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Inside Small BusinessToo many companies fail to make their website relevant through using all-about-me, jargon-laden content that turns away potential customers.

Perhaps the most difficult thing about creating great web content is understanding that it’s not about you.

“We are a young, dynamic and rapidly expanding business focused on delivering solution-based strategies and initiatives for our blah blah blah…”

Sound familiar? I found that statement on a real website - not hard really, given the Internet is swarming with such content. If you’re honest, it may even read a little like the opening line of your own home page…

As a copywriter, I spend a fair amount of time persuading clients to abandon this sort of all-about-me jargon-laden content. While they feel that this approach captures the “essence” of their business, in reality it succeeds in only two things – keeping their legal team happy, and driving away customers.

Why does this approach fail so miserably?

It has an Over-Inflated Ego

People are stressed, busy and incredibly selective these days. They are not interested in reading about you and how wonderful your business is - they want to know what you can do for them. How can you solve their most urgent problem? How can they trust you? Why should they choose you over other businesses offering a similar service?

One of the most powerful things you can do when communicating with potential customers is to make them feel understood. How? By using the same words they do to describe what they need and want. Dig deeper. Pull out the key phrases they use to search for similar products and services online. Find out what they’re saying in forums and product reviews. What excites them? What is relevant to them right now? What has prompted your current customers to buy in the past?

Spend a little time getting to know your customers’ personalities, attitudes, values, interests, lifestyles and behaviours. Find common themes in their motivations, needs and desires. You can use your findings to create content that resonates and creates a reaction.

It’s Meaningless

Terms like “initiatives”, “dynamic” and “solution-based” mean what, exactly? These are vague words with various meanings across different industries. They do not address your potential customers’ emotions, needs or desires.

People respond better when you keep the language simple, interesting and relevant. Remember, you are not in a boardroom talking with fellow industry nerds - you are trying to attract the attention of people who have a need for your products and services. So make it easy for them. Explain what you are offering and why they should take you up on it – as clearly and succinctly as you can.

It’s Ordinary

Trillions of businesses in the world are all competing with one another. If your message doesn’t stand out, potential customers will soon bypass you.

What is your unique selling proposition (USP)? What makes you so different? How will people remember you? Think of some of the greats. Most often, they make a simple promise that captures what they do and why you should choose them...

Domino’s Pizza: “Piping hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less, or it’s free.”

Fedex: “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.”

John West: “It’s the fish that John West rejects that makes John West the best.”

Establish your greatest selling point. Is it a goal, an award, an achievement, your expertise, a guarantee, a special offer, a feature or your level of service? Your USP will become one of the key components in your marketing strategy - the difference that defines you. Make sure it’s a good one.

It’s All Talk

It’s easy telling the world how wonderful your business is, but it’s far more convincing to show them. Photographers don’t tell people what fabulous pictures they take, they show them their portfolio. Anyone can claim to be the best at what they do, but it’s far more credible when they prove it. Better yet, let others prove it for you...

  • Have customers tell their positive stories through testimonials and reviews.
  • Showcase your awards, qualifications and recommendations.
  • Demonstrate your thought leadership and expertise through insightful, original blog posts.
  • Create case studies that tell success stories.

It Fails to Reassure

As well as having needs and desires, potential customers have doubts and concerns. If your content fails to address them, they’ll grow into issues that deter them from taking the next step.

To address these concerns, you need to know what they are. Maybe potential customers are worried about handing over credit-card details for a free trial, or they don’t have the time to fill out long, detailed registration forms. If you understand their doubts, you can create responses to counteract them.

  • Are people nervous about buying online from you because they can’t see or feel the real product? Offer an easy, user-friendly returns policy.
  • Are people visiting your website keen to secure the most competitive price? Offer a ‘lowest price match”.
  • Do your potential customers have trust issues? Include video testimonials from your customers.

Creating interest is just the first step. Most people need reassurance and mollycoddling to get them over the line.

Finally, become what your customers need you to be. It is easy to become swept up in ideologies of what you think your business should be, but if you’re not tuned into what people need and want, how will you be able to connect? Put yourself in their shoes – what would convince you to react positively to your business offering?

By Gemma Hawdon, SEO copywriter, Melbourne

This article first appeared in Issue 15 of the Inside Small Business quarterly magazine, see ICB’s Products and Solutions webpage for a discounted subscription to Inside Small Business.

  • Dated: 22nd February, 2017