The spotlight is on you. It is a new client demo, and you pull up the slide deck. You are on slide three before you notice it. The wrong client info is in the deck. This info is from last week's demo! You quickly double-check the file name, but nope, the correct file. Some of the information didn't get swapped. You panic slightly, wondering if all the info in the deck is wrong or only slide 3. You have fallen into Copy-Paste Syndrome.
In pursuit of efficiency, many occasionally fall prey to Copy-Paste Syndrome. In fact, in the medical world, copy-paste mistakes contribute to 35.7% of medical chart errors. A small error might be embarrassing in sales, but significant or chronic errors can ruin the client relationship. This blog discusses Copy-Paste Syndrome and how to avoid it across different formats, including automation. Don't let the detrimental effects of Copy-Paste Syndrome affect your sales success.
There is no singular origin for the term "Copy-Paste Syndrome." It emerged suddenly into use over a decade ago. Though mostly self-explanatory, Copy-Paste Syndrome is a colloquial term that came about to describe the tendency of individuals to copy and paste mindlessly without customization. It is also used when a template hasn't been customized correctly. Or when a presentation re-usees slides without adjusting information.
While the use cases are broader than these two examples, the concept is the same across the board. Some or all of a work was copied and then pasted without being correctly adjusted to add unique information or perhaps without removing parts that are not relevant for that client.
In the world of sales, correct names and correct details count. They are part of the relationship management process, and if you fall prey to Copy-Paste Syndrome, you risk your reputation and your future business. Authenticity and genuine connection are the cornerstones of effective sales. With this in mind, let's look at a few specific cases of Copy-Paste Syndrome in different sales areas and how to avoid or prevent it.
We discuss presentations first, as mistakes in this arena are usually the highest stakes. Clients might forgive a forgotten name or detail earlier in the sales funnel, but when presentation time rolls around, they expect to be shown effort and desire for their business. Leaving a previous company's logo in the header or misnaming the CEO can make any prospect think twice. While slide decks are often recycled, it is easy to miss a detail when editing your presentation. The following steps are recommended to stop errors before production starts.
Demos are often your highest-stakes interaction with the customer, so they require the most stringent precautions. However, it is worth watching for Copy-Paste Syndrome mistakes in other parts of your work, from cold emails to social outreach to phone conversations. While the suggestions may vary slightly by format, the core concepts will be repeated.
The key takeaways of starting from blank, proofreading, spellchecking, not being a substitute for the readthrough, checklists, and outside eyes verifying will be your most potent tools. Unfortunately, having a second set of eyes on every bit of text you send out isn't practical. It might be wise to have someone review it before you send it to a few hundred or a few hundred thousand.
Have you ever gotten an email that started 'HellO!!! ms. white' when you are, in fact, a Mr. White? You instantly dismiss emails like that or, at least, are put on your guard by them. Capitalization errors, aggressive punct@tion!, and incorrect details are just some red flags we use to filter the spam from our inbox. And only if the spam filters don't find it for us.
Copy-Paste Syndrome hits in an email on a few points, usually with bad templating and bad templates. A template is by its very nature copied and pasted with a few minor things changed, making error risk higher than a typed-out message.
Preventing risk in templates often means 'cleaning' your data. Cleaning means ensuring hyphenated last names are registered as one last name and not middle and last, and adjusting for the middle initials or titles such as 'Dr.' While the error rate is less now than in the past, it is still worth ensuring that your templates are linked to the correct column of data [first name][last name] but that the data source is as free of errors as possible.
Wrong links in emails are another common source of Copy-Paste Syndrome. When multitasking, snagging the incorrect hot link for an email is all too easy. Especially when they are made up of random strings of numbers and letters. It is shockingly simple to paste the wrong Youtube link into an email. You don't want to send a team email of last night's game highlights instead of that tutorial on cold email templating. Luckily this fix is easy; always check your link before you click send.
In October of 2022, Jimmy Fallon's Hashtags segment had one with the hashtag "#textfail," while the topic was personal rather than professional communications, it was filled with standard errors, primarily the wrong person texted, to autocorrect errors, to fumbled fingers, to Copy-Paste Syndrome when copied and then pasted into the wrong chat.
