What a USP Is, Why You Need One ASAP, and How to Create One for Your Service-Based Business So You Can Get More Business, Bookings & Sales [Part 3 of 3]

Photo by Rupert Britton on Unsplash

[This is the final installment of a 3-part series on creating a memorable USP. You can find Part One here, and Part Two here.]

If you’ve already read Parts 1 & 2 (linked above) of this 3-part series, welcome back! If you’re arriving at this post fresh from somewhere out there on the interwebs and you haven’t read the first two installments, I recommend you read those first. 😊

To recap, in Part One of this post on creating a compelling USP for your business, we defined the terms USP (unique selling proposition) and “meaningful difference,” covered how a memorable USP informs your signature marketing message, and importantly, why your signature marketing message is so critically important to the health of your business, and I shared a short excerpt from my guide Marketing Messages That Convert: A Step-by-Step Copy Messaging Guide for Solopreneurs, Freelancers, Creative Business Builders & Other Non-Marketing Types, to help you make sense of it all.

In Part Two, we talked about five ways a stand-out USP will help you get more business, bookings & sales.

In this final installment, I’ll share a few examples of successful unique selling propositions and talk some about why they work, which I hope will give you solid inspiration for creating a great one for your own business.

Let’s get started.

As I mentioned in Part One, it’s unlikely that your product or service is unique in and of itself, so figuring out what makes you different – whether this is your process, your personality, your backstory, your specialization, your target audience, or all of the above (and it’s usually some combination of all of the above) – and conveying that in your marketing will give you a competitive edge.

I call this the “combo platter” test.

Another framework to consider is the “what your business stands for” test.

As Joe Putnam from Conversion Engine, writing in a guest post on Neil Patel’s blog, says:

A unique selling proposition is what your business stands for. It’s what sets your business apart from others because of what your business makes a stand about. Instead of attempting to be known for everything, businesses with a unique selling proposition stand for something specific, and it becomes what you’re known for.

He shares three excellent examples of this USP framework in action: Starbucks, Zappos, and project management software, Basecamp. Check out Joe’s article on unique selling propositions here for more on that.

Examples of Effective USPs 

If you’re anything like me, it helps to see Real! Live! Examples! to make the theory talk gel and show you the way forward.

I love me some examples, so here’s a big ol’ section full of ‘em.

 [*Caveat: When you look at the first set of examples below from our friend Jim Muehlhausen, you might think, “Oh noes! I have to fit my USP into a short, pithy tagline!” No, you do not. Great if you can do it, but my definition of USP is broader than that. See “combo platter,” above.]

In Compare a Unique Selling Proposition to a Unique Value Proposition, Jim Muehlhausen says:

The goal of any great business model is to have a high-profit product that customers want to buy. A highly marketable product is traditionally described as having a unique selling proposition. Whole Foods offers only healthy choices in its stores. Domino’s Pizza grew rapidly because of its super-fast delivery. UGG boots are not only fashionable but also allow you to walk comfortably without socks. These are all unique selling propositions.

Muehlhausen shares a list of other good examples of products with a clear USP and tagline:

  • BMW:The Ultimate Driving Machine
  • Dawn Dishwashing Liquid:Gets grease out of your way
  • Domino’s Pizza:You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less — or it’s free
  • FedEx:When it absolutely, positively has to get there overnight
  • MetLife:Get Met. It Pays.
  • M&M’s:Melts in your mouth, not in your hand
  • Target:Expect more. Pay less.
  • Walmart:Everyday low prices

Want more?

A fantastic resource I love is Corbett Barr’s 10 Examples of Killer Unique Selling Propositions on the Web. I often refer people to this article when they’re struggling to come up with a USP for their business.

Saddleback Leather is one example of a killer USP Barr shares in the article above, saying:

“There is no other leather bag company on the planet like Saddleback Leather This company oozes personality. The website is full of tales of Mexican bullfighting, travel in third-world countries, simple pleasures and touching stories about the owner’s beloved Labrador named Blue.”

About TOMS Shoes, he says:

“TOMS Shoes are quirky, comfy, light and inexpensive. That alone maybe isn’t enough to make a company stand out in the shoe business. The most unique and compelling part of the TOMS Shoes story is that they give a new pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair you purchase.”

Check out the article over on Fizzle.co for these and a handful of other great examples.

Here are a handful of my own favorite USP examples, curated from around the web over the last few years and saved into my personal swipe file:

Hiut Denim 

I can’t even begin to explain how much I adore this company. I would marry this company if I could.

What they stand for?

“Do one thing well. We make jeans. That’s it. No distractions.” 

Their backstory is also very compelling, with a powerful emotional hook. But it’s not contrived. It’s not some made-up marketing B.S. It’s the real effing deal.

Hiut Denim saved a town and its livelihood.

Whether or not you find that meaningful, it’s certainly a story you won’t forget. “Oh, that’s the company that saved the town of Cardigan and got them making jeans again.” 

I mean, sure, Meghan Markle wears their jeans, but in my mind, that’s just a natural result of their extraordinary product and business ethos.

They also have the best weekly newsletter of any retail goods company I’ve come across, called Scrapbook Chronicles. It’s full of compelling stories, creative inspiration, out-of-the-box thinking, and interesting ideas. It’s my favorite thing to read on a Saturday morning.

The Unmistakable Creative 

The Unmistakable Creative is a podcast, blog, and so much more. Podcast host, writer, and multi-published author Srini Rao says about The Unmistakable Creative:

I help creative individuals and organizations bring their ideas to life using research-backed principles from neuroscience and behavioral psychology.

Now, you can argue that’s a value proposition, and you’d be right, but The Unmistakable Creative is a distinctive brand with a stand-out USP.

Srini says about his podcast:

I’ve interviewed bank robbers, drug dealers, billionaires, performance psychologists, New York’s highest paid dominatrix, performance artists, entrepreneurs like Tim Ferriss and David Heinemeier Hansson, and many more, trying to understand what makes some people’s lives so uniquely them – so unmistakable.

The podcast is a treasure trove of fascinating people doing unexpected things, many of them taking decidedly non-traditional paths to finding success, joy & fulfillment in their professional and personal lives.

Definitely not your “usual” business or marketing podcast (though there are many guests who are geniuses at both of those things), which is one of the reasons I find it so compelling.

Anthropologie 

If you want to read an in-depth, case study-like overview of how Anthropologie has developed passionate brand loyalty among its ideal audience, check out the article Sophisticated Sell on Fast Company. 

I read this article years ago, saved it to my “examples of great USPs and messaging” file, and still refer to it often.

The article overview sums up Anthropologie’s unique appeal nicely:

“Why are so many women so passionate about shopping at Anthropologie? Because Glen Senk and his colleagues aren’t just selling clothes and furnishings. They’re selling a sense of adventure and originality — and the promise of self-discovery.”

If you’re a student of effective copywriting and marketing, you’ll know that what we “sell” has less to do with the actual product or service on offer – whether that’s photography, design, art, business consulting, marketing services, or anything else – and more to do with how our products and services make the buyer feel, how our goods enhance or reinforce a perception people have, or want to have, about themselves.

What Anthropologie “sells” is the aforementioned “sense of adventure and originality — and the promise of self-discovery.” (Think about the oft-used example of a mattress: it’s not the mattress itself that’s being sold, it’s a good night’s sleep.)

Their retail stores create a distinct experience. As Anthropologie’s president explained in the Fast Company article, “One of our core philosophies is that we spend the money that other companies spend on marketing to create a store experience that exceeds people’s expectations. We don’t spend money on messages — we invest in execution.”

One of the things Anthropologie does especially well is spend the time and effort to know their core customer deeply, then reflect that in all they do, through every touchpoint of the buyer experience.

“Most stores cater to a broad base of customers or specialize in a product category. We specialize in one customer. And we offer her everything from clothing to bed linens to furniture to soap,” says Anthropologie’s president.

Now that is a distinct USP.

(If you’re on my email list or read my blog, you’ll know that I am absolutely obsessed with beginning the process of determining your USP & signature marketing message by getting to know your ideal client or customer and their needs and desires really, really well. It all starts there. That’s why I love this Anthropologie example so much. I highly recommend you read the entire Fast Company article linked above; it demonstrates how they have done this successfully.)

The Parker Palm Springs 

Hotels. There are a million of them. So how to stand out and be remembered in order to attract your ideal guests?

The Parker Palm Springs does it in a thoroughly captivating way: through the use of a “short memoir” on their website Home page.

The “memoir” shares a day in the life of an ideal hotel stay, from waking and enjoying a decadent breakfast, to exploring the lovely hotel grounds, to spending time at the sparkling pool and enjoying an afternoon cocktail, all the way through drinks & dining in the p.m., and on through to nightcaps the end the evening, and a perfectly delightful day.

The feeling of being transported and pampered the hotel delivers is captured beautifully in their messaging, images and overall web experience. And those rooms! To die for.

What you come away with after visiting The Parker Palm Springs website is a very different experience to most hotel websites, many of which (even for the nicer hotels) feel much more transactional and utilitarian in their approach.

As I like to say, you have to “paint a picture” for your ideal clients and customers, and The Parker Palm Springs does it brilliantly.

 

I hope this three-part series has helped you better understand what a memorable USP is, the importance of creating one for your business, and how to get started devising your own.

