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!

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

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.]

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

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.

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.

You DO NOT Have to Do It “Their” Way to Succeed in Business (AKA, Online Business Practices That Kinda Make My Skin Crawl)

I have this annoying habit of reading certain emails, certain websites, and certain articles that I know are going to make me angry, and yet, I read them anyway. It’s almost like I actively want to feel aggrieved.

And I’m not just talking about articles on the terrible death spiral our country has been in since the 2016 election, either. Though I must admit, I read my fair share of those too.

No, I’m talking about the emails, newsletters, websites, and blogs that tell us all the things we “must” do online to succeed in business.

But Do You, Really?

I subscribe to many newsletters and read many blogs about marketing, copywriting, list-building, traffic generation, and multiple other topics about doing business online.

As someone who writes marketing copy for solopreneurs and small businesses, and advises on web marketing, I have to keep up with these things. Heck, I want to keep up with these things. I genuinely find these topics interesting. I’m a nerd like that.

But many of the things on the online business success “must do” list make my skin crawl a little. Which is to say, they would be out of integrity for me to do, but that doesn’t mean they’re inherently bad, or that the folks who employ these tactics are “bad.” They simply don’t jibe with the way I like to do business.

(There are a couple things on that list, however, that I find straight up unethical. I’ve placed an asterisk next to any of those practices on the list below.)

What I want to stress about the following list is that you DO NOT have do any of these things to succeed online. If you want to try some of these tactics, that’s cool too. The point is, you do you. Do what feels right and comfortable for you.  

Don’t feel pressured to do what some so-called “expert” says to do, just because it worked for them. Heck, don’t feel pressured to do anything I talk about on this blog either, for that matter. Unless it makes sense and feels right for you.

(The exception to this is ethical, legit marketing, sales, or business practices that you know would move your business forward, but make you feel uncomfortable or scared, or feel like too much work. We all gotta do that stuff that makes us feel uncomfortable to make progress on our dreams.)

BUT – just because some online “guru” says you must use push notifications, or do a retargeting campaign, or buy Facebook ads, or “invest in yourself” by joining their program, or do this or that “hack,” doesn’t mean you’ll fail if you don’t.

It absolutely, positively, does not mean you’ll fail if you don’t.

Online Business Practices That Make My Skin Crawl

#1: Calling people who teach online “gurus.” In my mind, a guru is a spiritual teacher or guide (yes, I know a word can have more than one meaning, and yes, I know I used the word “guru” above.) The word has been overused to the point of becoming a giant cliché to describe those hawking their wares online, and has therefore become meaningless.

#2: Light bullying and/or shaming, disguised as a “sales technique,” i.e., when people selling their courses or programs tell you if you don’t invest in their program that you’re not committed to investing in yourself, or that when you say you can’t afford it, you really can, it’s just that you’re not prioritizing your success. Or you’re afraid of success. Or failure. Or digging in and doing the work. Or a handful of other lame BS.*

This kind of sales “tactic” always strikes me as light bullying, or at the very least, light shaming. Which it is. It’s also the height of privilege and arrogance. If you tell a single parent with $27 in their bank account and no other financial resources to draw upon that they just don’t want success bad enough, I mean, C’MON. WTF?

Sure, there are times we tell ourselves we can’t afford something when in fact it’s just not a priority us for right now. I get that fear, not affordability, sometimes keeps us from doing things that would be good for our businesses. That dynamic exists.  It’s happened to me.

On the other hand, there were times early on in my business when I wanted to invest in a course or program, yet only had enough in my bank account to pay that month’s bills. And shelling out $600 or $2200 or $3600 (all amounts I’ve paid for training and courses) would have meant I couldn’t pay for the really important things that month, like rent, or health insurance. And yet, if the copy on the course creator’s sales page is to be believed, I just didn’t care enough about my success, or believe in myself, or want it badly enough.

When I send a sales email for my own services, I say something along the lines of, “If this is right for you, great! I’d love to work with you. And if it’s not the right time, no worries.” I often say things like, “there will be no arm-twisting to get you to buy.” What I don’t do is try to make someone feel in any way “less than” if they don’t want to buy, have other priorities, or simply don’t want my thing, whatever it is.

#3: The language often used to describe potential clients and customers. For example, referring to real, live, human beings, with thoughts and feelings and wishes and hopes and dreams and fears as “leads,” “prospects,” “conversions,” or similar. Now I’ll admit, I’ve used the words “leads” and “prospects” in my blog posts and in my weekly newsletter from time to time. I wish I could say I hadn’t. But I haven’t done it with any real frequency, and not in a long time, once it started to get under my skin how dehumanizing it felt to refer to flesh and blood people that way. I typically use the term “potential clients” or similar.

