Strategic use of the F-Word

Last year, I used the F-Word in a piece of client work.

Actually, it was the present participle, “f***ing”.

And the reason why neatly captures the difference between ‘conversion-heavy’ copywriting, and the kind of strategic work I prefer and recommend.



You know conversion work when you see it, because it’s usually making HUGE promises or stressing you out.


“Your competitors are already using <insert hyped service> to buy/steal/destroy your business, your kids, your kids friends…”

“This is a Limited Time Offer. Don’t lose your chance to blah blah blah…”



In this case, my client had a problem.

His product looked too good.

My wife and I had a similar issue in 2003.

(Not physically alas – with our house.)

Our second child had arrived, and it was clear we needed to leave our tiny cottage for somewhere bigger.

But selling it was tough. It wasn’t just tiny, it also had very low ceilings (down to 5’6’’ in some places).

We warned, but still the giants came… massive 6’’ house-hunters who would never (ever) buy our house.

Because the photos were too good.

Our cottage looked like the dream of country living, and that dream washed all common sense away.

So we ended up having to solve the problem over and over and over again, at the place where it was least convenient … our family home.


My client (in 2020) has a similar issue.

The photographs of the service he provides are outstanding.

Seriously, they look like a mixture of freedom, adventure and the person you always hoped you would be.

So good, in fact, that they might also easily attract the wrong kind of prospects.

Which leads us back to the use of f***ing.

Because, like living in a house with low ceilings, my client’s service is not easy.

His clients experience long days of discomfort and are forced to work with, shall we say, plain speaking people.

If the F-word discomforts them, they will likely not enjoy the experience.

So a big part of his story, is putting the wrong people off.

The F-word is a calculated part of that.

It’s an example of solving a problem upstream.

(Rather than in your front room, while your wife is trying to breast feed a baby).


Think about it this way.

The story is part of my client’s funnel.

He could remove the F-word, choosing to reduce friction in his sales process.

That is what a conversion-focused copywriter would do.

But if we’re building something for the long-term, a story-driven business… we’re not focused on sales.

(At least, not as many as possible RIGHT NOW.)

We’re focused on creating happy customers.

People who will be glad they bought what you are selling, and happily spread the word.

The f***ing long game, my client and I might say.