My next step suggestion is to begin paying close attention to the brands you’re drawn to, and note why that is – I bet it has something to do with that company’s USP and brand messaging. (For example, I’ve been driving a Jeep Cherokee for years. When I first bought it, I was still living out West after being a life-long East Coaster, and doing a lot of hiking in the mountains on the regular. The Jeep USP and brand messaging aligned with the person I saw myself as at that time – an active, outdoorsy person who doesn’t follow the beaten path in life and likes to do things a little differently.)

Discovering and conveying your USP is essential to business success, especially online where every potential client or customer that could be yours has a world of choices at their fingertips 24/7.

I have more examples of memorable USPs from my swipe file I may share next week, or some other time soon.

In the mean time, good luck with creating your compelling USP and signature marketing message (s)!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What a USP Is, Why You Need One ASAP, and How to Create One for Your Service-Based Business So You Can Get More Business, Bookings & Sales [Part 2 of 3]

Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash

[This is Part Two of a 3-part series on creating a memorable USP. You can find Part One here. Part Three is here.]

In Part One of this mega-post on creating a compelling USP for your business, we defined the terms USP (unique selling proposition) and “meaningful difference,” covered how a memorable USP informs your signature marketing message, and importantly, why your signature marketing message is so undeniably important to the health of your business, and I shared a short excerpt from my guide Marketing Messages That Convert: A Step-by-Step Copy Messaging Guide for Solopreneurs, Freelancers, Creative Business Builders & Other Non-Marketing Types, to help you make sense of it all.

In today’s post, we’ll talk about five ways a stand-out USP will help you get more business, bookings & sales. Then in the final installment of this series next week [Part Three], I’ll share a few examples of successful unique selling propositions and break down why they work so well, which will help you create a great one for your own business.

Ok, so let’s recap a bit:

In Part One, I mentioned that creating your signature marketing message can be approached through use of a “formula” of sorts, which looks something like this:

ICA (Ideal Client Avatar) + USP (unique selling proposition) + your expertise + your life experience & unique backstory + your worldview, applied to your ideal client or customers’ challenges & how you will solve them = your overarching marketing message

You’ll weave this in on your website, blog posts, newsletters, social media updates, and all your marketing communications, wherever you’re in conversation with your audience.

Your signature marketing message is what compels your ideal clients and customers to choose you over all the other choices they have, it tells them why you’re exactly the right person or business to solve their problems and challenges, and it begins to tell them how you’ll do so.

Your messaging should strike an emotional cord with your ideal/desired audience, and make them feel like, “Yes, this is exactly who I want to work with. Where do I sign up?”

Here’s another way to think of it:

The hook/big idea/marketing message of your business answers the question, “Of all the other [thing you do] out there who are equally talented, skilled, and experienced, why should your ideal clients choose you?”

A marketing message that converts will entice your desired clients and customers to take some kind of conversion action, such as subscribing to your email list, signing up for a free consult, inquiring about working with you, making a purchase, or similar.

 

So, let’s say after reading Part One of this post you’re clear on what a USP / meaningful difference is, and you understand how it informs the creation of your signature marketing message. You also get that it’s imperative to begin incorporating your USP and signature marketing message into all your copy online and elsewhere in your marketing communications, so you can stand out from pack and attract and convert your ideal clients & customers.

Once you’ve got that in motion, you’ll start enjoying the following benefits.

5 ways a compelling USP will help you get more business, bookings & sales

A compelling USP attracts and appeals to your ICA

#1: Your signature marketing message is created based on a USP that is meaningfully different in a way your ICA finds appealing, so when expressed in your marketing communications, ideal clients will naturally be drawn to you, and want more of what you have to offer. [I get this may sound like theory, but in next week’s post when we look at examples of great USPs, all will become clear.😊 ]

A compelling USP creates trust with your ICA, and trust = more sales

#2: When you communicate what makes you different from others who provide a similar product or service in a way that resonates with your ICA, they’ll feel seen, heard, and understood. This creates trust. And creating trust is critical to making sales.

A compelling USP helps you create marketing copy faster (and related … helps you make sales even if your copywriting & marketing skills aren’t stellar)

#3: Knowing your ICA well and understanding what your USP/meaningful difference is, means you don’t have to be the world’s most skilled copywriter or marketer to start getting great results from your web and other marketing copy, as long as you’re expressing an enticing USP clearly.

And that means …

You can sit down and bang out copy faster. Get it up on your website or landing page faster. Send out those sales emails faster. And obvs, start making sales faster as a result.

What a bonus!

I still fret over every sentence and word when I’m writing copy for my own business, but because I know my USP and how it’s meaningfully different for my ICA, I can incorporate those elements into my messaging and get the copy out the door so I can make sales now, rather than some undetermined time in the future when the copy is “perfect.” Which it never will be.

True story: my website in its current iteration sorely, sorely needs to be redesigned and upgraded, and I do just fine. In fact, there are many things in my business that need to be improved and upgraded, and there are loads of things I’m not good at, but despite that, I do just fine.

That’s because my marketing message, of which the USP is a large part, resonates with the right people, and enough of those right people reach out to work with me so I can earn a good living.

A compelling USP allows you to create the right marketing message for the right audience

#4: Knowing your USP will allow you to create blog posts, videos, newsletters, email onboarding and nurture sequences, social media status updates, web copy and all other conceivable kinds of content to show off your expertise to your right people with much more ease, instead of spending countless hours in front of your computer pulling your hair out wondering what to write. When the right messaging gets put in front of the right audience at the right time, some of those people are naturally going to buy.

A compelling USP will help you save time, and time = money

#5: When you don’t have to work yourself to a frazzle creating content that establishes your authority and attracts good clients, you’ll free up more time to do other key activities in your business. And as we all know, time is money. Actually, time is a finite resource, and therefore more valuable than money. One way to spend your valuable time well & earn more is to write effective marketing copy faster, which you are equipped to do once you know your ICA + USP.

And as a result of #1 – #5 above?

You’ll convert more sales, because your targeted content & marketing copy demonstrates your USP / meaningful difference in a way your ICA finds engaging, in a way they are drawn to, and in a way that is deeply beneficial to them (which makes it nearly impossible to ignore).

The bottom line is, being one of a kind in your marketplace makes it so much easier for your right people to find and choose you. And you do this in part through a kick-ass USP.

And … that’s it for Part Two.

In the final installment of this 3-part series next week, I’ll share Real! Live! Examples! of USPs that have helped businesses of all kinds develop enormous brand loyalty with their target audience & stand out in their (very often) saturated niche.

My hope is that you’ll look to those examples for inspiration in creating your own memorable USP and the signature marketing message that naturally goes along with it.

In the meantime, if you want to learn more about the process I recommend for finding your USP and compelling marketing message/s, I invite you to check out the Marketing Messages That Convert guide here.

What a USP Is, Why You Need One ASAP, and How to Create One for Your Service-Based Business So You Can Get More Business, Bookings & Sales [Part 1 of 3]

Photo by Ine Carriquiry on Unsplash

[This is the first installment of a 3-part series on creating a memorable USP. You can find Part Two here, and Part Three here.]

“Your USP can mean the difference between success and failure.” Corbett Barr, Fizzle.co, from The Ultimate Guide to Finding Your Unique Selling Proposition

Oh, how true that is.

I know it well, because I stupidly didn’t create a USP (and the signature messaging to go with it) for my service-based business when I first got started online, the result of which was months of wasted time, weeping into my wine on a regular basis, and working myself to a frazzle with nothing to show for it.

I came very, very close to giving up on my business entirely, a story I’ve told before.

If you want to avoid my dumb mistakes, then I urge you to take Corbett Barr’s assertion that “deciding on a USP is possibly the most important decision you can make about your business,” seriously. 

Before we get into the finer points of USPs and how creating a compelling one will help you sell more, let’s talk definitions.

I started my copywriting and marketing career way back in the dark ages, round about 2001.

Since then, I’ve seen/read/heard enough definitions for various marketing terms – USP (unique selling proposition), UVP (unique value proposition), positioning statement, Point of Difference (POD), differentiation, core marketing message, and many, many others – to make my head spin.

Many of these terms are used interchangeably.

Heck, despite my years in the marketing trenches, even I started to feel overwhelmed trying to make sense of it all while researching this article. (And I’ve got the 40-page research document to prove it.)

All of which is to say, there are marketing nerds out there who may disagree about what, exactly, a USP is, but I care not one whit about that.

The important thing to know is that you need to do something to distinguish yourself/your business online, and your USP is how you do that. Because without a compelling USP, you’ll struggle to get any kind of traction at all (been there, done that).

For our purposes here, I define a USP (unique selling proposition) as:

The collection of factors unique to you and your business that compel your ideal clients to choose you over someone else who offers a similar product or service. This will be based, in part, on the kind of clients and customers you serve, and their needs / desires related to the thing you sell.

Now, if you want an “official” definition of what a USP is, here’s one  from businessdictionary.com:

Real or perceived benefit of a good or service that differentiates it from the competing brands —and gives its buyer a logical reason to prefer it over other brands. USP is often a critical component of a promotional theme around which an advertising campaign is built.

Corbett Barr defines a USP like so:

Your unique selling proposition is what makes your business stand out. It’s what makes you different and earns you a special place in the minds of your potential customers.