What I find truly heinous though, is blog posts with titles like, “Best ways to push prospects down the marketing funnel.” Really? I don’t want to push anyone anywhere, and especially not “down the marketing funnel.”

In another example of language I find troubling, a recent email from a successful copywriter I respect and admire kind of floored me by talking about how people with “unrelenting standards” are often “easy prey for good salesmanship” due to their competitive nature. That’s more than a little distasteful.*

I don’t think of the people who might be interested in my services as “prey.” They’re either right for what I offer or not, and if not, that’s totally cool. I’m not on the “hunt” for folks who might be an easy mark, and I would hate to feel like someone became a “casualty” of my sales campaign. Goodness gracious.

I’m sure there are plenty of A-list marketers and copywriters who would laugh at my naiveté or unwillingness to go aggressive, or to use tried-and-true copywriting and sales techniques like the ones described above, but that’s ok. I do what feels right for me, and you can do the same.

#4: Push notifications on websites. Ok, ok, call me too sensitive. I know some people love to receive push notifications, but when I’m on a website and that little notice appears at the top of the site asking me if I’d like to receive “push notifications,” I instantly click no. [While thinking, “No, no, hell no, not in a million years, NOOOO!”] I think it has something to do with the word “push.” Language is powerful, my friends. If were called something less aggressive, like “updates” or similar, it wouldn’t bother me.

#5: Retargeting Campaigns, otherwise known as being stalked relentlessly, unceasingly, and annoyingly all over the internet by a marketer/website owner whose site you may have visited once, in a brief moment of curiosity, which has forever doomed you to seeing their ads all over the internets.

Here’s a more “official” definition of retargeting from Moz.com: Retargeting is “a form of marketing in which you target users who have previously visited your website with banner ads on display networks across the web.”

Let me just say there are many people online I respect and admire who use retargeting. Which is fine for them, but it’s just not my cup of tea. It feels predatory, aggressive, and a little desperate. Like a party guest you made pleasant conversation with for two minutes, who then follows you around the rest of the night at said party, butting into your conversations, invading your personal space, and otherwise attaching themselves to you like a barnacle. Maybe, even, asking for your number, though you are clearly not interested, and following you out to the parking lot when you leave. You just can’t get away from this leech.  All because you expressed the tiniest bit of attentiveness during your initial conversation. But you were just being polite. Yep, that’s what retargeting feels like when it’s being “done” to me.

#6: Overly aggressive/demanding or trying-too-hard-to-be-provocative email subject lines.  I’ll admit it, I don’t like being told what to do. So when I see a subject line that reads “Urgent, open up!,” I will not. Unless it’s from my doctor, an email with a subject line like that always gets an instant delete from me. Because your course or program or sale is going away at midnight tonight doesn’t rise to the level of an emergency; I wouldn’t even consider it “urgent.”

Ditto, subject lines like, “You’re not going to like this email.” My first thought is, “Good, I can delete it then!” And then I do.

#7: Countdown timers. Again, there are people online I adore, whose products and programs I’ve happily purchased, who use countdown timers on their sales pages and in their marketing emails. They work. Yes, I know you need to use urgency to get people who could really benefit from your program off the fence, blah, blah, blah, I know people tend to procrastinate until the last possible moment, blah, blah, blah. But they’re just not my jam. And there are other ways to communicate that an offer is going away, by, for example, saying the offer is going away.

#8: List posts. Yes, yes, yes, I know they still work to a degree. Heck, some people have even made a big name for themselves online and gotten a 6-figure book deal out of writing what boils down to list posts. All good. I’ve written what might be considered a “list post” on this blog a few times. But I’d never want to make a habit of it, as it can feel derivative and cliché.

#9: “Hacks.” Am I the only one tired to near death of “hacks?” Hack this, hack that. Marketing hacks, growth hacks, content hacks, copy hacks, conversion hacks. I’m weary just writing this sentence. Make it stop. [By the way, Paul Jarvis wrote an excellent article about the practice of growth hacking called, “I don’t wanna grow up to be a growth hacker.”]

#10: The white maleness and tropes of online marketing. Hoo boy. This is a BIG topic, and deserves a fully dedicated blog post all its own. In fact, I’ve already started writing it. So I’ll leave elaborating on this one for another day.

Filters

When it comes to online marketing and business practices, I often think of those people and businesses online I adore, respect, and admire, and how they do things. And I might use those people and businesses as a filter when considering a tactic or technique I want to try.

