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Beat the stuffing out of your website!

I’m a woman on a mission: I want to stamp out unclear, unproductive, “stuffy” language on business websites! And I’m doing it, one client at a time.

Take, for example, one of my clients, a real estate-related firm preparing for a new marketing push. The company was under new ownership, and one of the first things they wanted overhauled was their website.

They recognized, intuitively, that the old copy didn’t really speak to the three distinct audiences they wanted to reach. So they asked me for help.

Right off the bat, I recognized the copy needed to focus on the people they were marketing to – real estate agents, homeowners, and prospective home managers. These people aren’t looking for a “new innovative, dynamic marketing strategy,” as the old home page copy trumpeted. They want to know what this company could do for them – how it could solve their problems, relieve their worries, save them money.

So here’s how we approached the task:

Before: Website circa 1990s

The problem: As the new owners described it, the existing website, which was “state of the art” five or six years ago, was now out of date.   And since they were looking to appeal to an upscale clientele, they not only needed a visual makeover, they needed brand-new copy to speak to their affluent, sophisticated audience.

While one of their in-house web designers tackled the visual aspect of the site, I took a stack of their marketing materials and began work on the text.  The goal: solid benefits-focused copy that spoke to three distinct audiences:

    * Real estate professionals who have vacant properties for sale
    * Homeowners who need to have their vacant houses staged for quick sale
    * Prospective home managers
After: New layout, new sales-oriented copy

The most obvious problem with the old copy was that it focused on features (i.e., what the company does), not benefits (i.e., what customers gain).  It didn’t speak to the things that concern its readers: the anxiety that homeowners have over leaving a vacant property on the market, the hassles real estate professionals experience trying to sell empty houses, and the desire of prospective home managers for affordable and comfortable temporary housing.

So the “teasers” on the home page start with these needs and how the company meets them.  Then the individual pages addressed to these separate audiences expand on those themes.  Contrast this with the old home page’s vague opening line about the company’s “innovative, dynamic marketing strategy.”

Lesson: Here it is again – the classic benefits vs. features discussion.  Your customers don’t care what you do – they care what you do for them.  It’s not an esoteric point.  Let them know why you’re the solution to their problems.  Don’t leave it to them to figure it out.

If you’re looking for sales-oriented web copy that speaks your customers’ language, contact me today for your free consultation!

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