I like to think of your overall USP as your reason for being. Think about it from your customer’s point of view. With tens or hundreds of potential options out there, you have to answer the question, “why should I buy from you?” ~Corbett Barr

It’s unlikely that your product or service is unique in and of itself, so figuring out what makes you different – whether this is your process, your personality, your backstory, your specialization, your target audience, or all of the above (and it’s usually some combination of all of the above) – and conveying that in your online marketing will give you a competitive edge.

Like brilliant marketer Derek Halpern, says, “It’s not about finding unique ingredients, it’s about finding a unique recipe.”  

Take me, for example. I’m a conversion-focused marketing copywriter specializing in website and email copy, which is not unique in and of itself, but the combination of the clients I serve + my experience, expertise, offerings, personality & style, approach and backstory is.

Meaningful Difference vs USP

As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, newsletters, and elsewhere, I prefer the term “meaningful difference,” rather than USP. This is because often people hear “unique selling proposition,” and get wigged out about the “selling” part of unique selling proposition.

If that’s you, then think of your USP as your “meaningful difference.”

What is a meaningful difference, you ask?

Nigel Hollis, Executive Vice President and Chief Global Analyst, Insights Division, Kantar, defines it like so:

So what’s a meaningful difference? I think of it this way. We humans find it impossible to judge anything in isolation. We tend to compare things to very close alternatives. So a difference, a factor that distinguishes one item from another, gets our attention. And while a difference may be apparent to most people, it won’t seem important to everyone. A meaningful difference is one that is considered to be important—one that provides a brand with a meaning that is likely to have an influence on a person’s brand choice. [Bold highlighting mine]

According to Hollis:

In the absence of a meaningful difference, the cheapest brand may be regarded as the best choice. Lack of differentiation turns brands into commodities and marketing messages into white noise. But a meaningful difference can spark consumer interest and fuel demand for a brand, even when that brand carries a significant price premium. In today’s complex, confusing, and increasingly impersonal world, people cherish meaning wherever they find it, whether it’s in a brand, a memory, or a lump of rock. So to build value, give people a reason to cherish your brand. [Bold highlighting mine]

Think about that – “a meaningful difference can spark consumer interest and fuel demand for a brand, even when that brand carries a significant price premium.” [Italics mine]

Look no further than well-known brands Apple, Harley Davidson, and designer Tory Burch, to see this principle in action.

You could buy a computer, or a motorcycle, or clothes much more cheaply from plenty of other companies, but the cache attached to these three brands because of their position and differentiation in the marketplace makes their ideal customers insanely eager to pay premium prices for them.  Heck, they even line up around city blocks for hours, just for the privilege of paying premium prices, in the case of Apple.  

That’s the power of effective differentiation, AKA, meaningful difference.

[Hollis’ notion of meaningful difference is much more nuanced and in-depth than I have room to talk about here. I suggest you read his article, Not Just Different but Meaningfully Different.”]

How Your USP Informs Your Signature Marketing Message 

Ok, now we’re clear on what a unique selling proposition (USP) or meaningful difference (MD) is.

This is fantastic information to have, because a USP / MD is a key part of your signature marketing message.

And your signature marketing message is what attracts and converts your ideal clients and customers.

What is your marketing message, exactly? Is it your tagline? Your mission statement? Your company’s vision statement? The details of the product or service you provide? A combination of all the above?

The following excerpt comes from my guide, Marketing Messages That Convert: A Step-by-Step Copy Messaging Guide for Solopreneurs, Freelancers, Creative Business Builders & Other Non-Marketing Types

The way I define a marketing message is this: it’s the combination of things about you and your business — that you already possess! — that put together the right way, will help you attract and connect with your ideal clients & customers (your “ICA,” or ideal client avatar), stand out from the online crowd (instead of being a copycat version of every other person for hire out there doing what you do), and, once you’re getting consistent quality traffic to your website, help you get more business, bookings and sales.

It’s created from your ideal client profile, your unique selling proposition (USP), or what I prefer to think of as your “meaningful difference,” your expertise, and your unique backstory, among other things.

So, if it were a formula, it would look something like this:

ICA + USP + your expertise + your life experience & unique backstory + your worldview applied to your ideal client or customers’ challenges & how you will solve them = your overarching marketing message

You’ll weave this in on your website, blog posts, newsletters, social media updates, and all your marketing communications, wherever you’re in conversation with your audience.

Your signature marketing message is what compels your ideal clients and customers to choose you over all the other choices they have, it tells them why you’re exactly the right person or business to solve their problems and challenges, and it begins to tell them how you’ll do so.

Your messaging should strike an emotional cord with your ideal/desired audience, and make them feel like, “Yes, this is exactly who I want to work with. Where do I sign up?”

Here’s another way to think of it:

The hook/big idea/marketing message of your business answers the question, “Of all the other [thing you do] out there who are equally talented, skilled, and experienced, why should your ideal clients choose you?”

A marketing message that converts will entice your desired clients and customers to take some kind of conversion action, such as subscribing to your email list, signing up for a free consult, inquiring about working with you, making a purchase, or similar.

If you want to learn more about the process I recommend for finding your marketing message/s, I invite you to check out the Marketing Messages That Convert guide here.

Ok, that’s it for Part One, folks.

Coming up next week, in Part Two, I’ll be talking about 5 ways a compelling USP will help you get more business, bookings & sales, then in the final installment the following week [Part Three], I’ll share Real! Live! Examples! of USPs that have helped businesses of all kinds develop enormous brand loyalty with their target audience & stand out in their (very often) saturated niche. My hope is that you’ll look to those examples for inspiration in creating your own memorable USP and the signature marketing message that naturally goes along with it.

 

Grow your email list with better opt-in copy using these two powerful tips

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Ah, the power of language.

If you’ve spent any amount of time online, no doubt you’ve come across many an email opt-in form.

Some use language that practically compels you to put down your pricey Starbucks beverage right.this.second, and sign up N-O-W.

Others generate a big ol’ “meh,” and send you scurrying to close your browser tab quicker than green grass through a goose.

You want your own email opt-in copy to be in the first camp, obvs.

What I’ve found far too often, however, is that my beloved audience of otherwise brilliant creatives with drool-worthy goods and services to offer are not converting their website visitors to email subscribers …

… because they’re not optimizing their opt-in form with language that:

#1: Conveys the benefit to signing up for their email list.  

AND / OR …

#2: Lets their personality shine through

Which is unfortunate, because we know that a responsive email list is critical to being able to market effectively and the key to building a thriving business online. 

The good news is, the fix for this is as simple as writing persuasive copy on the email opt-in form that addresses #1 and #2, above.

Here’s the kind of boring, lackluster opt-in form copy that does not get sign-ups:

o “Sign up for updates and special offers”

o “Join my newsletter”

o “Newsletter signup”

o “Join our mailing list”

You know you’ve seen ‘em. Heck, you might even be using that exact kind of generic copy on your email opt-in form right now.

Unfortunately, that kind of copy is a conversion killer (converting web visitors to email subscribers, in this case) because it’s generic and offers no benefit to signing up.  

Plus, it’s entirely lacking in personality.  And let’s be honest – the opt-in form copy above is just plain l-a-z-y marketing.

What you want to do instead is speak to something your audience has challenges with and convey how signing up for your email list will help them solve that problem, i.e., demonstrate value and relevancy to your target audience.

For example, one thing creative service providers often struggle with is getting the right kind of clients – clients who understand the inherent value in hiring a creative pro, and are happy to pay a premium price for that that pro’s services.  

The copy on my own opt-in form addresses that, and offers a solution: 

Enter your email to get instant access to the FREE Creative Rebel Guide to Writing an Ideal Client-Attracting About Page (so you never have to accept work from someone simply because they have a checkbook and a pulse, ever again.)

By the way, the biggest objection/hesitation people have to sales offers – “do I really need this?” – is the same thing they’re thinking when deciding whether or not to sign up for your email list, so you have to give them a clear, compelling, benefit-driven reason to do so.  

You need to be able to answer the question for your audience of “what’s in it for me?”

2 Simple Opt-In Copy Rules* 

(*I dislike “rules” intensely, so let’s just call these opt-in copy “suggestions”)

  1. Demonstrate value and relevance:  be clear about what’s in it for your audience if they opt-in to your list, based on their particular needs and goals – what do they get and how will they benefit from it?
  2.  Show some personality, fer cryin’ out loud 😊

Examples:

#1:  Opt-in copy I wrote for an Interior Designer:

Enter your email below to grab my free guide, “From Chaos to Calm: 7 Simple Steps for Transforming Your Busy Young Family’s Home into an Oasis of Practical Luxury.” (Plus weekly design tips and inspiration I only share with email subscribers.)

#2:  Opt-in copy at Archie McPhee website (I highly recommend reading as much copy on this site as you can – it’s hilarious and brilliant.):

Sign up for the Cult of McPhee Email Newsletter and you’ll receive free monthly emails (normally a $700 value!) announcing our upcoming events, contests and specials. You’ll also get advance notice of our coolest new products and qualify for special members-only deals!

#3: Simple, short and to the point opt-in form copy from Tara Gentile:

Want to know what your customers are thinking? There’s a map for that. Get it!