We are all familiar with that pinch of embarrassment from texting errors. Mistakes are inevitable with fast, daily communications. The issue is one of scale, such as when a statewide political campaign mass texted the wrong link to a website not just once but twice; yikes. SMS Marketing mistakes are expensive, generally between $.01 and $.05 per text. This is compared to the much cheaper $0.0009 and $0.001 for mass marketing email. The stakes are also higher because your opt-out rate in SMS is much higher than the Spam filter trap or the Unsubscribe in email.
A similar list of rules applies to SMS as to Demos, specifically steps 1,2,3 and 5 from above. To avoid Copy-Paste Syndrome in SMS marketing, it is recommended to go through the following steps:
Social Media Marketing is a make-you or break-you game. It can feel impossible to compete, especially with such a grueling pace. You need to be on the leading edge of anything that might be a trend, with the average trend on TikTok lasting 3-5 days and likely being oversaturated by the time you hear about it. If you post when saturated or after the 5th day, you are dead before launch.
While B2B, being professional contacts, is less susceptible to these jack-in-the-box trends. It is worth knowing that professional posts have a shelf life and are held to a higher standard on things like 'copying.' If your social posts mirror your competition repeatedly without adding new information, you have fallen into the deepest trap of Copy-Paste Syndrome, plagiarism. It is odd to even conceive of plagiarism in a social media field that is repetitious and copying by nature.
Copy-Paste Syndrome can also risk posting similar things over and over with no innovation. New is needed in social media.
This list helps prevent both these pitfalls when social posting.
If this section has you curious about the 'life' of a social post, here are some fun facts about the lifespan of a social post. This demarcates when the post is seen as 'lost' to the web archives and will not achieve its engagement potential. When is your response and growth window over?
"Hello"….. Have you ever had these messages on LinkedIn or other social messaging services? Just a Hello or a Hello, [Insert First Name Here]? Annoying and ineffective. Equally ineffective is the Hello, my name is [Inster Your Name Here] and a bullet-pointed list of the top 5 awesome things your product does. These are stale and salesy, Copy-Paste Syndrome at its finest.
When reaching out from a social channel, the goal is more about starting a conversation than a sales pitch. There are, of course, templates, structures, and best practices to be considered. For more on that, check out this great article by Josh Turner. [Replace with cross-blog link once we cover the topic] but consider these tips on keeping the Copy-Paste Syndrome grind out of your social messaging.
Verbal communication is also susceptible to Copy-Paste Syndrome. Have you ever accidentally said "Sure, honey" to a co-worker who was not, in fact, your wife? How about a "Thank you" when it should have been a "You are welcome"? Luckily verbal slipups are usually far easier to forgive and talk your way out of. The difficulty usually centers around highly repeated phrases or overly practiced scripts.
The trouble arises when clients interpret your slipup not as the over-practice or mental speed bump it was but as some parapraxis. Parapraxis, also known as a Freudian slip or a slip of the tongue, is a psychological concept that refers to an unintentional error in speech or memory that reveals an unconscious motive, desire, or belief.
Parapraxes are often attributed to the influence of unconscious motives or repressed desires that find their way into conscious expression through these unintentional errors. A client might assume that a slipup on the name of their company means you don't value their business. A slipup from overly scripted cold calling makes it seem that you are not listening to their responses or are robotically trapped in dialogue and, therefore, not a person with autonomy and authority.
Break out of the mold of verbal canned responses. No verbal Copy-Paste Syndrome is needed. Here are some script-practicing tips on how to stop repeating yourself into a verbal blunder.
In conclusion, Copy-Paste Syndrome is more than repetitious mechanical repetition. From finger slips to incorrect right clicks to verbal Non-Freudian Slips, Copy-Paste Syndrome can be problematic for the professional communicator.
As a B2B sales professional, consider working a few countermeasures into your routine. Having a well-planned and planned out sales process can be sidetracked in its early stages by incautious Ctrl+V. These changes also have the benefit of helping you connect better with your customer, not just avoiding the dreaded Copy-Paste Syndrome. With just a few tweaks in technique, you can ensure that every communication feels fresh, engaging, and personal every time, even when it's <Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V>.
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