Stepping into the client's shoes: a 3 minute exercise
How's your website working for you?
I've worked with over a hundred clients now and something that often trips them up is getting stuck in their own heads.
The internal (and sometimes expletive-laden external) dialogue goes something like this:
What should I say?
How should I say it?
Will the clients be interested in this?
How much of myself should I put in the words?
Why is this so hard??
Quickly the process becomes overwhelming. The website either doesn't get written or it takes AGES to write. Then, after painstaking creation, the content can still be bogged down with detail or, just as ineffective, there's too little detail or the wrong detail.
If you can relate to this, don't fret! You're not alone and there IS a simple solution. Firstly, what you need to know is this:
If you understand what you're offering and who you're offering it to, these questions will answer themselves.
So, before you do anything, you need to understand what product or service you're marketing.
I mean, truly understand it.
For instance, I provide copywriting, right? Well, yes and no. What I actually often do is boost my client's confidence in their offering (and handily increase their sales). I make their lives easier and help them connect with their ideal clients. And that's not all, but it's not about me ;-)
Your task is to go deeper into the benefits of what you provide. List them ALL, a few 'before and after' ideal scenarios, the process of working with you and why you're providing your service/product. Some of this may end up on your website, but for now, it's just for you.
Next, do some research into the kinds of clients your product or service serves best.
If it's a diet programme, then yes, it will be for those who are overweight, but what else? What age group? Gender? Socio-economic status? Delve deep. What are their fears about the problem? What stops them from solving it? What are their aspirations? How do they feel now and how will they feel when they reach their goals?
Understand that by doing this, you're already ahead of the curve. So many people don't bother - and it shows in their copy, ethos and sales.
Finally, armed with this golden information, do this little exercise.
This is something I do with clients with a draft website waiting to go live, but you can do it with your current website too.
Take 3 minutes to do this:
Pretend you're the client seeing your website for the first time.
Put yourself in her shoes (remembering the research you've done on her profile, motivations and fears) and imagine what she's looking for when she first arrives on your website. Bear in mind, she's probably busy or looking at multiple options and will have limited time.
Now ask yourself:
- How easy is it to find what I want? (Consider clear menus and navigation)
- Does the main headline and sub-header explain what is being offered simply and clearly or is it just clever and vague?
- Does the text look appealing and can I read it/do I even want to read it? (Consider font size and type, bite-size paragraphs, bullets, headers etc.)
- Does this site speak to my concerns and needs or is it too generic?
If you find you can't distance yourself enough to answer these questions, ask someone (your ideal client preferably) to have a look and answer the questions for you. Make sure you and they take no more than 3 minutes.
Why three little minutes?
In reality, a visitor will only take a few seconds to decide whether your site's for them, but if they like what they read they'll be there longer, so 3 minutes is fair for this exercise. Also, if you take longer than 3 minutes you're starting to analyse and go deeper than any time-pressed visitor would which won't give you an accurate real-life client snapshot.
If it isn't easy, clear and fast to see what's being offered - and the benefits - and if it isn't a delight to read, then you'll have to make some changes in line with what the client needs.
But this is a good thing!
It is all too easy to write without thinking of the end user, but this should be your one and only concern. In fact, it makes it all much simpler. It helps you get out of your head and target your words just for them. That's also one of the reasons you'll find marketers and copywriters advocating narrowing your audience down to one type of client - the words become more direct and powerful. And it still doesn't preclude other types from taking an interest either.
So, if your website isn't working for you right now. Try this exercise and let me know how you get on.
To your wonderful words,
p.s. If you'd like me to give you a more in-depth opinion of your site check out my copy critique page.