The top three that come to mind for me are Ash Ambirge [The Middle Finger Project], Alexandra Franzen, and Danielle LaPorte. They all have wildly successful businesses, yet none of them employ any of the practices above.  Which is one of the reasons I love ‘em so.

The bottom line is, you can do things your way, ignore all the tactics, techniques, “hacks,” and whatnot online marketing “experts” tell you you must do, and still be successful. Wildly so. And at the end of the day, still walk away with your integrity and dignity intact.

 

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.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

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.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

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.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

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!

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

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.]

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

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. 

Photographers: How to Write Your Website Investment or Packages Page

I recently received an email from one of my lovely email subscribers, a boudoir photographer, asking if I had a blog post or other resources on how to write an Investment page for a photography website.

I didn’t, but I thought that would make a great topic for a blog post, so here it is, my photographer friends! (Many thanks to Ashlee for giving me the idea.)

I know photographers have all kinds of ways of delivering their pricing information: some of you ask potential clients to reach out to request a pricing guide, others of you put detailed information about packages and pricing on your website, and still others say something like, “Packages start at X,” without getting into the nitty gritty investment details until the client reaches out to you personally.

What’s the best way to handle this on your website?  

Let’s discuss.

The First Thing You Need to Do

However you deliver your pricing information, one of the first things you must do is provide a clear path to buy, so your potential clients will see your Investment or pricing info page in the first place.

What does this mean?

A clear path to buy will look different depending on what you sell, and how you sell it.

Let me illustrate with an example:

If you were selling inexpensive sterling silver jewelry in the $20-$30 range, for example, you’d likely have just a couple of steps between the customer finding your website, loving what they see, and clicking on the “Buy Now” button.

That’s because $20-$30 is a relatively inexpensive price point. It’s not a huge investment that someone needs to think long and hard about, consult their significant other about, or weigh the pros and cons of.

They also don’t have to check 20 other websites to see what else is out there in the same genre of thing they’re getting ready to fork over their dollars for before they make a buying decision.

All they need to feel comfortable purchasing is a clear picture of the jewelry, a compelling product description and/or product size & specs, info about the return policy, and a readily available “Buy Now” button.

Those elements are likely already on the page they’re viewing the jewelry on, so the path from landing on the website to the actual purchase is mostly frictionless.

That’s an example of a clear path to buy.

If, on the other hand, the potential jewelry customer encounters obstacles – they have to search high and low for the return policy, or the product specs, or delivery info, or the “buy now” button – they will leave that website faster than green grass through a goose, because there are at least a thousand other websites out there selling nearly identical sterling silver jewelry at the same price point where the path to buy is simple and clear.

Implementing Clear Path to Buy on Your Photography Website

Why all this talk about a clear path to buy?

Because unless you provide a clear path to buy, your potential clients aren’t likely to stick around your website long enough make it to your Investment page. 

I want you to really think about this, and how it applies it to your photography business.

With photography, the path to buy is different than our silver jewelry example, of course, because the investment is much larger.

There are more steps involved in making a sale, more personal attention required, more wooing of the client necessary, and therefore a greater need for persuasive client communication.

It needs to be crystal clear and super-easy for the potential client to take the initial steps in your sales process – from the second they land on your website and decide they’d like to learn more, to filling out your contact form or emailing you for more information – or you may lose them.

If there are obstacles between your potential clients’ desire to learn more about your services & pricing, and actually getting that information, they’ll likely move on the next website in that long list of at least several dozen other photographers who do what you do that came up when they googled “wedding photography Cincinnati” or “Austin portrait photography,” or whatever search term they used to find you.

Don’t give them a reason to do that by putting obstacles in their way. Make sure the path to buy on your website is so easy a caveman could figure it out, so your potential clients can easily and intuitively find and read your Investment page.

Ok, you understand the importance of a clear path to buy. That’s the first step.

How to Write Your Investment Page

Now that you’ve laid out a simple and intuitive path for your ideal clients to your Investment page, what should go on this page?

This assumes, of course, that you share the details of your photography packages on your website, which is what I recommend.

I know there are photographers (and other service providers) who would disagree, but having pricing information on your site weeds out those who can’t afford your services, and saves you from having to field inquiries from them.

It pre-qualifies the inquiries you do get, which is better for everybody.

This is how I do it on my website. Which means I generally don’t get emails from folks who have a tiny budget for copywriting and marketing services. There’s no long, drawn out, back-and-forth between me and the potential client only to discover several emails or conversations in that I’m not in their budget, after all.

If you don’t want to share the details of your pricing info on your site, you can simply say “Packages start at X,” so potential clients have some idea what to expect.

An Easy, No-Fuss Investment Page Template

Just so we’re on the same page here, I’m going to share one possible template you can use.

