In 2016, I worked with Valerie Queyrel, a counsellor and hypnotherapist, to refine her messaging, create a tagline and a new brand identity. She was delighted and got to work marketing her business.
However, two years later her business had changed. She no longer worked with as many men, felt further removed from the corporate world she had left behind, and she wanted to drop some of her services. The previous two years had shown her what services people wanted and what she most enjoyed doing. Her business was growing and she wanted to be more choosy about who to work with.
It was time for a website and brand refresh.
She asked me to help her refine her messages to reflect these changes. The back end of her website wasn't working well for her either. For example, people booking onto her 6-week weight loss programmes couldn't access the materials online and Valerie had to manually email every person. She wanted her site to look and feel more professional, while really appealing to her ideal clients.
I took Valerie through the Campfire Clarity process to get super clear on who her ideal clients were and what journey they will go on when they work with her. Using this as the base for her new web copy, I set about refining her website structure so that it was easier for people to navigate to what they needed.
Next I wrote the web copy for the multiple website pages, refining the structure so that it was obvious what action the visitor should take next. I also wrote the client emails that would become automated going forward instead of Valerie having to manually cut and paste information and helped her source a website developer who could build the site, creating the back end functionality and online members area.
However, when the new copy was put into the website (see the image above), it wasn't enough of a change to reflect what Valerie was all about. The old look had a more masculine, corporate feel. Valerie in contrast is French, supportive and nurturing. Her logo and colours needed to change to something softer and more ....well, Valerie.
I created mock ups of what each page of the site should look like to ensure the words and images all came together. Every page was mocked up with suggested colours and flow for the website developer to follow.
You can see screen shots of it below or click here to see the real thing.
This is what Valerie had to say (loosely transcribed from a lovely 6 minute video message she sent me - you can watch the video below if you prefer):
"Melissa’s mind has the ability to map out in a very short time, the essence of your business. What I couldn’t see clearly, she was able to summarise in the space of a one hour session.
She also has a talent for words. She is able to articulate what I was offering to perfectly match my audience. The cherry on the cake is that she also has an artistic flair. The combination of these three – the map out, the wording and the artistic flair - gives you the perfect combination to bring your vision to life. Sometimes we don’t even know ourselves what that vision is. But somehow her mind can see it, explore it and exploit it. For me, my website is my shop window so I had to make it as perfect as possible.
If you look at my first website that I worked with Melissa on – it was created when I was just leaving the corporate world. I still had a very structured way of working and I had initially been told when I trained, that there was no money in counselling. So in my first website, I was targeting male and female audience, trying to get as many clients as I could.
As the years went by I became more confident and the business became more and more successful. This allowed me to be choosy with my clientele. I have a very nurturing side but my first website didn’t show it. I didn’t even realise that I wanted my nurturing side to show. After just a few minutes of consultation with Melissa, this is what was needed to happen. Melissa suggested more pastel colours like duck egg blue. Just look at the website – it’s warm, friendly, approachable, clear and very concise. It’s a pleasure to look at.
This has been the perfect approach for me. Melissa has definitely been an important factor in the way my practice is doing. She has been a turning point in my daughter and my life. As a single mum, I had to make it work. I invested and surrounded myself with people who could help me do so. It allowed me to focus on my clients and business and what I’m good at.
I did not just use Melissa for the website. As a business owner, it can be a little bit lonely. I used Melissa for one hour here and there. It could have been fixing my Christmas post, it could be my newsletters, she has helped me with so many things I can’t even recall now. Whenever I needed to bounce back ideas or feel unsure, I turn to her.
I love my new website. It feels professional and it looks cracking good."
If you could do with my help - whether it's a full CampfireClarity package or just bits and pieces of support to take things off your plate, get in touch.
A year ago I worked with Catherine Bowyer, an Australian lifestyle strategist and coach, to help her get clarity on where to take her business. During our clarity session, she realised that she wanted to shift away from corporate coaching towards personal coaching. She then used my Copy & Canvas package to give her website a make-over and to tell her brand story. You can read this blog to see the process we went through. I caught up with her to find out how things were going a year on from our work together. This is what she said:
How has business unfolded?