#4: Funny, irreverent, and totally on brand opt-in copy from Laura Belgray:

Get the only emails anyone likes anymore*

Emails that make you a better writer — become a Shrimper and drink ’em up!

*According to an unscientific but totes accurate study

#5: One-of-a-kind, only-she-could-do-it opt-in copy from Ashley Ambirge:

25 DAYS TO $100K

Freelance Money Mentorship

For new and aspiring freelancers who do not like the action of pinching pennies nor kissing asses.

First Name:

Email:

Reveal First Secret: The $8,000 Rule

You’ll get one lesson from me, Ash, in your inbox every day for twenty-five days. Together, we’ll take your skills and learn how to sell them to other people for a premium rate, doing the work you love, wherever you are in the world.

#6: Opt-in copy from the funny & brilliant business mentor, Matthew Kimberley:

PSST:

Did you know that all of my best writing goes out by email?

Enter your email now and get your own copy of the infamously useful “5 Things You Need To Do Every Morning To Make More Sales In 60 Days”

 

And there you have it.

Can you see how the opt-in form copy in the examples above offers a clear benefit to signing up specifically geared to a select target audience and what they’re struggling with + how they use non-boring, non-generic, personality-centric language?

If you model that, you’ll be in good shape. 

Here’s another blog post I wrote about getting more email subscribers using the [totally free, how awesome is that?!] power of language, by the way:

Want More Email Subscribers? Implement These Two Ridiculously Simple Tips

But hey, don’t just listen to me. 😊

Here are a few other fantastic resources to help you out:

Use this Hollywood Secret to Write Addicting Opt-In Copy (from the esteemed Neil Patel)

Opt-in Copy that Doesn’t Suck: The Criminally Underrated Way to Grow Your Email List (especially useful if you like to nerd out on numbers and statistics)

The Best Opt-in Email Example (Plus 6 Extra!) and the Perfect Places to Use Them (you’ll find some great examples of opt-in form copy here)

 

Let me know how you do!

Want More Email Subscribers? Implement These Two Ridiculously Simple Tips

Photo by Jungwoo Hong on Unsplash

I’ve been doing loads of web copy & messaging strategy sessions this week, and here’s something I’ve noticed:

Pretty much everyone I talked to KNOWS that building a healthy, robust email list is non-negotiable if you want to build your business and get clients and customers online (without having to do the constant client-getting hustle).

Yet, most of the fine folks I had calls with had their email opt-in forms buried in a hard to find spot on their website, and/or the copy asking people to sign up for the list was the standard, “Sign up for updates here,” or “Join My Newsletter,” or similar.

And in most cases, there was also no dedicated landing page for the email opt-in opportunity.

That situation will not convert very many web visitors to email subscribers, if it converts any at all.

This wasn’t news to most of those I spoke to – they get it.

But keep in mind, every day your website isn’t optimized for email opt-ins is a day you’re not building your audience; therefore, you’re “leaving money on the table,” to use a terribly cliché phrase. (Cliché, yes, but TRUE? Also, yes.)

During every consult where the above was the case, I shared the following advice.

Two tips anyone can implement simply and quickly to increase email opt-ins

Tip #1: Create persuasive opt-in copy

What you want to do is create opt-in copy that gives people a compelling reason to sign up for your list. Make it about the benefits of signing up, and tell them how often they can expect to hear from you, if you can fit that info in.

So, not this:

Or this:

 

No, no, no no no. That will not do. No one wants to enter their email address into a mystery form like the ones above with no information about … anything.

Instead, give your opt-in copy some personality, and share those benefits! For example, the copy on my Home page opt-in says:

“Enter your email below to get instant access to the FREE Creative Rebel Guide to Writing an Ideal Client-Attracting About Page (so you never have to accept work from someone simply because they have a checkbook and a pulse, ever again.)”

The pop-up opt-in on my website says:

“Get Actionable Copywriting Tips to Grow Your Creative Business: Weekly copywriting & web marketing advice for creatives, solopreneurs & other non-marketing types. Sense of humor and Southern twang included at no extra charge.”

And check out the copy on Ashley Ambirge’s opt-in form for her “25 Days to $100K Freelancer Challenge”

Notice how much more enticing the idea of handing over your email address in exchange for valuable, interesting content becomes when the copy conveys benefits AND personality.

Tip #2: Create a dedicated landing page for email opt-ins

Create a dedicated landing page for your email list, and have access to that page it in the main navigation menu at the top of your website.

This link is what you’ll use in your social media bios. Because, again, you want to build the email list, and this will help you do it.

Here’s the power of a dedicated landing page for your opt-in:

The small opt-in form on my website Home page converts about 1.9% of website visitors. My email opt-in landing page converts around 48% of website traffic.

HUGE difference.

If all you have on your site is a tiny email opt-in form, especially if it’s hard to find AND the copy on it is not that compelling, you’re missing out on potential subscribers every single day.

And if you’re doing things to drive traffic to your site so you can GET more subscribers, that effort will be wasted.

So, what should you write on your email opt-in landing page?

You can go into a little more detail about the kind of information people can expect to receive once they sign up, and how often they’ll hear from you. You can share more about the benefits of signing up.

For example, on my email opt-in landing page, I say:

Enter your email below to get instant access to the CREATIVE REBEL GUIDE TO WRITING A CLIENT-ATTRACTING ABOUT PAGE …

You’ll also receive free weekly updates: tips and advice on how to use personality-driven web copy and bespoke web marketing strategy in your creative business to:

  • Instantly captivate clients who are perfect for what you have to offer . . . and subtly shoo away those who aren’t
  • Get client inquiries rolling in consistently so you can get off the feast-or-famine roller coaster for good
  • Book more projects & make more folding money

All while keeping your creative integrity intact.

Enter your email below and click “Give Me the Guide!”

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To recap, if you want to get more email subscribers:

#1: Create opt-in copy that gives people a compelling & benefit-driven reason to sign up for your list

#2: Create a dedicated landing page for your email list

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LIKE A LOT OF PEOPLE I SPOKE TO THIS WEEK, I TOO WAS AFRAID TO MARKET TO MY LIST IN THE BEGINNING

I’ll admit, I wasn’t always about sending offers to my list when I first got online. 

Sure, I started an email list from Day Freakin’ One, but even as an experienced marketer and copywriter, I was hesitant to send anything other than high value free content.

“What if people get upset?” I wondered. “What if people unsubscribe?” I whined, to no one in particular.

Now I realize none of that matters. If someone unsubs because you sent out an offer, they aren’t your people, and were never going to buy from you anyway.

Or maybe they unsub because you’re just not their jam. That’s cool. You don’t want those people on your list. Let them go.

OH, BUT THEN …

Let me tell you, there is nothing quite like sending an offer to your subscribers, and getting people raising their hand, eagerly saying, “Yes, I want that!,” in return.

A few years ago, when I sent my very first true sales email to my list, I was pretty nervous, because up to that point, I’d ever only sent “value bomb” / educational emails.

But I got over my fear and hit “send.” The email announced a small $500 offer, and 5 people replied yes within 24 hours.

And no one died!! AND I generated $2500 in revenue!

I’d always believed in the power of email marketing, even if I was too afraid to make an ask at first, but after that first experience, I was well and truly sold.

Sold, I tell you!

$2500 in 24 hours from sending one email?

I’ll take it.

And I’m small potatoes. My list is TINY. Embarrassingly tiny.

There are folks out there sending one or two emails and making 5 or 10 times that. They’re more well-known, have pricier offerings and bigger email lists, but I’m living proof there’s still much you can do with a small, dedicated list of email subscribers.

Of course, it goes without saying that you have something valuable people actually want and are willing to pay for.

But you can start building your email list now, before you have all your products and services worked out; that’s what I did.

 

I hope by now you’re sold on optimizing your website for email opt-ins.

It’s one of the very best things you can do for your business, especially if, like me, you’re an introvert, and love the idea of doing most of your marketing online.

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Want me to write your persuasive opt-in form + email sign-up landing page copy so you can start getting more subscribers sooner rather than later, and build your audience of raving fans?

Email me at: Kimberly [at] kimberlydhouston [dot] com with “Email opt-in copy” in the subject line, and I’ll get back to you ASAP with details of how we can work together.

If building your email list is important to you, then let’s connect!

Why Relevant Messaging for Your Target Audience is Non-negotiable [& how to create it]

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Recently I was on a strategy call with a client I’ve worked with on a handful of copywriting and marketing projects over the years.

Since we’ve known each other for a while, once the strategy session was over, we got to chatting informally about business, and life in general.

She asked me an interesting question.

“I’m curious,” she said. “I know what I need your help with, but what’s the main thing your other clients come to you for, if you don’t mind my asking?”

Even though I serve a varied group of creative service providers, freelancers, and solopreneurs, there’s not a long list of marketing-type things I help people with, or problems I help them solve.

My work with clients mostly boils down to a small handful of things. It’s largely writing email or website copy and/or working out their web & email marketing strategy.

And it always, always starts with getting clear on relevant messaging for their target audience, so their websites and email campaigns attract and convert more ideal clients.

Because without targeted, persuasive messaging, it won’t matter how much traffic you get to your website, how beautifully designed your site is, or how fantastic your work is.

Your ideal clients will not linger on your site, they will not sign up for your email list, and they will not inquire about working with you.