There are many ways to write what is essentially the “sales page” for your service offering – and that’s what your Investment page is, by the way, a sales page for your service. (If you Google “how to write a website sales page,” you’ll find 18,100,000 results. Have fun!)

What follows is NOT the be-all, end-all, “you must do it this way or you will fail” Investment page template.

What this template IS, is a very basic, very simple way to write your Investment page so it’s more client-attractive & effective than simply slapping up your prices and calling it a day. It’s straightforward and quick to knock out, and you don’t have to be a copywriting ninja to make it work.

You can get this handled in an afternoon, then when you have the bandwidth and the funds, you might want to take a basic copywriting course. You can find them online for not a lot of money. (If you’re doing any amount of business online – and if your website is meant to generate client leads, then you’re doing business online – you’ll want to learn the basics of copywriting.)

Here’s the template in a nutshell:

  • A Headline That Makes an Emotional Connection with Your Ideal Client
  • Short Client-Focused Paragraph or Bullet Points
  • Your Package Details and Pricing Information
  • Social Proof/Testimonials
  • A Call to Action (including an opportunity for folks who aren’t ready to commit to a consultation to reach out to you for more information)

Start with a Headline That Makes an Emotional Connection with Your Ideal Client

First things first – you must know who your ideal clients are and what they desire in order to write compelling headlines (and to write the rest of your website copy too, of course).

It’s not within the scope of this blog post to go into detail about how to write headlines. You can find many, many headline formulas and templates with a quick Google search. If you want to check out the detailed blog post I wrote on this topic, you can do so from the live link right here in this sentence. : )

Short Client-Focused Paragraph or Bullet Points

Next you want to have a short client-focused paragraph or bullet copy that speaks to your ideal clients and what they want. The goal is to grab them by the eyeballs by demonstrating that you understand their fears, hopes, dreams, desires and goals related to the kind of service you provide.

You want to warm up and romance your potential clients before you start throwing prices at them. Otherwise it’s like asking someone to marry you on the first date.

Keep in mind, you are writing this page, like all your website pages, using client-focused copy. That bit is very important.  Write your website copy to address your potential clients’ needs, hopes and desires.

To see examples of client-focused headlines + first paragraphs I’ve written for creative clients, check out the “Web Copy for Creative Businesses” category of my writing samples page.

There’s only one true “sales page” there, but the principal in each example is the same: a client-focused headline + client-focused paragraph or bullet points BEFORE you introduce what you have to offer. Most of the writing samples in my “Web Copy for Creative Businesses” model that.

Your Package Details and Pricing Information

If you already have your package and pricing information on your website, it’s simply a matter of adding the other elements I’ve outlined here before and after your pricing info where appropriate.

Social Proof

Add a “what others are saying” or testimonials section with a few quotes from clients about working with you. This builds trust.

A Call to Action

Create your call to action based on what you most want your audience to do next. In the case of your Investment page, you’ll most likely want folks to reach out to you for more information or to set up a complimentary consultation.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Here’s an example of call to action copy I wrote for a wedding photographer client a few years ago:

Ready to get started?

I photograph a limited number of weddings each year to ensure you receive the personalized service you deserve.

Contact me today for your no-strings-attached consultation to lock in your ideal date.

[Photographer email address & phone number here.]

Here’s one I wrote for a wedding photographer client more recently:

Want to get in touch?

To schedule a no-obligation consult or in-person meeting to discuss your special day & see if we’re a good fit to work together, please fill out my contact form here. I’ll get back to you within 48 hours during normal business hours.

Or feel free to email directly at [email address], or give me a call at [phone number].

I can’t wait to hear about your wedding plans!

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

For Potential Clients Who Aren’t Ready to Book a Consultation

Of course, some people who land on your Investment page are not going to be ready to book a consultation, but you still want to give them a next action to take.

They may be interested in your services, but have lingering questions about your pricing, your process, or if you’re a good fit for them before they commit to a one-on-one meeting or phone conversation.

To accommodate these folks, you’ll want to add a line that says something like, “Feel free to reach out to me with questions about packages & pricing, my complimentary consultation, or how I work. I’ll be happy to help you figure out if we’re a good fit.”

Your potential clients are afraid that when they reach out for more information, they’re going to get a sales pitch, so you want to alleviate that fear as much as you can in your Investment page copy.

In my copywriting business, I tell potential clients we can hop on the phone for a 15-20 minute no obligation conversation as a first step. I let them know that in this call they can share what they’re trying to accomplish with their website, and we can chat about my services and determine if working together makes sense.  That way they know there won’t be a sales pitch. This call is about me and the potential client exchanging information, and that’s it. No pressure, no hard sell.

