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 Ship When It’s Not Perfect: On Beating Procrastination, Overcoming Limiting Beliefs, and Finally Shipping my Copy Messaging Guide

marketing messages that convert

Photo by Austin Chan on Unsplash

I recently sent an email to my list about the long and winding road to finally, finally, at long last, publishing the beta version of a copy messaging ebook I’d been working on in fits and starts for nearly a year.

Actually, when I started working on what would eventually become the ebook in June 2018, it was still going to be an 11-lesson e-course that would drip out over the space of a couple of weeks. At that time, I was planning to sell it for $97, and add downloadable worksheets & checklists to go with the main course content.

To go back even further than that, though, this content was originally meant to be a course specifically for photographers.

That’s when I was calling it 30 Days to a Magnetic Marketing Message That Sells: A Course for Wedding, Portrait, and Lifestyle Photographers: Create Messaging for Your Photography Business That Helps You Stand Out in an Overcrowded Market, Attract & Connect with Your Ideal Clients, & Get More Bookings.

But even long before that, much of this content already existed in some form or fashion – email newsletters, blog posts, guest posts on other sites, podcast interviews, and so on.

All of which is to say, I could have gotten this dang ebook done and dusted much sooner than I did.

So, why didn’t I?

Why I couldn’t get this project shipped

Part of the hold-up was everyday life stuff, like moving, dealing with some family issues, and other ordinary run-of-the-mill challenges.

And then there was the out of the ordinary stuff.

To be 100% transparent, A LOT was going down in my personal life at the time I was trying to create this content, that was, shall we say, very, very challenging.

(Maybe I’ll share that story someday, if only to say, “Can ya believe I survived that?” Ha ha. Because I can hardly believe I did.)

Another thing that kept me from completing and shipping the project was the nagging feeling that I shouldn’t focus the content solely on helping photographers, as much as I love and adore them. Instead, I should make this content applicable to solopreneurs, freelancers, and creative business builders of all kinds.

And if I was going to do that, I was going to have to rewrite at least part of the content I’d already created to appeal to a wider audience.

But if I’m honest, much (ok, most) of the delay had to do with resistance and procrastination, caused by limiting beliefs like . . .

“An ebook? Ebooks are sooooo 2006, Kimberly. Or 2009. But certainly in 2019 they aren’t a thing people sell anymore!” [I’m not talking about what you can buy on Amazon; I’m talking about selling ebooks directly from your website or a third-party solution like Podia, which is what I used. Podia is awesome, by the way.]

AND …

“Why would you put so much time and effort into writing and selling an ebook, fer cryin’ out loud, when that same amount of time and effort put into selling your premium services would net you exponentially more revenue?” [I can just hear certain business coaches and well-meaning copywriters I know saying this exact thing in my ear right now.]

AND …

“When you look at your copywriting heroes, those whose careers you’ve long admired, those you’d like to emulate in at least some small way, have ANY of them ever sold an inexpensive ebook as part of their suite of offerings?” [The only copywriting hero of mine I know of who has, is Joanna Wiebe of Copyhackers.]

AND the classic imposter syndrome belief …

“Who am I to write this copy messaging guide? Sure, I’ve been working in the marketing, communications & copywriting space for 15+ years now, but I’m no [insert any one of my copywriting heroes here]. Why would anyone listen to me?!”

What finally got me off the dime

Despite the BS limiting beliefs above, I couldn’t deny the magnetic pull I felt toward sharing the framework I’d been using for years to create memorable & effective messaging for my private copywriting clients.

When I began developing this framework, the core thing that was driving me was the problem I was trying to solve – how to extract and distill my clients’ point of difference or USP, and create persuasive messaging that conveyed that meaningful difference, so they could stand out in an overcrowded market and attract and convert more of their ideal clients.

Doing this requires diving deep and determining the Ideal Client Avatar (ICA) and Unique Selling Proposition (USP), then combining those two key ingredients, along with a few other uber-important factors, to create compelling & sticky signature marketing messages that convert website visitors into promising leads and ideal clients.