Full stop.

I’ve seen this over and over again, and I’ve been at this since the stone age, AKA 2001. (Which, by the way, I can’t even BUH-LIEVE I’ve been doing marketing communications that long. But I digress.)

This happens because not understanding your ideal clients’ hopes, fears, and dreams, together with your meaningful difference in the marketplace, results in messaging that’s generic, boring, bland and homogenous. 

And that means that as lovingly crafted and well-written as your marketing copy may be, it won’t convert enough web visitors into solid prospects and ideal clients to make all that hard work you’re putting in to “get the word out” worthwhile.

When clients come to me, they’re often experiencing the following challenge:

They’re getting some level of traffic to their website, but their site isn’t converting traffic into leads, and leads into clients.

In other cases, it’s doing a little bit of this, but not nearly enough.

This, despite having a beautifully & professionally designed website that showcases the work they do in a compelling way, or a perfectly serviceable DIY website that does the same.

Yet, people aren’t people reaching out to work with them often enough. Or at all, in some cases.

I have so much empathy for clients in this situation.

Because I was in this very same predicament when I was selling myself as a generic freelance writer way back in the day, a story I’ve told many times on this blog and in my newsletter.

What saved my butt and my business was getting clear on who I wanted to work with, what problems they had that I was uniquely qualified to solve, and how I could express this persuasively on my website and elsewhere through a clear and compelling marketing message.

That’s what changed everything for me.

I went from having a poorly performing website that wasn’t generating nearly enough qualified leads, and where email sign-ups were moving at a glacial pace, to getting high-quality clients from a tiny amount of website traffic and doubling my email sign-ups.

This was a result of clear, compelling messaging that appealed to my target audience.

Messaging that was not generic. It was also not based on what I thought people wanted, but instead on copious research + interviews I did with real, live, flesh-and-blood humans about their challenges and desires related to their creative businesses.

So, here’s my hot tip for you.

If you create a marketing message that appeals to your ideal clients and share that on your website and through your other marketing channels, it’s entirely possible to gain A LOT of traction – as in, leads, clients, and email sign-ups – without having to do loads of other things first.

Now, to be clear, those “other things” – a professional website, relevant services & packages that your ideal clients want to buy, qualified traffic coming to your site, consistent marketing, etc. – are all important, necessary, and need to be put into place.

BUT, the right messaging always comes first.

That way, when your marketing starts working and traffic starts coming to your site, your audience is met with messaging targeted directly to them and their needs/wants/desires, which in turn, makes them want to subscribe to your email list, inquire about working together, sign up for a free consult, or take some other step in your sales process.

To help you with that, the following is a brief excerpt from my recently released copy messaging guide, which you can purchase if you so desire, or you can get started by implementing the golden nugget below, without spending a dime! 😊

Your marketing message is the combination of things about you and your business — that you already possess! — that put together the right way, will help you attract and connect with your ideal clients & customers (your “ICA,” or ideal client avatar), stand out from the online crowd (instead of being a copycat version of every other person for hire out there doing what you do), and, once you’re getting consistent quality traffic to your website, help you get more business, bookings and sales.

It’s created from your ideal client profile, your unique selling proposition (USP), or what I prefer to call your “meaningful difference,” your expertise, and your unique backstory, among other things.

So, if it were a formula, it would look something like this:

ICA + USP + your expertise + your life experience & unique backstory + your worldview = your overarching marketing message

You’ll weave this in on your website, blog posts, newsletters, social media updates, and all your marketing communications, wherever you’re in conversation with your audience.

Your marketing message is what compels your ideal clients and customers to choose you over all the other choices they have, it tells them why you’re exactly the right person or business to solve their problems and challenges, and it begins to tell them how you’ll do so.

The right messaging should strike an emotional cord with your ideal/desired audience, and make them feel like, “Yes, this is exactly who I want to work with. Where do I sign up?”

Here’s another way to think of it:

The hook/big idea/marketing message of your business answers the question, “Of all the other [thing you do] out there who are equally talented, skilled, and experienced, why should your ideal clients choose you?”

And there you have it.

My hot tip for you is to spend some time creating your compelling marketing message and begin sharing it on your website and every other place you communicate with your audience.

Because again, even without all the other elements in place yet, this can work wonders for your business. I can’t promise that, of course, but it certainly worked wonders for mine.

Creating and sharing persuasive, targeted messaging that spoke to my ideal clients and conveyed my meaningful difference is what made all the difference between me giving up and crying into my Lucky Charms, and still being here, 7+ years into my freelance business journey, loving what I do and supporting myself with it.

If you want to go deeper on how to create a signature marketing message, you can grab my guide, Marketing Messages That Convert: A Step-by-Step Copy Messaging Guide for Solopreneurs, Freelancers, Creative Business Builders & Other Non-Marketing Types, for less than the cost of a Starbucks date.

And if not, use what I’ve shared in the excerpt above to get started on your own.

Either way, I wish you the best of luck!

How to Do Your Own D-I-Y Website Audit to Increase Conversions

website audit to increase conversions

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Question: Do you dream of having a website that does the job it’s meant to do – namely, to serve as your 24-7 salesperson – so you can go about doing your important creative work without having to constantly worry about marketing yourself? 

Having a “web presence” just to make your business seem legit is not the sole, or even the most important, reason your website exists.

Your website needs to make a powerful connection with the buyers and customers you want. It should position you as the obvious choice for your ideal clients. And it needs to get those people excited to take the next step on the path to working with you or buying from you (and that next step needs to be clearly and compellingly laid out).

Your website is ultimately meant to get you clients and customers and sell your products and services. Full stop.

That process might involve three steps or twelve, and it’ll usually start with subscribing to your email list, but at the end of the business day, if you’re in business, the reason your website exists is to generate revenue.

Maybe your website is actually doing a little bit of that right now. If so, great.

Or . . . maybe it’s behaving more like a lazy employee with a bad attitude, who sometimes does a half-assed job of getting you the results you want, and other times does nothing at all.

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Here’s a simple checklist of questions you can ask yourself to gauge your website’s performance:

:: Is your website connecting with your ideal clients and customers?

:: Is it moving them to take the action you want them to take?

:: Is it conveying your signature marketing message, one that speaks directly to those you wish to work with and serve?

:: Is it crystal clear and uber-easy for potential clients to get all the information they need in just one or two clicks, whether that’s signing up for your email list, requesting a consultation, buying your stuff, or something else?

:: Are you employing tried and true, proven copywriting principles in your web copy? (For example, speaking to one person; using conversational language; addressing your clients’ needs, wants, desires, goals, and interests; using client & customer-focused language rather “I do this” and “I do that” language, and so on. The list, it do go on.)

:: Does your web copy instantly convey what’s unique and different about you and why your ideal clients should do business with you?

:: Does your web copy adequately coach the most important conversion you want on each web page? (Each of your web pages needs to have its own goal, and everything on that page should work towards achieving that goal. An obvious example is your newsletter sign-up or email subscriber landing page; it’s one and only goal is to get subscribers.)

:: Is the “path to buy” on your site clear and straightforward?

What I Look for When I Do Website Reviews

For each web page, I consider the questions above. That starts with an in-depth questionnaire in which my client answers a couple dozen questions about their ideal clients, their marketing message, what’s working with their web marketing and communications, what’s not, their website goals, and so on.

I start by looking at the three most important web pages: the Home page, the About page, and the Services or Work with Me, or whichever page the client sells from.

Here’s a brief checklist of the elements I review:

#1) Tagline: does it clearly convey something unique/special/different that makes the web visitor want to stay on the site and explore, or instantly identify what they’ll find on the website?

For example:

Abstract Art for the Unconventional Collector

Wedding Photography for Punk Rock Brides

Life Coach for Gutsy Entrepreneurs

Minimalist Silver Jewelry for the Style Savvy

#2) A clear call to action on each web page: a clear, specific instruction for what web visitors should do next.

For example:

Visit my gallery here.

Schedule your free consultation today.

Contact me here if you have any questions.

Buy now.

Your call to action will obviously depend on the page it’s on and the #1 thing you’d like your web visitors to do after reading that page. First determine the goal for each web page, then make sure CTA on each page reflects that goal.

#3) Understand your ideal buyer/customer and write web copy that speaks to them – you’re not trying to attract and sell to everybody, only those who fit your ideal buyer or client profile.

#4) Strong headlines on each page that convey a clear and compelling benefit so that the right people (those who love what you have to offer and who can afford it) will want to read the rest of your copy or check out the rest of your website. You want your headlines to be clear, compelling and benefit-driven.

#5) Customer/client-focused web copy/language, i.e. reader-oriented content and conversational one-to-one language throughout website. Talk to one person.

#6) Address objections somewhere – an FAQ page is a great place to do this. Create a page that answers questions your potential buyers or clients typically have about working with you; include anything that could be lingering in their mind as a reason not to buy.

#7) Guarantees/remove risk

#8) Proof elements – like testimonials and reviews, etc.

#9) A clear path to buy. It should be crystal clear what someone who is ready to purchase or move forward to working with you should do next, and it should be very easy for them to select that option and take the next step.

#10) Focus on the three most important pages first – Home page; About page; Products/Services/Work with Me page, or whatever you call the page you sell from.