After our initial sessions of working together, I was able to gain clarity about the core messaging of my business and how all the pieces fit together – coaching programs, workshops, retreats and products. Having this clarity has really helped me to move forward with my business. I went from confusion and overwhelm to clarity and getting on and promoting my business.
The focus in my business has always been about helping people to be the best versions of themselves and living their best lives, however you helped me to narrow down what I really do. I’m really about helping people to be happy. This was a very important point for me as it is the underlying message of everything I do in my business.
You asked me a question of ‘What’s my thing’; what’s the ‘thing’ that represents me'. I pondered over this for a while because I wasn’t really sure, but after a bit of probing from you, I was able to crystallise that my ‘thing’ is being at the beach and being in the sun. This formed the basis for imagery for my website and marketing material and still does – I always look for fun, beachy images where appropriate.
Another big thing that came out of working with you was the name for my monthly women’s meet ups. As I hadn’t started the groups when we were working together, I was confused about how to market them. I knew what I wanted them to be but not sure how to create the right messaging around them.
You came up with the name ‘Happiness Hive’ which is absolutely perfect. I have been running these groups once a month for 12 months in June. This group is all about inspiration, motivation, education and having fun. I get 20-30 women attending each month and they lovingly refer to themselves as ‘Happy Hivers’ or just ‘Hivers’. I love this. We discuss a different topic each month and have different guest speakers. There is a core group of women attending with newbies each month. We have created an awesome place that has a really ‘buzzing’ vibe! It really is even better than I originally imagined.
The Happiness Hive isn’t a money-making venture for me (it actually ends up costing me money), however it is an awesome platform to promote myself and what I do. I have gained new coaching clients as a result of running HH. This really is a passion project for me and is leading to opportunities for my business. I have set up a Happiness Hive Facebook group where I mirror the monthly topics and interact with the group. A bit of a tricky thing is that the meet-ups are in Canberra, however people in the HH fb group are from all around Australia and the world. I try to make sure I cater for these differences, so people don’t feel left out if they can’t attend the meet up.
I have Trademarked ‘Happiness Hive’ so no one else in Australia can use that term – I own it!
Did the new brand identity help grow your business?
To a certain degree. One of the main things has been the Happiness Hive, which helps me market my services and which has brought in new coaching clients.
I am also setting up a ‘Happiness 4 Humanity’ program – personal transformation programs that I will be running in a little village in Cambodia in 2020, with participants from anywhere in the world. The programs will be multi-faceted: participants attending the programs will make profound and lasting changes in themselves and their lives and we will also contribute to the lives of women living in impoverished communities.
Another thing I plan on doing this year is setting up ‘Your One Life, Happiness Foundation’ where a percentage of all sales from my business will be donated. The Foundation will then give back to women in the way of providing scholarships, resources, and support to help them on their path to happiness and being the best version of themselves.
And hopefully this year I will also set up ‘The Happiness Hive Membership Lounge’ – this will be a premier membership program designed to support women experience happiness and success in every area of their lives.
These initiatives were there before I worked with you last year, however you helped me get the clarity about what to call them and how they fit together. As you can see ‘Happiness’ is the key theme that runs through my business initiatives. And now that I have clarity, it frees up my mind to get on and do stuff, instead of feeling overwhelmed how it is all going to fit together.
Did it change the way you felt about your business?
Yes! Having ‘Happiness’ as the core of everything I do in my business, has helped me to emulate this core message in everything I do – in my business and in my personal life. To be completely honest, it feels perfect. My business felt great before, but now it feels really great!
Having clarity about my core messaging has also helped me to think about my personal brand and do I match the ‘happiness’ vibe. I think I do!
How did people respond to your new look and the new services you were offering - particularly the meet ups that you wanted to hold?
People love it. I am focussing on working with women and that’s what my brand says. I chose to go with a bit of a retro, relaxed, friendly, upbeat theme for my website and marketing material. I get comments because people are recognising the brand. I think the imagery is fun, playful and friendly, which is what me and my business are about.