It was in early 2019 that it occurred to me that I should, in the name of all that’s holy, stop messing around and share this copy messaging framework NOW, no matter what form the content took – ebook, dripped out ecourse, full-blown course with all the bells and whistles, or me showing up personally at your front door with a whiteboard and some dry erase markers to teach you this stuff one-on-one. 😊

Because this messaging extraction process is something everyone building a business online or offline needs to be able to do – for their business overall, and for each service offering and marketing campaign as well.

And it should be for all freelancers, solopreneurs, and small business owners selling their products and services, because that’s who I see struggling the most with developing persuasive messaging that helps them stand out online.

And it should also be fairly inexpensive, so it’s accessible for those just starting out, because that’s when you need this information the most. (Though you can – and you certainly should – use this framework to clarify and improve your existing messaging, even if you’re farther along in your business journey.)

So, yeah. It was time to get this content put together and shipped, once and for all.

Of course, swimming around in my fevered brain at the same time were thoughts like, “But I want this to be perfect!,” and “It should be beautifully designed first!”

But naw, the perfectionist in me would have held off for at least another 6 months before moving forward if I had let those things stop me.

Which is why I decided to put this information together in the easiest format I could tackle on my own – an ebook – and release the imperfect beta version, so I could get it launched before I chickened out or came up with 40 other bullshit excuses to avoid taking action.

How I MADE myself finally finish the ebook and put it up for sale

It was simple, really.

I did something I’ve never done and always said I would never do, because I don’t enjoy that kind of pressure: on a Thursday afternoon, I sent an email to my list to let them know the beta version of the ebook would be ready for sale by the end of the following day.

I let them know it would be in beta form, so not to expect beautiful design or fancy bells and whistles, but if they were interested in the simple PDF version, the info inside would be well worth way, way more than the $10 cost of the ebook if they implemented the 11 lessons within.

That meant there was no turning back.

It also meant I had to work like a fiend that Thursday night, and all the next day without even taking a break for a shower or a meal, to get the ebook finished and out the door by 5:00 pm that Friday.

And get it out I did.

I sold several copies within the first 15 minutes of sending the email announcing it was ready. More sales trickled in over the next week.

Final Thoughts

I can’t express how phenomenal it felt to finally share my framework for creating compelling marketing messages for freelancers, solopreneurs and small business owners in overcrowded markets, something I’d wanted to do since at least 2012/2013, when doing this very thing saved my own business from dying a sad, ignoble death. [That is no joke, y’all.]

And the fact that I can help others do the same, for less than a Starbucks date? It fills me with joy.

The lesson here is, you can and should get your “thing” out there if it can help others, even if it’s not perfect, and even if it’s very tiny to start. You can always go back later and improve, upgrade, and add more “stuff” to your product if you want – that’s what I plan to do.

The added bonus is, shipping a project, no matter how tiny, does something kind of profound – it starts to change your identity to that of a person who gets things done. As a lifelong perfectionist/procrastinator, that is a big, big, BIG deal for me.

Now I want to give credit where credit is due for a big piece of inspiration that got me over the finish line . . .

If you’re a perfectionist / procrastinator who keeps coming up with excuses not to finish and ship a thing [for me, the two are inseparable], I urge you to check out Amy Hoy’s site, Stacking the Bricks. She writes very compellingly about what procrastination looked like for her, and how she overcame it to create a 7-figure business.

Specifically, I returned to her blog post, How I went from a hopeless procrastinator to starting a 7-figure business, over and over again while I was working on my ebook for a shot of much needed arse-kicking inspiration. It helped me so damn much.

So many golden nuggets o’ wisdom in Amy’s article. Read it if you can.

As she says,

It turns out that just fucking shipping things is magic… but the real fun is in growing and shaping them and reaping the rewards.

But you’ll never get there if you don’t ship.

Amen, sister!

