Reach Out and Touch Someone: Snappy Copy Begins with a Commitment to Service

by | May 10, 2007

A few weeks back a client in one of my coaching groups asked for help selecting phrases for her home page that would get first time visitors to enter the site for more information. Rather than trying to think up clever, “sexy,” inviting phrases, we started asking, how does the site and the services and products offered serve the typical visitor?
After about an hour of looking this and related questions, writing copy that would connect with visitors was a snap. Here’s the process we used. Try it yourself the next time you want to reach out and touch someone!
Seven Steps to Writing Effective, Catchy Headline/Teaser Copy
1. Who are you writing for? Write down everything you know about your reader. Who are they? What got them to your site? How old are they? Where do they live? How much time do they have to get information? What are their values and concerns?
2. What are they looking for? How did they wind up at your Web site (or reading the cover of your brochure or the headline of your flier?) Summarize the key objectives, hopes, desires of the reader. Do not worry about people who got to your site or material by accident or mistake.
3. What is the most attractive or useful thing you have to offer to this audience? What one thing do you have to offer that the appropriate audience for your products or services wants? Jot it down in bullet points.
4. What could keep your reader/visitor from deciding to try your product or service? What do they want that would make your offer really convenient, appealing, a no-brainer? What might get in the way? Cost? Fear? Distance? Pre-requisites? Misconceptions? Make a bulleted list of three to five things that could be a problem in the mind of your audience.
5. How does your program or service or Web site reduce or remove these obstacles? Write down your answers.
6. Underline the concerns, needs, problems that your program addresses very well.
7. Choose three things that your program does very well, that will be appealing to your audience, and that differentiate you from other programs or services.
Now that you’ve done your homework, you’re ready to draft some copy. Here’s a format that works well.
Headline: Tell the visitor in under nine words that you have what they want. This comes from the answer the question 2. Example: “Pave the way for your child’s success with music.”
Subhead: Name the characteristic of your program/service/product that is most attractive to your audience. This could come from the answers to questions 3, 5, and 7. All you need is one strong statement; don’t try to put everything into your subhead. Example: “Enjoyable activities for every age level.”
Three catch phrases: Remove concerns or obstacles and emphasize the ways your offer fits your audience’s needs. This comes from the answers to question 7. Example:
* There are dozens of MyTunes classes every week; find one in your neighborhood.
* Choose one of our convenient, flexible tuition plans.
* Free carpools and childcare for siblings.
Play with different ways to write the subhead and catch phrases until you get one you like. Write a “shitty first draft” and share it with others to get their feedback. Now you get to work on being interesting. But the great thing is that if you have done your homework, you don’t need catchy, clever language to get people’s attention because you will achieve that simply by speaking so clearly to their needs and desires.