Women love, love, love the Happiness Hive. I’m getting 20-30 women there each month and I’m in two minds about whether to try and grow it or leave it at this size. I think I might try and get about 40 women there. If it get’s too big, it starts becoming something that I’m not sure I want it to be. There are lots of other opportunities to cater for larger group sizes.
What other new things have you implemented in your business since?
I have finalised my DIY program. I had the content developed before we started working together, however after the key messaging of ‘Happiness’, I called the program ‘Find Your Happy’. I also had a freebie resource which I referred to as the Life Wheel – I’ve changed the name to ‘Happiness Checker’.
I’ve run a free online program called Happiness Seven: 7 days to a happy, new you (the fastest and easiest way to being happy and loving life!). I’ve also run ‘Happy New You: Making 2018 your best year yet!
As part of my Happiness Hive fb group, I run regular fb live sessions which are based on the topic of the month.
What plans or ambitions do you have for it moving forward?
To expand the reach of my business including Happiness Hive and look for opportunities of collaborating with other women locally and online.
As my reach with Happiness Hive is reasonably strong, I am going to start introducing workshops and seminars that build on our monthly topics. I will continue to use HH as a platform for marketing my other products and services.
I’ll be introducing the membership lounge, Happiness Foundation and Happiness 4 Humanity programs over the next 12-24 months.
Any final thoughts?
Thanks again for helping me gain clarity in my business. It really set the foundation of what I’m about and has allowed me to move forward instead of feeling stuck and overwhelmed. Your work helped tie everything together and has freed me up to enhance what I do. I’ve definitely got the confidence now to promote my business, which I was a bit nervous about before we started working together. Thank you.
I just want to congratulate Catherine on doing so many brilliant things with her business. How inspiring to see someone take an idea and grow it into something that makes other women - and herself - happy. Love it!
If you could benefit from Catherine's services, do check out her links or join her Happiness Hive on Facebook.
Catherine's Facebook page
Catherine's Happiness Hive Group on Facebook
Over on the Campfire Club, someone asked how you manage when you simply have too much to do. I shared some tips on making a list of what has to happen and then outsourcing. But it got me thinking. There are just 5 weeks until Christmas and only 6 until 2018. It's like someone put the clocks on fast forward. And for many people, there is too much to do and not enough time to do it in.
Often the worry of what we need to do is actually bigger than the thing itself. Once you've written a list, it's easier to see what you have to do and can start to tick it off. But sometimes it will still be easier to hand some of the tasks over to someone else.
But that in itself can seem like a job: Find someone to do XYZ, brief them, manage them. What if they don't do it well enough? And so you don't do anything and your to do list gets longer.
I wanted to share three examples from the last week of how I helped people by taking something off their plate effortlessly. They didn't need to spoon feed me or wait on lengthy proposals or micro manage the process. They simply got in touch, explained what they needed and I did it. Job done.
Peter got in touch on Sunday and asked me to write an award submission for him as the deadline was fast approaching but he couldn't find the right words. I chatted to him at 3pm yesterday. He had his completed award submission by 6pm. Job done. He said:
'Thanks Melissa, That looks good.'
Jane got in touch last week, saying she needed words for a flyer for an event, but didn't seem to be getting to it because of everything else she had to do. I took a brief in the morning and she had her copy that afternoon. It's now with her designer and printer. She can hit her event with marketing materials sorted. Job done. She said:
'Yep - this fits the bill very nicely!! Thanks, Melissa - I knew you’d crack to for me!'
I went to see Helen and team on Wednesday last week. She had some blog posts that needed to be written, one of which I felt could make a good press story. By yesterday afternoon I had written a communications plan; four blog posts; three emails going to staff, customers and colleges; researched an industry issue; discovered that it was going to be covered in the Autumn budget speech tomorrow; wrote up a press release; found the email for the CEO of a company we wanted a quote from; reached out to her and got her quote approved via her press team; wrote tailored pitches for trade, regional, national and broadcast press; found the right press contacts; sent the news out; put the news on a wire service; sourced a videographer for them; identified three award opportunities for the company and am now working on those. Job in progress but mostly done. They said:
'Thank you Melissa. All fantastic!' and 'You are a machine!'