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Interested in learning more about the beta version of Marketing Messages That Convert: A Step-by-Step Copy Messaging Guide for Solopreneurs, Freelancers, Creative Business Builders & Other Non-Marketing Types? You can check it out right here.

If you’re ready to create messaging that helps you stand out online so you can convert website visitors into promising leads and ideal clients, this guide will help.

If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em: The Baby Carrot Story and Using Personality in Marketing

Baby Carrots_blog image

 

Consider the carrot. The baby carrot, to be precise.  

A nutritious, wholesome, feel-good snack you can feel smug about eating, what with its minimal calories and healthy dose of good-for-you beta-carotene.

And sure, they’re good for you, but the truth is, they’re just not that interesting, are they? I mean, carrots, right? They’ve been around for 2000 years, they’re not trendy or hip like ramps or kale, or whatever other produce happens to be taking its star turn this year; they’re not really unique or special in any way. 

So, what if it was your task to “brand” them? What if you had to come up with a way to position baby carrots so they could compete with, say, cheetohs, potato chips or other junk food as a snack alternative?

Maybe you’d think, well, let’s promote their health benefits, that’ll do it!

Unfortunately, that line of thinking happens not to work all that well.

(Horrifying factoid: In 2012, $116 million dollars was spent on advertising fruit and veggies. And $2 billion was spent on advertising junk food to kids.  Yes, you read that right – $2 billion dollars.  Damn, that’s a lot of money spent to convince kids to eat crap!)

Even though print and online publications have been touting the joys and benefits of eating fruits and vegetables for years, not to mention many dozens of stories appearing on TV about the dangers of unhealthy eating, produce still has trouble competing for our shopping dollars, and per capita consumption isn’t up.

What’s a carrot seller to do?  And what’s the point of all this talk about carrots, anyway?  

My point, and I do have one, is that with enough creativity and resourcefulness, you can uncover the benefits and bring out the personality of any boring old thing to make it interesting and appealing to your audience, as I talked about previously here

Bolthouse Farms did this with carrots a few years ago. And if you can do it for carrots, you can do it for your creative products and services.

How Bolthouse Farms Transformed Carrots from Boring Agricultural Commodity to Cool, Crave-able Snack

A few years ago, Jeffrey Dunn, President and CEO of Bolthouse Farms, which grows and processes more than a billion pounds of carrots a year, was shopping for an ad agency to help create a campaign around baby carrots. Bolthouse had never marketed its carrots before, but sales were down, so Dunn decided to shake things up and get creative.

But he didn’t want to appeal to smarts and responsibility as in, “eat carrots because they’re good for you,” he wanted to market his company’s baby carrots in a different way. He knew that pitting the health benefits of the cute veggie against the perils of eating junk food wasn’t going to cut it. Instead he wanted something funny and emotional that appealed to impulse snacking.

Enter ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky.  Instead of pitching a campaign centered around the health benefits of carrots, Crispin proposed aligning the baby carrot with junk food.

In an article in Fast Company, Omid Farhang, vice president and creative director at Crispin, said “The truth about baby carrots is they possess many of the defining characteristics of our favorite junk food. They’re neon orange, they’re crunchy, they’re dippable, they’re kind of addictive.”

The idea was to do the same kind of marketing for carrots as for things like Coke and cheetohs, because as Dunn was quoted as saying in the Fast Company article, “If all we do is tell people fruits and vegetables need to be part of their diet or they’re not going to be healthy – the rational approach – we have zero chance.”  

Think about it – we already know we need to eat our veggies, so telling us that in an ad campaign has no impact. As Farhang said, “What a silly use of advertising dollars to tell people that vegetables are healthy.”

Instead, the campaign they rolled out featured new packaging in which baby carrots were packaged like Doritos, in a crinkly potato chip bag with junk-food-style graphics, and an ad campaign with taglines such as “Eat ‘Em Like Junk Food” and “Baby Carrots: The Original Orange Doodles.”

You can read more about the whole she-bang in the fabulous article in Fast Company, “How Carrots Became the New Junk Food.” And check out the Bolthouse Farms website here for a great example of how to position with personality in order to stand out in your niche.