Hat tip to AWAI (American Writers & Artists Inc.) for the “5 C’s” of effective content:

:: Customer-focused – the content makes it clear you understand your audience

:: Competitive – your content conveys your USP or what I call your “meaningful difference”

:: Clear and easily understood, no confusing industry jargon

:: Conversion optimized – each page indicates what web visitors should do next and helps convert browsers into buyers

:: Consistent – products and web copy & language, etc.,  are consistent across the website

What You Can Expect When You Make These Website Changes

The great thing is, you don’t have to do everything on the list above to start getting better results from your website. Just start somewhere. Take baby steps if you have to, or heck, do a D-I-Y website improvement binge over the weekend. But just get going on this. If you’re getting consistent, quality traffic, your conversions will improve (and even if you’re not getting much traffic right now, more of what you are getting will begin to convert).

I’ve worked hard to get here (and I know I have some advantages as a professional copywriter and web marketing strategist) but I get consistent email inquiries from potential clients on a weekly basis, simply because they landed on my website, liked what they read, and knew what to do next to get in touch with me.

Very often, these are people I’ve never met or had a conversation with. I’ve never had any contact with them at all until they found my website, then reached out to me. Sometimes they got on my email list first, then a few weeks later reached out.

OR (and this always shocks me), landed on my website, read two blog posts and my Work with Me page, then reached out to hire me right then.

These inquiries consistently turn into clients I adore, and many come back to me for additional copywriting projects, marketing strategy, or consulting. Some of those projects are quite large and ongoing for many months, at the kind of investment level that makes it possible for me to do work I love, without doing the client-getting hustle, hustle, hustle all the time.

If that isn’t a simple & low-key way to find great clients and work on projects you love, I don’t know what is. 

And that is the power of using the right language, in the right places, on your website. [By the way, as you can see from my website, it’s FAR from perfect. In fact, it needs a massive upgrade, but I still do just fine.]

So, don’t let anyone ever tell you that you can’t get clients from your website.

Why do I bring up that last bit?

I’ll tell you.

About a year ago, someone who read something I’d written about the power of effective website copy reached out to me to say that some marketing “guru” they follow said no one gets business from their website.

LOL.

I had to laugh (and laugh and laugh), because that’s typically the ONLY way I get new (and repeat) business. I don’t do cold calling, or send email pitches, or go to networking events. (Call me lazy, call me introverted to a fault, but that’s just how I roll.)

Now, to be clear, there’s nothing wrong with any of those methods. I’ve used them all at some point, and they work. And I’ll be happy to use them again if/when I feel inspired to.

But these days, I focus on doing an awesome for my current clients, and replying to email inquiries from potential new clients who find me through my website.

Yes, you absolutely need to get quality traffic to your site as well, but my traffic stats are shamefully low, and I still get great clients. I don’t need hordes of people to find me online, I need the right clients to resonate with my marketing message, then inquire about working together, and they do.

Let me repeat: That is the power of persuasive, compelling copy and a clear, easy-to-follow path to finding the right information, in the right place, on your website.

Want the same results for yourself?

If you KNOW your website could be getting you more clients, customers and sales, and you want it to happen NOW, so you can start getting those PayPal and Stripe notifications sooner rather than later, I invite you to reach out to me about working together.

I’ve got a full, comprehensive website copywriting package that may be just right for you. Or if you’re working with a more limited budget, I also offer a VIP Website Audit & Review, which includes a comprehensive website action plan with customized-for-you copy & conversion recommendations you can implement on your own to start improving your website results ASAP.

Simply reach out to me at Kimberly [at] kimberlydhouston [dot] com, and put “website copywriting package” or “VIP website review” in the subject line, depending on which service you’re interested in. I’ll get back to you within 48 hours during normal business hours. We’ll begin by discussing your project over email, then if moving forward makes sense, we’ll schedule a call to talk about your next best steps.

Four Powerful Ideas That Could Radically Change Your Business

Recently I was unpacking some boxes in my new place, and came across a 3-ring binder with materials from a course I took a few years ago called “Creating Fame.” Created by Meet Edgar founder Laura Roeder back when she had an education/training company, Creating Fame was a program that taught how to position yourself as the go-to person in your field using social media, blogging, and other forms of content creation and outreach.

The idea being that you can “step up, claim your own fame, build your audience, and build your own community that’s going to feed into your business,” as one of the course transcripts puts it. It’s about claiming opportunities for your business, rather than depending on others to bestow them upon you arbitrarily.

What she’s talking about here is not paparazzi-showing-up-at-your-house/strangers-asking-for-your-autograph fame; it’s about being “business famous,” or well-known in your niche in a way that attracts your dream clients.

Looking through the binder reminded me how much I loved this course – implementing the suggestions within helped me get real traction in my business in the early days.

My description here kind of minimizes what was in the course, though. It was full of what I think of as “big ideas,” larger concepts and beliefs that can supercharge your business if you take action on them.

Four Concepts from Laura Roeder’s “Creating Fame” That Could Radically Change Your Business

Your Big Idea

Each of us have a “big idea” (usually more than one), a story or stories, and a set of factors that make us distinct from our competitors. You can use your big idea(s) to set yourself apart and become the go-to person in your niche.

Roeder says, “To be famous, you need a big idea or ideas that your customers can buy into and become a part of. It doesn’t have to be revolutionary, and in fact, it’s often very simple, but it does have to be something that people can get behind.”

For example, one of Roeder’s big ideas is that technology doesn’t have to be intimidating. In her previous business incarnation, she taught small business owners how to use Twitter, Facebook, blogging and other tech-related outreach channels without fear.

Other examples Roeder shares include a life coach whose big idea is that you don’t have to meditate, become a monk, or read “super woo-woo” stuff to get rid of your stress, and a lawyer who believes that you shouldn’t have to be afraid to call your attorney because you don’t know how much it’s going to cost to ask a simple, straightforward question.

One of my big ideas is, “they want you to be the one (so stop being afraid to market yourself).”

Another one of my big ideas is that creating a signature marketing message is one of the best ways to attract the kind of clients you really want to work with in today’s saturated, overcrowded online space.

What about you? What are one or two “big ideas” you can share through your content and outreach that your audience can really get behind and resonate with?

You Can’t Predict the Future

Gosh, I love this idea. It’ll keep you from “what iffing?” all over the place, which is just another way to stay stuck where you are and not take action on your goals.

As in, “What if I put all this time, effort and energy into creating this new course/lead magnet/service offering/product/program, and hear nothing but crickets in return?”

But, as Laura reminds us, you can’t predict the future – “psychic abilities do not emerge from long periods of deliberate thought. You’ll never know how anything will work out.”

So, “Give it a shot and see what happens,” she advises.

This is advice I particularly need to heed more often. It’s similar to the whole “just ship it” idea. If you’re anything like me, you likely have multiple half-finished e-books, courses, lead magnets, digital products, service offering ideas and more littering your hard drive. Things you could have put out into the world, but didn’t.

Why not complete and launch at least some of these things? Why not “give it a shot” and see what happens? What if it goes over like gangbusters, and you sell 5 of your new thing? Or 10? Or more? Because it could happen. It really could.

Overthinking can absolutely kill our chances of moving our businesses forward. I’m as guilty of this as anyone. We use this kind of thinking as a crutch to hold us back from taking action outside our comfort zone. We want to be certain of outcomes, but we can never be certain of any outcome.

This passage from the transcript is one of the best in the course. I need to print this out in 36 point font and put it above my desk:

So drop this idea of trying to out think yourself, of trying to think your way into the future. That’s what’s holding you back from taking the kind of action that you want to take. Just give things a shot and see what happens. That’s all any of us can do. The more things you try, the more opportunities you have for something that works. The more things you try that are absolutely outside of your comfort zone, the higher the chances that you’re going to get a result that’s absolutely outside of your current reality.”

Discipline Isn’t Sexy, But It’s How Things Get Done

We all know this, right?

In “Creating Fame,” Roeder says, “ . . . I don’t mean discipline as in forcing yourself to do things you hate, but I do mean discipline like forcing yourself to do things that you’re scared of. . . . another thing is having discipline to do things that are boring. To do things that you don’t feel like doing, to do things you’re scared of doing. That’s discipline.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but one of the things I often struggle with is knowing the difference between things I hate doing and therefore shouldn’t be doing at all, and things I don’t enjoy – or that scare me – but need to do anyway because they’re necessary to move my business forward.

For example, just like pretty much everybody else on planet Earth (or at least the people I hang with), I get that frightened, queasy feeling when it comes time to promote something. Yes, I’m a marketer, and I consult with clients on how to market, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get butterflies in my stomach when I have to do it for myself.

But I do DO it, because otherwise I’d have no business. I’d have to go back to work for “the man,” and I want to love my life, so that ain’t gonna happen.

There’s a whole long list of other “out of my comfort zone” tasks, in addition to marketing myself,  that I don’t love doing but do anyway, so I can have a business I love, working with clients I love. That includes pitching myself for guest posts or podcast interviews, reaching out to clients I’d love to work with, and launching new services, among (many) other things.

Inevitability Thinking

Roeder defines “inevitability thinking” as doing things to make the outcome you want inevitable, a concept she learned from Eben Pagan.

We often hear about this in relation to our health and workout goals, i.e., set your alarm for early in the morning, put out your workout gear the night before, and make a gym date with a friend so you’re certain to get your morning workout in.

