B Y T O M T O R T O R I C I
Why bring in a website writer when you can simply write it yourself?
Well, read on. Then you decide.
It’s true, no one else knows your company as well as you do. But here’s the thing: people with something to sell tend to write with a “sales” sensibility. And that’s natural.
Your prospective customer, however, has the equally natural point-of-view of someone with a problem to solve, a goal to reach, or a responsibility to maintain.
That difference in viewpoint is far wider, and more crucial, than you might think.
In fact, when business websites fail to attract responses from visitors, this is most likely the crux of the problem.
Websites written by company insiders tend to focus on the company itself, its people, its capabilities and deliverables, its history, and its ‘mission’. When that text is passed around to other employees, it gets a thumbs-up, because they of course hold the same ‘insider’ point-of-view.
Make sense? Not yet? Let’s try an example.
Lets say I’m a homeowner who has just discovered – at 10:30 on a Sunday night – that a broken pipe in my basement is spewing water, and the flood is already ankle-deep.
So I rush to the computer, and do a Google search for “plumber.”
I click through on the first search result, and the website headline talks about the plumbing company’s “commitment to excellence.” Well, who doesn’t like excellence, but what I really need to know is if they have 24-hour service.
The next website I land on seems to be focused on the plumber’s company history, and how long they’ve been in business “exceeding customers’ expectations.” Hm, okay, try again.
The next site I click features the plumbing company owner, talking about how proud she is of her loyal employees, because, you know, “people make the difference.”
Finally, I land on a site that seems to understand what I need. The headline might be, “You need a plumber and you need them now. Call for quick service 24/7.”
Thank goodness. For all I know, all those other plumbers may have offered 24-hour service, but they were too focused on what they wanted to say, and not focused on what I needed to hear.
It’s easy to spot websites that were written by company insiders, because they’re filled with the words “we,” “us” and “our.” They want it to be all about them.
As a potential customer, though, I want it to be all about me. In fact, the only relevance your company has is within the context of my family’s or my business’s needs.
That’s why, as a buyer, websites that prominently feature the words “you” and “your” are the ones that resonate with me.
Now, I’m not saying websites should be forbidden from ever using the terms “we” and “our.” It’s just that “you” and “your” should dominate. One approach is to focus the headline on what “you” achieve, followed by a subhead that explains how “we” get you there.
That’s the difference a professional website writer makes.
But let’s step back a moment and recognize that there are actually two types of website writers. The first bunch might pretty much parrot back what the company owner says, maintaining the insider “we” approach, just in nicer words. This will surely appeal to their client, who is, after all, signing the checks.
The second bunch are true strategic copywriters; they challenge the current thinking by digging deeper into the personal universe of likely buyers. Then they translate the company’s strengths from the company’s perspective to the customer’s perspective. These specialists bring real value, because by starting with the prospect’s sensibilities – and frustrations – the reaction they elicit is, “this company gets me.”
And that response, ladies in gentleman, is marketing gold.
Some writers offer to “help the company tell its story.” There’s certainly a place for that. a CEO may be proud of the business they built.
Strategy-based website writers understand that while buyers have some interest in the “story” of a vendor selling their wares, they’re ultimately far more interested in their own story having a happy ending.
Company insiders, as good as they might be at their profession, seldom think in these terms when they’re writing their own web copy. Their words can unintentionally come off as boastful or self-serving, and for today’s buyers, that approach is simply a turn-off.
Strategic website writers start by asking the right questions.
Before one word is written, a good writer will tell the CEO (or a sharp CSR) to put themselves in their typical buyer’s shoes before answering questions about the company’s advantages. The initial response is most often a pause, because they likely hadn’t approached things in quite this way before.
But it’s the way it needs to be approached because quite simply, even though it’s the company’s website, those company insiders are not the intended audience.
Time for a website redesign? It might be, but not for the reasons you think.
When their website is a few years old, a company might get bored with it and decide it’s time for an update. A modern new design. Bright new images. Maybe a new color scheme.
All well and good, but if they simply drop in the text from their previous site, they’re missing a huge opportunity. Their industry, customer mix, marketplace needs, and tech capabilities have likely undergone changes the past few years.
A strategic website writer will know how to help put it all in perspective and develop fresh messaging. In fact, a smart copy refresh is likely to have more impact on their future bottom line than a design refresh.
The best copywriters will also indicate the sequence, segmenting and emphasis of the messages. These techniques can help catch they eye of even short-attention-span visitors, and draw them deeper into the site. The design flows from there.
Now that’s a website refresh worth doing.
Curious about how a professional website writer can take your site to the next level? Get in touch.
About the Author: Tom Tortorici is an Atlanta copywriter and web content writer who helps companies make a genuine connection with their audience. His classes and conference presentations have focused on how writing, strategy and design can work together to grab attention and interest even among readers with short attention spans. In addition to working directly with businesses, Tom regularly partners with web designers and marketing agencies.
Tom Tortorici Inc. | Tom@TomTortorici.com | 770-934-7861 | 3101 Rockaway Rd | Atlanta GA 30341