My point? You don't have to do this all yourself. If you have little thing that needs to be written or a major project that you need help with, I - or someone like me - can take it off your plate. I work fast and efficiently. If I see marketing opportunities that may benefit you or have ideas that might work, I'll suggest them free of charge.
I charge an hourly rate or if it's a big project, can give you a project-based quote in advance. It doesn't matter if you are a sole trader or a big company, I am the extra pair of hands you need to help you get through your to do list. Get in touch and give yourself the gift of time this crazy season. You will be so glad you did.
Does this sound like you? You've been running your business for a while but it's no longer what you really want to do. There are bits of it you love and bits you'd like to drop. But you aren't sure how to make the switch. You'll need to come up with new packages, services, messages, copy and possibly even a new name, tagline and logo. You can't market the new things you want to offer because you have nothing to steer people to. It all seems too overwhelming so you don't do anything and stay stuck half-heartedly doing the thing you've always done while dabbling in the new bits.
I see this all the time. Clients who come to me in desperate need of clarity to help them make the shift. Sometimes it takes an outsider to validate the change and give them the confidence to take the leap.
I was recently contacted by Suné Markowitz-Shulman, a nutritionist who has spent years helping people lose weight. It's what she trained in but it is no longer her passion. Over the years of working with people trying to lose weight, she noticed that it wasn't what they were putting on their plate that was the problem, it was what was going on in their heads. She began to incorporate coaching but clients kept coming to her for a quick fix diet plan. She knew she wanted to change her offerings but she was stuck as to how to do that.
Should she change her business name? Should she target different people? Should she still offer the nutrition services? What should she offer? How could she make her business different? In fact, when she came to me, she said this:
"I have so much going on in my head that I may take up a lot of airtime explaining here. In short, I'm a nutritional therapist and have been in practice for over 10 years with various successes. I am looking to rebrand/revamp my career and message and do more coaching and although health and wellbeing has always what I've been doing, I'm a bit bored of the 'what is your diet like' question. Not sure if I should 'marry' all my skills or focus on the rebrand and what will that look or sounds like. As it looks like at the moment I need everything that you offer but would love to find out more and discuss what the best way forward is. I've had about 6 websites and have never been proud or happy about my offer and want to get it right without wanting to change everything every two years."
We decided that it was best for her to start with a Clarity session so we could get clear on what it was she wanted to offer. Suné had already completed my free Campfire Clarity Workbook so we used that as her starting point. Over two hours we chatted about what she was hoping to achieve. I then went away and condensed that into a summary document for her that included:
"Thank you SO much for this. The whole experience has been exactly what I needed. You are amazing at capturing my muddled thoughts. I am excited and inspired and reading it all over and over again!"
Next up, I got to work on her Copy & Canvas. We had a second short call to clarify a few things before I knuckled down to the process of transformation.
Here's what changed:
Business name: From Nutrition Redefined to Kitchen Table Coach (www.kitchentable.coach) - site not yet live
Tagline: A nutritionist for the mind
Her location: Suné works from home - out of the spare bedroom. But I suggested that she move her nutrition coaching into the kitchen. The idea was to create a feel of sitting at a kitchen table - the heart of any home and where nutrition really matters - with a friend who listens, encourages and educates.
Her opt in: We switched this to be a guide that helps people figure out what the real reason behind their weight problems are (and it's not what they eat)
Her packages: Suné had too many packages on offer, which became confusing. They also attracted the wrong kind of client - the type who wanted a quick diet fix. We changed this into a very simple process of:
Her ideal clients: Suné no longer wants to work with people who just want to know which foods to eat and in what quantities. She wants to work with people who want to address the real reasons behind why the eat what they do and how they can change their entire approach to food and thoughts about themselves.
Her message: We completely shifted the words on her site from being diet and nutrition focused to being about coaching, personal contentment and freedom from food.
