How to write copy that gets to the point — without getting obnoxious

How to write copy that gets to the point — without getting obnoxious

When you first meet a potential customer in person, you ease into it. You hang out, schmooze a little, maybe share a cup of coffee, before getting down to business.

But on your company’s website, there’s no time for that. Everyone’s in a rush. Your prospect has a million distractions, interruptions and other things to do. Her finger is poised just above the BACK button, twitching with impatience. She’s ready to bail if she doesn’t immediately see what she’s looking for. Or if she thinks you’re wasting her time.

As we talked about last time, website visitors have three immediate questions when they land on any site for the first time:

  • Am I in the right place?
  • Do they have what I want?
  • Do I feel comfortable here?

You only have a few seconds to reassure them. So your headline and lead paragraph must get right to the point. Don’t be too subtle or “creative.” On the other hand, you can’t seem pushy, desperate or obnoxious.

Here’s how to do it.

  • Make sure your heading and first paragraph make it obvious — instantly – who the page is for, i.e., your ideal customer.
  • Acknowledge their pain, problem or desire. You know, the reason they went Googling in the first place.
  • Assure them you have a great solution, preferably a quick one. We’re all impatient, remember?

This may sound like a lot, but it doesn’t have to take a lot of words. Here’s an example:

“Golfers: Are you sick of hooking or slicing the ball?
Wouldn’t it be nice to hit the fairways for a change?”

In just 21 words, we’ve told visitors that we know who they are (golfers) and what they’re problem is (hooking or slicing their tee shots). It’s also hints that we have a solution (Wouldn’t it be nice to hit the fairways for a change?) which we reinforce in the next few sentences.

Believe me, I know just how you feel. But after years of frustration and expensive lessons, I finally found something that works. What an improvement!

Now my ball hardly ever lands in the rough. I’m making more birdies and fewer bogeys, so I enjoy the game a lot more. In fact, I’ve shaved nearly 10 strokes off my handicap.

Want to do the same?”

Notice the copy hasn’t even mentioned the product yet. We don’t know what it is. (At least I don’t, and I wrote the copy.) The focus is on the outcome, i.e., what they stand to gain if they stick around and buy. And we did all that in less than 100 words.

At the risk of repeating myself, remember what’s going through the visitor’s mind: They just landed on your site. They’ll only stay if you give them a compelling reason (a/k/a benefits). They’re not interested in hearing about you, your company or your widgets — not yet. They just want to know IF you can help them, and HOW, and if they can trust you. So just tell them.

And make it quick.

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