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January 6, 2014

The ‘We Syndrome’ is Ravaging the Internet — Are You Infected?

So what do you think is wrong with the website? Why isn’t it converting?” Emily asked.

Emily is a young freelance online marketing consultant, and I was a guest on a webinar for Anthill online, one of the largest entrepreneur communities in Australia. I wanted to give something back to the community, so I offered to do free 30-minute website reviews for anyone who registered after the webinar – no attempts at selling anything, just honest feedback.

While the idea sounded good in theory, there turned out to be more people interested in reviews than I had anticipated; for the next three weeks, I was doing back-to-back 30-minute reviews.

“Well, it could be for a number of reasons, but what sticks out to me is that you are suffering from the ‘we syndrome.’”

After doing so many reviews over the past three weeks, I had noticed a pattern emerging. The ‘we syndrome’ is taking over the Internet.

Emily’s website was nice and the design was classy, but the thing just wouldn’t convert.

Why? Because the messaging was all about them.

The key message on the website read something like this: “We provide the best solution to paper management and we pride ourselves on quality.”

Each of the other pages copy read along the same line; “We this, we that, we whatever.”

It was getting out of hand. This was a full-blown case of the ‘we syndrome’ and they needed a cure FAST.

Think of it this way: Let’s say you went out on a date with someone and everything seemed like it was going to go great. Then, the person spent the whole time talking about themselves. “I provide the best,” “I provide quality,” I am great,” – it wouldn’t take you long to switch off, yeah? I assume a second date is out of the question?

Too often, I see business websites do this exact same thing. This messaging leaves the visitor unconsciously thinking, “Well, so what? What’s in it for me?”

Consider this: What is everyone’s favorite topic? Themselves!

So how can we tweak these messages to make it all about the customer rather than the business?

How about this: “Are you struggling with your paper management issues? Are manual processes costing you money? Why not try a free trial to our paper management software? It’s guaranteed to save you time, cut your costs and streamline your business.”

There’s still room for improvement, but it’s much better than what it was. Having worked with hundreds of different start-up online businesses, I am finding the ‘we syndrome’ to be one of the most ubiquitous culprits hindering success.

Is your business suffering from the ‘we syndrome’? Don’t worry, it’s not all doom and gloom — there is a cure.

First, ask yourself this: How can you change your primary messaging so it’s all about your potential customer and not just about your business?

Once you’ve identified their biggest pain point, follow this simple formula:

  1. Are you experiencing + problem + agitation?
  2. Try our + solution
  3. Which will leave you feeling + benefit

Let’s see it in action. “Are you suffering from paper management issues that eat into your time and put you over budget? Try our automated computerized paper management system and experience the peace of mind that comes with automated, cost-efficient operations.”


Change your messages so they talk to the customer, and only then can the ‘we syndrome’ can be cured. Mark Middo is a growth hacker and renowned freedom and lifestyle advocate. Over the past 10 years, Mark has helped boost online revenues for some of the largest companies in the world, including Formula 1, MotoGP and McDonalds. He recently published his first book ‘5 Minute Business’ which rocketed to No. 1 on Amazon in its first week.