Her logo, colour scheme, fonts and imagery: I mocked up a new modern logo for Suné, with suggested fonts and a choice of colour schemes. I asked her to send me a photograph of her kitchen and used the colours in that as the palette for her brand. I suggested the type of images she should have taken by a professional photographer. She will now get a designer to create a final logo version, get photography done and is building her new site.
Her future plans: We plotted out some ideas to expand both the number of one-on-one clients she will see, to holding group cooking demonstrations in her kitchen to writing a book. But these are all plotted out in a way that feel manageable and achievable rather than overwhelming.
This is what Suné had to say once she got the completed copy and canvas package:
"I was so excited to get your email on Friday and the excitement is lasting. You have totally captured my message and brand so beautifully and this is the one thing that has been holding me back for way too long. I am looking forward to building the website and getting out there promoting my new brand and concise message to the world. You have been so professional and speedy, which is also a great inspiration, but I can think of so many people who would benefit from your work. THANK YOU!"
Many nutritionists have before and after pictures of their clients - pre weight loss and after. Well here are some before and after pictures of the nutritionist! She's lost her old business and gained an entirely new one! (I should say that these images are suggestions only. The final product will come from a designer.) But now Suné has an in-depth brief she can take to a designer to ensure that her new business comes alive.
Could I help you do the same for your business? Get in touch.
Is there anything lovelier than a hand written note? Whether it's a love letter or a note of friendship or even a personal journal, there is something utterly beguiling about the written word. Even more so when that note is secreted away, waiting to be found.
Which is exactly what you get with a brand new product called My Billet Doux. Literally translated as 'sweet note', My Billet Doux is a beautiful handmade silk cushion that has a discreet pocket on the back for a hidden notebook and pen. The cushions are decorated with a vintage ribbon, each with a story of its own and some dating back to the 1800s.
Natalia Willmott, the creator of the cushions, asked for my help in crafting the words for her new website. She explains: 'I needed help getting word clarity for my website and to explain a new concept. My product is unique but can be difficult to describe. I wanted to really capture the romance and history behind the idea.'
As a Publicity for Solopreneurs student, I already knew Natalia but this is a brand new business venture for her and she wanted to nail the words to explain the concept. I spent a bit of time with her, looking at the cushions, and seeing the details and finishing touches that make the products so unique. I learnt about her back story and her motivation behind the cushion idea. Then I set to work.
It was a lovely, but tough, challenge. It's a tricky concept to explain and as the cushions can be used for so many reasons - from romantic wedding gifts, a gift between friends, or a keepsake item to be handed down - it took a careful use of words to get the tone just right. There were also many elements that needed explaining, like the concept of love letters, the quality of the silk cushions, the vintage stories of the ribbons and the ways in which the cushions could be used. Not forgetting that we needed the words to be SEO friendly and had to sound beautiful too!
The scope of the copywriting work included her about page - including the idea behind the products and her back story - and product category descriptions. But I also helped Natalia flesh out some new ways the cushions could be used to broaden their appeal even further and I came up with ideas on how to turn her blog into a series of love letters.
This is what Natalia had to say: 'Melissa got the message I wanted to convey and tone of the website spot on. She has the ability to 'tidy' your words and sentences into proper language that is clear and engaging. She works really well under time pressure and delivers everything (and more) she offers. Thanks for helping me out!'
You're welcome Natalia - it was a fabulous project to work on. And best of luck with your new venture.
If you know anyone who would love a gorgeous gift like this, please do check out her website (and while you're there, read the copy!)
If you would like help with your website copy, take a look at my Copy packages and then get in touch.
Sometimes when you run your own business, you get stuck. You aren’t even sure why you’re stuck, you just know that you are. It makes it really difficult to try and figure out what kind of help you need because you aren’t quite sure where the problem lies. Sound familiar?
Well here’s an example of a client I worked with and how we got her unstuck.
In January this year I got an email from a lovely lady – Catherine Bowyer - in Australia. Here’s a snippet of what she said:
I have a business in Canberra, Australia where I conduct corporate training and coaching with Government organisations. I also conduct some personal coaching for private clients.
In relation to setting up my personal programs, I'm not really 100% sure of how to progress this. I have the concepts of what I want to do (big picture) and sort of know how they fit together. I get frustrated because I want to be doing everything now, but know I have to take baby steps and focus on one thing at a time.
