September 14, 2011
So you have your brand spanking new diploma in your hand, and you are ready to hang your shingle out and open for business. But wait – you know you need a website. So at that point you might invest several hundred pounds (at least), in getting someone to create the perfect website. The colours are stunning, the graphics are amazing. Perhaps it has a nifty little flash thing going on in the header with a montage of meaningful photography. It goes back and forward between you and your designer for weeks, tweaking it till you get it just right.
Then… oops – you need some copy. So you bang something out, get your designer to drop it in for you, and press the go live button. Then you wait. Perhaps for a very long time. I’m not saying your design and branding isn’t important. If you are selling a creative service such as web design, graphic design or photography, then probably it’s very important. Nevertheless, there are a few key things you need to check in your copy, or your website will never work as hard as it should for you.
When people buy stuff, especially intangible ‘stuff’ like coaching, the question that is always in their minds is ‘What’s in it for me?’ Yet again and again websites and promotional material talk about you. It’s never about you. Just because you think you are great for coming first in the class, your client doesn’t care. They probably don’t care about all those professional organisations you are a member of either. They want to know if you understand their problem and can solve it for them. They want to know the benefits of working with you.
Use Carrots and Sticks
People have different preferences around motivation. If your personal preference is to move towards nice things, then that will be reflected in your writing. However, for a lot of people, they need to feel pain before they will take the first step. So ensure that you understand the pain that your client is facing and talk about how you can solve that – and what will happen if they carry on as they are.
Cut the Jargon
Between any group of people, jargon and abbreviations can be a useful short-hand for communicating what you mean. Your client doesn’t know it, doesn’t need to know it, and certainly doesn’t want to feel confused and patronised by it. Write normally, as if you were having a conversation.
Cut the Fluff
It’s a rare person who lies awake at night worrying that they are not in touch with their authentic selves. I’m not saying that they aren’t disconnected, and that the disconnect isn’t causing them unease – but that is not how they will describe it to themselves. Spend some time talking with your ideal client and discover how they talk about their problems. Use the same language in your website and marketing materials.
Write for the Screen, Not for Paper
People appear to read differently on screen, and you need to provide landmarks for them to hang onto. Use a clear font, at least 12 point, in a sans serif font (ie, a font without twiddly bits on the letters). Have lots of white space, use spaces rather than indents to mark paragraphs, and pick up key points with bold, bullet points, and numbering. Keep paragraphs short – if they are running over 6 lines, go back and shorten them.
Tell Them What You Want Them to Do
The very least you want every visitor to your website to do is to sign up for your free giveaway. So have a sign up box on every page of your website, along with an entry or exit pop up. Have your contact details easily accessible on the site. A contact form will help minimise spam. Don’t do a ‘click here’ link to your email address – fewer and fewer people are using Outlook these days, and it is very frustrating to be using a web based email client and discover that you have no way of discovering the email address unless you install Outlook. Tell them that if they have the problems you outline on your site, then you should talk, and tell them how to contact you.
Don’t Delay List Building
If you aren’t sure exactly what you want your website to say, simply set up a squeeze page initially, and then start list building with your free offer.
Over to you!
Go and have a look at your own website, and run through the checklist below:
1. Is your copy aligned with what you actually do?
2. Check how often you use the words ‘me’ and ‘I’ rather than you – there should be many more of the latter.
3. Cut out the corporate speak – it fools no one. You are (presumably) not a member of the British Royal Family, so there is no need to use ‘we’ when you mean ‘I’.
4. Strip out all the jargon.
5. Re-write in the words your client uses to describe their problems.
6. Have a clear call to action.
Joyce Campbell is the creator of The Get More Clients System and http://www.TheGetMoreClientsSystem.com. She works with service-based solopreneurs to help them get more clients, make more profit and reach more people. Visit the website to get her free e-course, Six Steps to Ramp Up Your Online Presence. She is also an NLP trainer and author of How to Get Off Your Backside and Live Your Life.