Inevitability thinking has been a real game changer for me. After I took Marie Forleo’s B-School in early 2013, I was ready to start building my online audience in earnest, so I pitched myself for a few guest post opportunities on sites I knew my ideal clients read.

Lo and behold, a few of the people I approached accepted, which meant I had to follow through and write the guest post. That’s what’s great about sending a really well-thought out pitch – you don’t have to write the whole post, just a stellar pitch; when/if it gets accepted, then you’re on the hook to write a kick-butt guest post.

Which means you’ll do, right?

Just one of my guest posts added a few hundred people to my email list, and some of those people bought my services over the years. I can directly attribute at least $20K in revenue to one guest post (again, over the years, not all at once. Though I did generate about $12K in one year from one client as a result of one of that particular guest post.)

This stuff WORKS – inevitability thinking, give it a shot.

The Takeaway

Can you see how implementing these four simple, elegant ideas, could help you make serious headway in your business? Even one or two of them, consistently practiced, could make an enormous positive difference in your results. 

Wherever you are right now, whether it’s struggling to make things happen, or taking a bath in the benjamins, by this time next year, or heck, even next month, your business could look totally different.

I believe it with all my heart.

Now I’m off to practice some discipline for the rest of this fine Friday. 🙂

Would You Rather Push a Boulder Uphill with a Feather, or Nail Down Your Compelling Marketing Message?: A Question for Creative Business Builders, Solopreneurs, Freelancers and Small Business Owners

Let’s go way, way back in Internet years to late 2011/early 2012.

I was just bringing my writing business online, and was excited as all get out to finally launch my website and start selling my services on the World! Wide! Web! Yee-to-the-haw!!

I’d been helping clients with marketing copy, content, and other marketing initiatives for years; going live with my website would finally make it legit and “official.”

Ah, the rainbows and unicorns of those halcyon early days! The harp-playing angels on fluffy white clouds when I thought of the possibilities! The opportunities! The freedom! The revenue!

And yet.

By the end of 2012, I was experiencing one of the most frustrating, maddening, and exasperating periods of my business. I was exhausted and on the verge of giving up.

I’m talking tear-inducing, anxiety-producing, hair-pulling frustration, and the occasional to-the-hell-with-this-here-business-thing-if-it-has-to-be-so-hard crying jag alone in my apartment, while my friends were out doing “normal” things like going to dinner, or the movies, or out for beers and live music on a Saturday night.

Pushing a Boulder Uphill with a Feather

It wasn’t that I didn’t have any clients. I just didn’t have enough clients, and certainly not enough of the right kind of clients.

I wanted to serve creatives who were doing interesting things in their business who valued my expertise, and had an actual budget for marketing and copywriting. Yet I was attracting clients in all kinds of random, non-creative industries, many of whom were looking for bargain-priced services, and who didn’t always appreciate the value (and necessity) of persuasive writing/copywriting to their business success.

If you provide one-on-one services in your business, you know how frustrating it can be to work with the wrong kind of clients. Good people, just the wrong clients. Ahem.

On top of that, I was spending hours upon hours producing weekly content for blog posts, newsletters, and social media, yet it didn’t seem to be moving the needle. My email list growth was nearly stagnant, and I wasn’t faring much better in the attracting-the-right-kind-of-buyers department either.

And when I doubled down and worked even harder and longer producing still more content, thinking maybe “more” was the answer?  Nope, still no real change.

It was like pushing a boulder uphill with a feather.

[I covered this fun time in much greater detail in a 3-part blog series from 2013 called Creatives: Are You Making These 3 Web Marketing Mistakes?]

Then It Dawned on Me . . .

In case clicking over to read that 3-part series is not in the cards for you time-wise, I’ll give you the short version of my epiphany here.

My big mistake, and why I wasn’t getting the results I wanted was three-fold:

#1: I didn’t know who my ideal client/target audience was and what they struggled with, #2: I wasn’t expressing how I was different from others who offered a similar product or service, and #3: I wasn’t making an emotional connection with my ideal clients. (You have to do the first two to be able to pull off the third).

The problem was my marketing message. Or lack of one, to be more precise.

That’s when nailing down and conveying the right marketing message to the right audience became my mission. I was NOT going to give up on making my fledgling business work. No way, no how.

If you read the blog series linked above, you’ll know I eventually worked my way through this exasperating conundrum by figuring out who my target audience and ideal customers were and what they wanted; determining my unique selling proposition (otherwise known as a USP, or what I prefer to call your “meaningful difference”); and using that information in all my content, copy, marketing, and social media, etc., to attract and make an emotional connection with my right people.

Once I did that, things started to improve. Bigly. I got more client inquiries. My email list started to grow. I started getting booked out with projects I loved working on, with clients I loved working with. I started earning more.

To be clear, the process of determining and implementing a marketing message that attracted the right audience took time. Things improved when I got clear on who I wanted to serve and what they wanted, but there were still adjustments to make and ideas to tweak.

Still, I started to see better results almost immediately, which gave me the motivation to keep going. And that was huge for me. It’s what kept me from giving up.  

That’s how it is in business – as you learn more about your ideal audience, you fine tune. Then learn more, fine tune more. Even now, several years in, I’m still fine tuning my understanding of my audience and how to best serve them, and adjusting my messaging, my marketing, and my offers accordingly.

What You Can Do Next

Whatever stage of business you’re in right now – just getting started, three years in, exhausted and ready to give up, or digging in your heels and declaring, “I’m going to make this work!” –  it’s always a good time to take a long, hard look at your audience and your messaging, and ask, “Am I attracting the kind of clients I want to attract? Am I attracting enough of them? Is my message resonating with the right people in this saturated, overcrowded online space?”

And if not, do what I did. Determine who you want to serve, what they want/need/desire, and what makes you uniquely qualified to serve them, and use those insights in your content, copy, marketing, and everywhere else you interact with your audience, so you can begin to attract and make an emotional connection with your right people.

Imagine the possibilities when you do that.  It might just be what your business needs to turn the corner and start feeling joyful to work in again.

Just don’t give up too soon.

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I have a guide that teaches you, step-by-step, how to create marketing messages that convert.  For less than a coffee date at Starbucks, you can grab your copy right over here

How to Write a Simple 3-Part Email Marketing Campaign That Sells Your Creative Products and Services in 48 Hours or Less

 

(Photo by Lauren Mancke on Unsplash)

What if there was a way to bring some $$$ into your business ASAP, with a minimal amount of hassle and without spending hours slaving away to come up with a brilliant sales campaign?

There is.

If it makes sense for you (i.e., you have the bandwidth to write a few emails, and a receptive email list you’ve been “romancing” with valuable non-sales content between your sales offers), you can do it with a simple, 3-part email marketing campaign.

This email campaign is not difficult to write, and you can automate the entire process through your email service provider (ESP). I use Aweber, but other email service providers offer the same capability.

Caveat: While this is fairly simple to do, it’s not a magic, “easy button” solution. You have to be willing to spend some time figuring out what your clients and customers would love to have, then writing a handful of persuasive emails to tell them about it.

I’ve done this style of email campaign a handful of times, and found it to be one of the best ways to create a decent bump of revenue in a relatively short amount of time.

How It Works (for e-commerce or service-based offerings)

We all know holidays are a great time to launch a sale or special offer, especially if you’re in the e-commerce space.

You likely get dozens of emails around Black Friday, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Memorial Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and maybe even obscure “holidays” like Groundhog Day or Summer Solstice.

And since Labor Day is coming up (depending on when you’re reading this), it’s the perfect time to plan your email campaign:

Determine your offer and nail down the details in early August; draft, then perfect your three emails by late August and get them pre-scheduled into your email service provider; test to make sure it’s all working properly, then launch the email campaign a week to a few days before Labor Day (which is Monday 09.04.17 this year).

BUT – but, but, but –  even if you’re not in the e-commerce space – for example, you sell services, like I do – your business could still benefit from running a 3-part email sales campaign.

Let’s Learn How!

Ok, so here’s what I’m going to do . . .

I’m going to point you to a series of guest articles I wrote about how to do a 3-part email marketing campaign over at the Artstorefronts blog, which will give you an overview of how to implement this if you’re in the e-commerce space.

Then, for those of you who sell services, I’m going to share how I implemented a very similar campaign to sell copywriting packages. You can easily adapt one or the other of these approaches – e-commerce or service-based – to sell your own creative products or services.

Now – whether you sell art, products, or services, I highly recommend you read (or skim – a couple of them are pretty dang long) the blog posts at the Artstorefronts blog first, so you can get a good sense of the 3 emails you’ll need to write.

In those posts you’ll find info on:

:: How to run a holiday email marketing campaign [works for non-holiday promotions as well] – how many emails to send, when to send them, and importantly, examples of subject lines and body copy, so you don’t have to re-invent the wheel.

And no, you don’t have to follow every single thing suggested in those posts for this to work.

I used a version of the 3-part email campaign loosely based on the e-commerce model explained on the Artstorefronts blog to sell my copywriting packages, and I sold out of all the spots I had.