Marketing Lessons and Questions to Ponder

I don’t know if it’s because I once worked for an ad agency and I appreciate a killer creative marketing campaign when I see one, but I haven’t been able to get the Baby Carrots story out of my head since I first heard about it late last year.

It’s proof that positioning with personality works.  (Sales in Bolthouse’s test markets went up 10% to 12% over the year before in the year following the test campaign.)

Think about how Bolthouse Farms went against the standard approach in this campaign by deciding not to use a health benefits approach, instead aligning themselves with junk food.  How can you apply this kind of creative thinking to your own marketing?

Consider how Bolthouse uses personality to transform baby carrots from a healthy, but boring vegetable into a hip, crave-able snack.  Are there ways you can do this with your creative products and services?

Share your thoughts in the comments! 

[Sign up for free weekly updates and get instant access to the CREATIVE REBEL GUIDE TO WRITING A CLIENT-ATTRACTING ABOUT PAGE, plus copywriting & web marketing tips and other goodies for creative freelancers & biz owners that I only share with my subscribers, delivered straight to your inbox each Tuesday.]  

 

What is a Signature Marketing Message and Why Do You Need One ASAP? So You Can Stand Out Online, Attract Your Ideal Clients, and Get More Business, Bookings, and Sales

create a signature marketing message

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

I talk frequently on this blog, in my weekly emails, and with my private clients about the importance of creating a signature marketing message for your business.

A signature marketing message gives your ideal clients and customers a compelling reason to choose you, rather than one of the other 567,878 creatives online who offer the same products and services you do.

And it’s ab-so-lute-ly essential to have yours dialed in if you want to differentiate your business and get traction with the clients and customers you truly want to serve.

What is a signature marketing message?

Here’s how I define it: A signature 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, 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 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.

Your signature marketing message conveys why you’re exactly the right person or business to solve your target audiences’ 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?” [This, by the way, is the exact question I answer for each client I work with before I begin writing copy for them.]

 For example, let’s say you’re a wedding photographer. Ask yourself:

Of all the wedding photographers in my area who are equally talented, skilled, and experienced, why should my ideal clients choose me?

Signature Marketing Message Examples

Keep in mind as you review these examples that they’re the distillation of A LOT of information – the ideal client profile, including the challenges the ideal client wants resolved, the unique selling proposition or meaningful difference of the business, and more.

What that means is that these brief statements are part of a much larger whole that will be communicated across your website, your social media channels, and in all your marketing communications, and will include some of the other elements as well, such as your expertise, your unique backstory, and so on.

And what THAT means is that this one brief statement alone isn’t going to get people beating down your door to work with them – you have to communicate with your right people in language that resonates with them and provides the solution they seek, in every place they come across you and your brand, online and otherwise – but nailing down this distilled message is absolutely essential to getting traction online and making those dollah dollah bills, y’all. 

Let’s look at some examples:

[By the way, USP = Unique Selling Proposition and MD = Meaningful Difference]

My Messaging/USP/MD: I help established creative service providers and small businesses discover their meaningful difference and communicate it online with personality-driven web copy, email copy, and other marketing communications that ensure they stand out in an overcrowded market, attract & connect with their ideal clients, & get more bookings, business & sales.

Messaging/USP/MD I created for a luxury wedding photographer:  “I’m a North Carolina wedding photographer specializing in fashion-inspired bridal portraits and luxury wedding photography for stylish, fun couples who value photography as an art, and want a high-end, signature experience on their wedding day.”

For the copy on this photographer’s website Home page, I also wrote: “My style isn’t for everybody, but for the select couples I choose to work with each year who resonate with my approach, I aim to create extraordinary art that will be cherished for generations.”

Messaging/USP/MD I created for another wedding photographer, one who provides one-of-kind fine art wedding photography to mostly first-time brides:  “I’m an Arizona fine art wedding photographer who specializes in working with modern young first-time brides who want fine art quality photography, a friendly partner in the planning process, and someone who can make them feel relaxed, at ease, and naturally beautiful in every single shot.”