Here’s that template again in a nutshell:

  • A Headline That Makes an Emotional Connection with Your Ideal Client
  • Short Client-Focused Paragraph or Bullet Points
  • Your Package Details and Pricing Information
  • Social Proof/Testimonials
  • A Call to Action (including an opportunity for folks who aren’t ready to commit to a consultation to reach out to you for more information)

Alternatively, you can write your Investment page like a straight-up Sales Page. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be aggressive or overly “salesy” when writing this copy.

Here are two resources you might want to check out if that’s the route you decide to take:

#1: The Naked Truth Sales Letter Formula. Many very wise and skilled copywriters recommend this sales page template, and I’ve used it myself for my own stuff occasionally. It’s one of the quickest ways to just get something down on paper you can work with to create a good sales page. (The article references writing a “sales letter,” but the principles are the same when you’re writing a sales page/sales message for your website.)

Some of you are going to take one look at that formula and think, “No way in h-e-double-hockey-sticks am I using that model to write my Investment page.” That’s fine, but do yourself a solid and take note of the timeless copywriting principles you’ll find therein.

#2: This is an article written by Amanda Genther called My 8-Step Process for Writing Sales Page Copy. It’s pretty darn good, especially if you’re writing your own sales copy for the first time.

Dos and Don’ts

Let me finish off this long-arse blog post with a few dos & don’ts.

I reviewed many, oh-so-many, wedding, portrait, boudoir, and lifestyle photography websites to see what my photographer friends are up to on their websites to prep for writing this blog post, and noted some good, and not-so-good, practices when it comes to Investment pages.

Here ya go:

:: Do call the page “Investment,” “Services,” “Wedding Packages,” or similar in the navigation menu/button copy. You can call it “Pricing” or “Price List” if you wish, because at least that’s clear, but I think “Investment” works better. The bottom line is, you want people to be able to instantly find your pricing & packages information. It all goes back to the “clear path to buy.”

:: Don’t call it “Details,” or “Information,” because it’s not immediately clear to people that that’s where they’ll find the packages & pricing info.  Remember, you want a smooth sales process, the fewer obstacles, the better.

:: Do make it about your client and their needs.

:: Don’t go on and on about your camera equipment or other tech-related photography stuff on the Investment page. Your potential clients don’t really care about that.

:: If you’re going to tell people to contact you from your Investment page (and you are), do give them your contact info ON THAT PAGE, or paste in the direct link to your contact page at the end of your Investment page copy.

You’d think that would go without saying, but I saw some version of this on several sites I looked at:

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Hello! Thanks for stopping by and checking out my website. I’d love to hear all about your plans for the big day! You can customize any of my photography packages. My base wedding package begins at $3,400, and all packages include image files.   

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

And that’s it, end of story.

There was no call to action directing folks to get in touch, and no contact information. You have to scroll back up to the main menu at the top of the website, then click on the “Contact” page nav button to reach out to the photographer. This is an obstacle in the path to buy. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

:: Do tell people about your process and how it works. Many photographers don’t do this, yet most people have never hired a photographer for anything, and are uncomfortable if they don’t have all the information about what to expect. So give them that. You can do this on an FAQ page, and link to the FAQ page from your Investment page with a call to action like, “Want to learn more about my process? Check out my FAQ page here to get all your questions answered!” or something similar.

:: Don’t refer to yourself in the third person, as in, “John is available for weddings worldwide.” It’s off-putting and creates a barrier between you and the potential client. Better to be warm, personable, and approachable by writing your copy in the first person.

:: If you ask folks to email you for pricing information, do say something like, “wedding packages begin at $3200,” or “portrait sessions start at $500,” or similar to give potential clients some idea of what to expect.  You don’t want to waste their time or yours if they have a maximum budget of $2000, and your lowest cost package is $3500.

:: If you do include detailed pricing information on your Investment page, lead with your higher priced packages for price anchoring.

Conclusion

And there you have it. I hope this resource helps you write an Investment page for your photography business that vastly increases the number of high-quality client leads you get.

Resources for Photographers

By the way, I’m launching a budget-friendly course for photographers, 30 Days to a Magnetic Marketing Message That Sells: A Course for Wedding, Portrait, and Lifestyle Photographers, in Fall 2017.

This course will help you determine who your ideal clients are and what your unique selling proposition or “meaningful difference” is, & teach you how to use that information to create a client-attractive marketing message for your photography business that helps you stand out in an overcrowded market, attract & connect with your ideal clients, & get more bookings.

Get on the VIP notice list to find out when the course launches right here.