Check Out the Email Marketing Guides I Wrote for Artstorefronts Here:

(Each of these posts will open in a separate window so you can stay on my blog and read the rest of this post.) 😊

Valentine’s Day Email Marketing Guide for Artists 

Mother’s Day Email Marketing Guide for Artists 

Father’s Day Email Marketing Guide for Artists 

If You Sell Services

Ok, if you headed over to the Artstorefronts blog and read one or more of those posts, you’re now familiar with the overarching idea behind the 3-part email campaign, so I won’t go into more detail here about the whys and wherefores.

What I will do is explain how to adapt the e-commerce campaign you just read about to selling services, by sharing details of my recent email campaign.

I used the 3-part email sales campaign to sell a special copywriting package: website Home page copy + a compelling tagline. I made 5 packages available (because that was all I could fit into my summer project schedule), and ran the special for 48 hours.

My goal was to sell 5 packages within the 48-hour window. I sold all 5 within 24 hours, then, before I could send an email to my list to alert them there were no more spots available, I sold one more package, for a total of 6, which generated $2988 in revenue.

This was all from just one email, when I had planned to send three. Which is proof that a compelling offer + an engaged email list + a real, true, limited supply of something (i.e., none of that “fake scarcity” b.s.) can work really well when it comes to selling via email.

Let’s break down why I got these results:

#1: It was a special price. My standard fee for a Home page is $549, and for a stand-alone tagline, $297, for a total investment of $846. I made this package available for just $498 during the 48-hour sale period.

#2: I let folks get started for a down payment of just $150 (instead of the standard deposit, which is usually 50% of the total project fee).

#3: I let folks pay the rest of the investment in two installments of $174 each, spaced 30 days apart, which made things even easier on the wallet.

#4: The deal was available for a limited time, for just 48 hours, or when 5 spots sold, whichever came first.*

(*I kind of messed that up. Keep reading for details.)

#5: And, this is important – I’ve established a good relationship with my email subscribers over the years. I don’t make that many sales offers, generally 4-5 per year at most, and I send out really valuable copywriting and marketing advice each week without asking for anything in return. I don’t pummel my subscribers with sales offers, in other words.

The Emails I Sent

The thing I messed up?  Not mentioning in the first email that when the five spots were sold, OR when the 48 hours was up, whichever came first, the deal was over.

And I know better, because I’ve done this kind of campaign before. D’oh!!

The emails pasted in below are the actual emails I wrote to sell this offer.

NOTE: I only sent the first email below, because I sold all 5 spots within 24 hours, then an additional spot before I had a chance to let folks know all the spots were taken.

ADDITIONAL NOTE: I’m sharing these emails so you can model them to do your own email sales campaign, but don’t copy them verbatim. That would not be cool. Put your own unique spin on them based on your personality, writing style, and service offerings.

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Email #1

Subject: 48 Hour Flash Sale on client-attracting Home page copy + tagline

Planned Send Date: Weds 05.31.17; 10:45 a.m. EST [This is the first email; it generated 6 sales.]

Hey there,

Hope you’re having a fantastic Wednesday!

Depending on how long you’ve been one of my email subscribers, you may or may not know that 2-3 times a year, I make a special offer on my website copywriting services exclusively for my email list.

This special offer is for email subscribers only, and not something I share on social media or mention anywhere else.

And guess what? It’s that time of year!

I ran the Get Your Client-Attracting Home Page Copy + Compelling Tagline special last fall and it was a BIG hit.

I’ve gotten lots of new email subscribers since then, so it’s time to roll it out again!

I’ve created a super-secret, hidden-from-the-general-public page on my website to tell you all about it at the link below.

So if you want to get the hands-down most important page of your website written by a copywriter with over 16 years of experience, and you want to get it at a very special price, go on over and check out my Summer Special Offer at the link below.

Because not only is there a special price, but there’s also an awesome payment plan for a limited time. Woohoo!

*This offer will only be available until Friday 06.02.17 at 5:00 pm EST, and I have just 5 spots available.*  [See my mistake here? I failed to mention that the offer would available until I sold all 5 spots OR when the 48 hours was up, whichever came first. Sheesh, Kimberly.]

To get the most important page of your website written so you can finally start getting the results you want, go check it out right here:

Get Your Client-Attracting Home Page Copy + Compelling Tagline at a Seriously Reduced Rate for a Limited Time [This linked directly to my sales page with a simple PayPal “Buy Now” button for the $150 down payment. To collect the next two installments, I sent a Freshbooks invoice.]

Warmly,

Kimberly

P.S. If you have any questions, simply reply to this email and let me know. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

P.S.S. You’ll be getting two more emails about this special over the next two days, so if this doesn’t interest you, just ignore an email from me on Thursday 06.01.17 and Friday 06.02.17, then we’ll go back to our regularly scheduled weekly Tuesday emails, full of copywriting & marketing advice geared specifically to creatives.

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Email #2

Subject: Ending soon: Big savings + awesome payment plan on client-attracting website copy

Planned Send Date: Thursday 06.01.17, 12:45 p.m. [This is the second email I planned to send, but didn’t for the reasons mentioned above. However, I’m including it here for those of you who want a template for creating your own 3-part email sales campaign.]

Hey there,

I know you’re busy running your own empire, so I’ll get right to the point. J

Yesterday I sent an email out to let you know about my Summer Special Offer – a special mini-copywriting package that includes getting your Home Page (THE most important page on your website) + your compelling tagline written, at a deeply discounted price, for a limited time.

In case you missed that email, here’s the important bit:

I’ve created a super-secret, hidden-from-the-general-public page on my website to tell you all about this special offer. So if you want to get the hands-down most important page of your website written, and you want to get it at a very special price, go on over and check out my Summer Special Offer.

Because not only is there a special price, but there’s also an awesome payment plan for a limited time. Woohoo!

*This offer will only be available until Friday 06.02.17 at 5:00 pm EST, and I have just 5 spots available.* 

To get the most important page of your website written so you can finally start getting the results you want, go check it out right here:

Get Your Client-Attracting Home Page Copy + Compelling Tagline at a Seriously Reduced Rate for a Limited Time [This linked directly to my sales page with a simple PayPal “Buy Now” button for the $150 down payment. To collect the next two installments, I sent a Freshbooks invoice.]

If you have any questions, simply hit “reply” on this email.

Warmly,

Kimberly

P.S. If you’d like to see a few examples of web copy I’ve written for other happy clients, check out the writing samples page on my website right here. [This linked to the Writing Samples page on my website.]

P.S.S. You’ll be getting one more email about this special tomorrow, so if this doesn’t interest you, just ignore an email from me on Friday 06.02.17, then we’ll go back to our regularly scheduled Tuesday weekly emails, full of copywriting & marketing advice geared specifically to creatives!

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Email #3

Subject: Ends Today: $348 savings + payment plan on copywriting package

Planned Send Date: Friday 06.02.17, 2:00 or 3:00 pm [This is the third email I planned to send, but didn’t for the reasons mentioned above. However, I’m including it here for those of you who want a template for creating your own 3-part email sales campaign.]

Hello & Happy Friday!

Here it is, your final reminder about the Client-Attracting Home Page Copy + Compelling Tagline special offer.

If you want to get the hands-down most important page of your website written, and you want to get it at a very special price, go on over and check out my Summer Special Offer.

Not only is there a special price, there’s also an awesome payment plan, through 5:00 pm EST today ONLY. That’s in just a couple of hours, and this is the last email about this offer, so if you’re interested, now is the time to take action, my creative friend! : )

To get the most important page of your website written so you can finally start getting the results you want, go check it out right here:

Get Your Client-Attracting Home Page Copy + Compelling Tagline at a Seriously Reduced Rate for a Limited Time [This linked directly to my sales page with a simple PayPal “Buy Now” button for the $150 down payment. To collect the next two installments, I sent a Freshbooks invoice.]

If you have any questions, simply hit “reply” on this email.

Warmly,

Kimberly

P.S. If you’d like to see a few examples of web copy I’ve written for other happy clients, check out the writing samples page on my website right here. [This linked to the Writing Samples page on my website.]

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In a nutshell, the 3-part email campaign looks like this:

#1: Email your list to announce a special offer. Share what’s special about this offer – it’s for a limited time, it’s a percentage off the regular price, it’s a special holiday promotion, it’s your birthday, you’re offering a solid gold baby with every purchase, etc.

#2: Send a second email letting folks know the offer will end soon. Here’s the thing – we’ve all been trained by the multitude of marketing emails we receive each day that the first email about a sale or special offer won’t be the last one, so we often ignore it. Plus, people are so busy, they may not have seen your first email at all.

#3. Send a final reminder email. A few hours to a couple of days before your offer expires, depending on the length of campaign you’re running, remind folks that the special offer is going away; most buyers will buy in the last 24-48 hours. You’ve done it, I’ve done it, we’ve all done it.

And there you have it: a simple 3-part email marketing campaign that sells your creative products and services in 48 hours or less. Yeehaw!

P.S. If you’d like to write your own email sales campaign and want the help of an experienced copywriter and marketer to help you polish and perfect it before you hit “send,” I’m now offering this service. This offering is not on my Work with Me page, and I don’t plan to add it there just yet, so if you’re interested, simply email me at kimberly (at) kimberlydhouston (dot) com with “Email Marketing” in the subject line, and tell me a little bit about your planned email campaign. I’ll reply within 48 business hours with information on next steps.