Messaging/USP/MD I created for a business strategist, coach and consultant: “I’m a business strategist, coach and consultant. Using a mixture of inspiration, encouragement, and tough love, I apply my 13+ years of real-world business experience – including lessons learned bootstrapping two businesses to 7 figures, having $100K launch days, and getting my products into Target and Anthropologie – to help solopreneurs and small business owners get unstuck and achieve their business goals & dreams. If you’re serious about creating a meaningful, purpose-driven business that supports you, and you’re ready to apply proven business strategies delivered by someone who understands where you are, and can help get you where you want to be, I would love to support you.”

These distilled messages were put together AFTER working with each of these clients intensively to determine who their ideal clients and customers were, and what their meaningful difference in the marketplace was.

In the example of my own marketing message, I’ve done loads and loads of work to identify what my ideal clients most struggle with, and it’s this: standing out online in an overcrowded market among hundreds, if not thousands, of other creative service providers who also do what they do, in a way that draws in their desired audience and converts the right prospects into dream clients. I do this by helping them create a personality-filled marketing message, website copy, and other online and offline communication pieces that resonate with their ideal clients, using informal, casual, yet persuasive language, as opposed to formal and boring old business speak. And you can see that above in the distilled marketing message for my business.

In the case of the luxury wedding photographer, his clients are stylish, fun, and want a luxury signature experience on their wedding day. They also “value photography as art,” and want a keepsake from the day that will stand the test of time, which is why he also offers print products—it’s not all digital. He creates lasting artwork – albums, portraits, etc. – that can last for years and years. This is one of his points of differentiation.

In the case of the fine art wedding photographer, her clients are typically young, first-time brides, so her messaging focuses on this. She also shoots mostly outside in iconic Arizona locations. AND, her style is fine art photography. All these things combined together are what helps set her apart in the marketplace and attract her ideal clients. You can see those things in play above in the distilled marketing message for her photography business.

In the case of the business strategist, coach and consultant, her desired clients are those who are serious about their business, and don’t want a rah-rah-rah cheerleader type to tell them everything is OK, but instead, want to work with someone who has been in the trenches, knows exactly how to build a successful business, and provides the non-sugar-coated kind of tough love approach that will get them there. That comes across in the distilled marketing message for her business.

Other Signature Marketing Message Examples to Check Out

For a couple of other examples of effective marketing messaging, check out Hiut Denim and Saddleback Leather. I always point my clients to these amazing companies to show them how effective the right messaging can be, even when you’re making or selling something that many other companies also sell or make.

Hiut Denim 

Creators of premium denim. Plenty of other companies make premium denim, but Hiut Denim stands out. As they say, “We make jeans. That’s it.” Their philosophy/motto/approach is “Do One Thing Well.” And their backstory, which you can read on the website, helps them stand out in a big way, because it’s about so much more than jeans. Take a look, you’ll be glad you did.

Saddleback Leather 

Creators of leather bags and other leather goods. Check out their website; they have a really fun, engaging, and interesting backstory/founder’s story. And their tagline is one of my favorites of all time – “They’ll Fight Over It When You’re Dead.” 

And for something equally effective but with a different feel, check out Amy Porterfield.

Amy’s messaging is straightforward, easy to digest, and instantly conveys what she’s about:

“Hi, I’m Amy. I teach business owners, educators and entrepreneurs the profitable action steps for building a highly engaged email list, creating online training courses, and using online marketing strategies to sell with ease.”

And there you have it – examples of what an effective and persuasive marketing message that sets you apart online can look like.

If you want to learn how to create your own signature marketing message, check out Marketing Messages That Convert: A Step-by-Step Copy Messaging Guide for Solopreneurs, Freelancers, Creative Business Builders & Other Non-Marketing Types. For less than date at Starbucks, you can create messaging for your business that appeals to your ideal clients,  while turning away the ones who want to make you weep into your Lucky Charms. 🙂

 

 

 

The Essential Piece of Copy You Must Master to Convert Web Visitors Into Leads and Clients

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Let’s just admit it: this here online marketing thang can be a lot of hard work.

