their business. They had set this huge new goal for themselves. As I listened to them, it was so clear these people are true professionals. They weren't' saying, ” We want…” They made statements like, “The mission of our company is …” and “The goal is ….”.

It's the difference between a true professional/expert at what they do and someone who still sees themselves as an amateur. Maybe it's time for you to stop playing small in your business and step into your role as an expert. The language you're using is either going to support your mission/vision or it's going to detract from it. Learn how to switch up the language and give up the “I want” statements.


Wishing you continued success this week.





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