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The way I see it, your website is the face of your business online.
Sometimes, we think we have to be something more impressive or dramatic.
So we write all these impressive and dramatic-sounding things…all these marketing-shaped words…only to sit back, read it, and think “ARGH! That’s not what I want to sound like at ALL!”
Thankfully, we have a strict No Beating Yourself Up rule around here.
But if you suspect that your website might not be helping you win business online, here are the biggest mistakes to watch out for (and the fix):
(1) Failure to have a clear message. Before you write a word of website copy, you need to know some bare bones information about your audience and their motivation for hiring you. This is because effective copy is about connection, and you can’t connect if you aren’t sure who you are talking with.
At the very least, you need to pick a group of people to “speak to” that have something in common – whether it’s adoptive parents, dentists, women with more than 20 pounds to drop, or C-suite men who golf.
Next, you need to figure out what triggers them to hire someone like you. This is easier if you’ve already got paying clients.
For those of you who are starting from scratch, ask yourself, “what’s the day-to-day urgent problem that people come to me to solve or avoid?” If you don’t know, stop trying to write your website – it’s too soon.
Go out and get some clients, then write copy. (Copy won’t win you business unless you understand why people hire you – and 9 times out of 10, this is about needing more experience serving people before you try to write marketing. Capisce?)
(2) Failure to structure your website in a way that wins business. When I teach business owners how to write websites, I tell them to be laser focused on two things: first, the relationship with their potential customers and second, the sale. But the truth that too many people trying to do business online fail to understand (big fat hint alert) is that the sale won’t happen without the relationship.
I continue to see too many people slap a buy button or their prices on their website, with little to no structure in place to support the sale. Put another way: sales pages don’t sell…your relationship with your list and your audience is what sells. This is why so many people fail with online marketing. They treat people like Objects with Credit Cards.
Here’s what to do instead: keep your website simple – a Homepage, an About page and a Work with Me (or Services) page that lists no more than three ways to work with you. Don’t expect people to call you right off the bat – that’s not how it works.
Instead, put things in place so that you build the relationship with your most likely buyers over time. An Awesome Free Gift with your best content and an invite to apply for an initial session with you are two of my favorites.
(3) Failure to be different. Let’s face it – a lot of people’s websites look the same, especially in the same industry. And worse, a lot of websites sound the same. People trot out the same clichés and tired phrases, repeating them over and over. Yes, I am talking about stock phrases like “taking your business to the next level”… “empowering women”… “women in transition”… “financial security”…. “charging what you’re worth”…
Maybe you can get away with this if your target market is mainstream and mid-market. But if your ideal clients are more discerning – and you charge more than most people in your industry – you need to position yourself as different, unique, and an experience that’s worth every penny of the investment.
The two main tools here are your design and your copy. Now, if you are just starting out, I do not recommend spending your dollars on expensive web design and development. I’d rather you set up a simple site that costs $250 – $3,000, learn about what the marketplace wants from you, then rebrand in a couple years.
I’ve heard horror stories about people investing $14,000 or more for web design or a high end branding process…only to change it 6 months later when they discover how they really want to work with clients.
The biggest bang for your buck is going to be writing your own website copy (if you’re up for it; some people simply aren’t, and have the budget to delegate), and keeping your web design and development costs to a minimum. Full disclosure: I teach copywriting, so I’m biased. But in teaching hundreds of business owners how to write their websites, I see time and time again how the act of writing your own copy teaches you what people need to hear before they get interested in buying from you.
Yes, it takes work to think through your writing and your audience, but it will come back to you in spades. More importantly, you will sound clear and compelling on your website, in a way that few people do!
We’d love to hear from YOU…
What’s one thing you can do to improve your sales copy this week? How can you better connect with your idea audience? Leave your answer in the comments below!