The blog posts, the website copy, the weekly newsletters, the email sales campaigns, the pitches to potential clients, the sales pages, the landing pages, the fresh social media content that must be posted each day so you can stay “top of mind” for those who may want to buy from you . . . phew, I’m tired just writing all that.

Some days the amount of content we have to crank out to generate traffic, interest from potential clients, and signed-on-the-dotted-line business feels exhausting and overwhelming.

And if you’re doing all this work, you want to see results – in the way of people signing up for your email list, setting up a free consultation, requesting more information, visiting your bricks-and-mortar store, signing up for a free trial offer, buying your products, or taking whatever the logical next step is in your customer relationship or audience engagement process.

If you’re getting consistent traffic to your blog or website but your visitors aren’t taking these actions, take heart – the problem could be as simple as adding the appropriate call to action (CTA) in your blog posts, landing pages, emails, website copy and other online (and offline, if you do print advertising) content.

What is a call to action? 

A call to action is a clear instruction in your written communications – your newsletter and blog posts, your Shop or Work with Me page, your social media status updates, your ads and other sales materials – essentially anywhere you communicate with your audience – that directs said audience to take a specific action.

In a nutshell, the call to action is the very clear and uber-specific instruction telling your readers what to do next.

Because just like in “real life,” if there’s something you want someone to do, asking them to do it directly and succinctly is usually the most effective way to get what you want.

Examples of calls to action include:

“Sign up here for free weekly tips and inspiration I only share with my subscribers”

“Come in today for 30% off”

“Buy now”

“Re-tweet this!”

“Leave your comments below”

“Click here to subscribe”

“Order now to take advantage of this limited-time offer”

See? Not so hard, right?

Where to Add CTAs on Your Website

The appropriate place for a call to action depends on the purpose of your website, and what you want readers and potential customers and clients to do after reading a piece of content. The key is to not leave people hanging – give them clear direction on what to do next within or at the end of each page or post.

First, you’ll need to determine the optimal action you want your readers to take, depending on whether they’re reading a blog post, visiting your website’s home page, or checking out your Work with Me or Sales page, etc.

Here are a few key places to put CTAs:

  • At the end of blog posts, asking for shares or comments or directing people to sign up for your email list
  • On your email opt-in form asking readers to subscribe to your newsletter
  • In a newsletter asking readers to click over to a blog post
  • Within your blog posts directing people to something else you’ve written on your blog or elsewhere
  • On the home page of your website directing readers to contact you for more information or to book a complimentary session
  • On a sales page asking for a sale (you’ll want a CTA in several locations on a sales page – but this is a topic for another blog post)

How to Write Your Killer Call to Action

Now that you have some ideas of where to place calls to action to generate the desired actions from your readers, it’s time to develop your CTA copy.

The length of your CTA copy will be determined by where it is and what you’re asking people to do. For example, button copy will be short and sweet and say things like “buy now,” “sign up today,” or “get instant access.” Where you have room to write to your heart’s content, such as at the end of blog posts, your call to action copy may be longer.

4 Tips for Writing a Strong Call to Action

Know your audience. If you’re writing for an audience of lawyers for example, your calls to action will be worded differently than if you write for, say, circus clowns. Call to action copy for accountants would be different than for artists. You get the idea. You want to write in a way that resonates with your target audience and uses the kind of language they would respond to, based on their needs and desires.

Examples:

  • Oyster, the Netflix of books, according to the interwebs, uses this call to action on their home page: “Read unlimited books, anytime, anywhere. Start for Free.”
  • The dating site OK Cupid uses this call to action on their home page: “Join the best free dating site on Earth. Start meeting people now!”
  • The wonderful novelty store Archie McPhee uses this call to action copy to get people to sign up for their newsletter: “Join the Cult of McPhee: Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter (A $700 Value!)”
  • From the home page of an accounting firm in my hometown: “Our dedication to quality, professional standards, and service is unmatched. Get in touch today.”
  • From a contact form on the website of a personal injury attorney: “No Obligation Free Consultation. Get Help Now!”

Define your outcome. For example, my primary goal is to get email subscribers. This is more important to me than getting social media followers, having people leave comments on my blog posts, or requesting more information. For you it may be different.

With that outcome in mind, the call to action I use at the end of most of my blog posts directs people to sign up for my email list. I don’t ask people to “follow me on social media!,” or “sign up for a free strategy session,” or “Click here to find out more.” It’s almost exclusively about the email list.

Examples:

Here’s what I use at the end of most blog posts:

  • “For more on writing copy that connects with your ideal clients, sign up here for weekly updates and get instant access to the CREATIVE REBEL GUIDE TO WRITING A CLIENT-ATTRACTING ABOUT PAGE, plus copywriting & web marketing tips for creative freelancers & biz owners that I only share with my subscribers, delivered straight to your inbox each Tuesday.”

If your primary goal is to get people to sign up for a free strategy session, you could use something like this at the end of the body copy on your home page:

  • “Ready to get started? Book your complimentary Discovery Session now by entering your email in the form below. I’ll be in touch within 24 hours to set up our call to see if we’re a good fit to work together.”

Use action-oriented words. Begin your calls to action with verbs like “download,” “join,” “sign up,” “share with your friends,” “discover,” and “register now,” etc.

Examples:

  • “Create an Event. It’s free.”
  • “Read the case study”
  • “Sign up and publish for free”

Convey the benefit. You want to demonstrate value and relevance to your target audience and offer a benefit that is meaningful to them based on their needs and desires.

Where I see the most need for this is in call to action copy on newsletter opt-in forms. Telling someone to “join my newsletter” or “sign up for email updates” just doesn’t cut it. There’s no benefit, value or personality whatsoever in those flaccid calls to action.

Instead, you want to get specific and focus the form copy on the main benefit your subscribers will receive, based on a problem they want to solve or a pleasure they want to gain.

Examples:

  • Tracy Matthews Jewelry opt-in copy: Is your jewelry box a mess? Sign up to receive your FREE guide: Clean It Like a Professional and Keep It Tangle & Tarnish-Free!  Added Bonus:  By becoming a member you are instantly privy to FREE jewelry giveaways, special jewelry offers, and video tutorials.

The opt-in copy here leads with benefits: how to keep your jewelry tangle and tarnish free, plus access to giveaways, special offers and video tutorials. 

  • Interior designer opt-in copy: Enter your email below to grab your 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.)

I wrote this opt-in copy for an interior designer. You can see it focuses on the result the interior designer’s target audience wants to achieve:  transforming a chaotic home into an oasis of practical luxury.

  • My opt-in form copy: 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.)

My audience of creative business builders often struggles with getting the right kind of clients, so that’s the benefit I focus on in the opt-in copy: writing an About page in a way that attracts ideal clients. 

Bonus tip: Where appropriate, promise instant gratification. It’s human nature – we all love instant gratification. This will depend on your desired outcomes and goals for your site, but where you can use words like “Instant Access,” “Get It Now,” “Instant Download” and similar copy, you’ll often see an increase in people taking action.

Final Thoughts

As the wildly successful copywriter and marketing strategist Dan Kennedy says, “After the headline, the call to action is the most important element of successful copywriting.” Your call to action is the key to getting website visitors to take those oh-so-important actions like signing up for your email list, reaching out to you directly, or buying your products and services.

 [A version of this post originally appeared on the site, Successful Blogging.]

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For more on writing copy that connects with your ideal clients, sign up here for weekly updates and get instant access to the CREATIVE REBEL GUIDE TO WRITING A CLIENT-ATTRACTING ABOUT PAGE, plus copywriting & web marketing tips for creative freelancers & biz owners that I only share with my subscribers, delivered straight to your inbox each Tuesday.