I have had a website designed, because I felt I had to do something. I am happy with the layout and the look of the site, however I don't think it is very well written and there needs to be so much more done in relation to engaging with clients. I feel pretty overwhelmed thinking about it, because I honestly don't know what I don't know. Funny - I help people get unstuck as part of my business, but find it really hard doing it for myself. So that's where you come in .....
So here’s what we did.
Step 1: Clarity Workbook
Catherine found me as she had downloaded my free Campfire Clarity workbook and she’d completed it. This is a simple way to start getting clarity in your business, so if you need some help and aren’t sure where to start, get the workbook here. We used Catherine's completed workbook as a briefing document for our clarity session.
Step 2: Clarity session
We held a clarity session over skype. This involved a one to two hour call during which we discussed where she was currently at and what she wanted her new business to be. We clarified who her ideal target clients were, what problem they faced and how they felt. Then we looked at the programmes and packages she could offer to solve these problems and how to structure them. We analysed what similar coaches were offering and found her USP to stand out from the competition. Next we looked at the tone of voice she should use on her site and the type of imagery she should have. Lastly we identified issues with her current website and next steps.
What became clear through this process was that there was a mismatch between what she wanted the business to be and what her website reflected. For example:
We decided that Catherine’s USPs are that:
The imagery and words had to capture the excitement, possibility and freedom that women – who she worked with – would feel. I gave her four different imagery approaches to choose from, depending on which resonated most with her.
Step 3: Copy & Canvas
Catherine could have taken the summary document, complete with mini collages of imagery types and reworked her website herself.
But she chose my Copy & Canvas package instead. This involves plotting out a site map, writing all the web copy and creating an image canvas for the entire site. Some people want to have a photo shoot of their own. So for them I give them image types and styles with suggested pictures to include in the shoot to ensure that they reflect the words.
For others who want to buy or use free stock images, I help find those images for them and create a private Pinterest board so that they have them complete with purchase links. My clients can then hand this entire board and all the copy over to a web designer, who can weave their design magic and makeover the site.
Catherine loved the retro images of women who were living happy lives of freedom. She wanted to create a sense of fun and possibility. I felt that she needed to share her own story and her sense of fun and happiness through her site, so I suggested she intersperse plenty of pictures of her in the site.
I wrote the copy based on some of the exact words she’d said in our clarity call. I also took what we’d discussed in our clarity session and helped her shape her packages.
For example, Catherine was confused about how to structure her various offerings. Through the clarity and copywriting process, we created four distinct offerings:
That last one proved our biggest challenge. Catherine wanted to call it The High Heels Connection, because the events would help women ‘step up into success in all aspects of their lives.’ But I wasn’t keen on the name. To me, the high heels bit felt too corporate again. It didn’t say ‘happy’, which is what the rest of the site was trying to achieve.
Catherine suggested ‘Happiness Boutique’, which was a strong contender, but I still didn’t feel that we’d nailed it. I came up with a bunch of different names, with corresponding images and copy to support it. In the end, we both agreed that the Happiness Hive worked, as it gave energy, a buzz and excitement.
By the end of January, Catherine had all of this work done. She handed it over to her web designer to take care of while she focused on her existing corporate clients.
Her site is now live and she is beginning to market it. If you are a woman in the Canberra area or indeed anywhere in the world who needs coaching to live a happier life, do check out her website.
This is what Catherine said at the time about the work I did:
O M G!!! I've just had an initial read through while I'm sitting at the hairdresser and it is looking and sounding AMAZING! You are so talented - taken my garbled messages and woven your magic to make them sound wonderful. I almost cried when I was reading through it - it is really reflecting what my business and I are about. Thank you.
And more recently, this is what she has said about the process:
"Now that I'm several months down the track from the Clarity and Copy and Canvas programs I did with you I can see the real value of your work. Gaining clarity of how everything in my business fits together has catapulted me forward - I bring everything back to 'what is the core message of my business'. I make sure the messages in my marketing, correspondence and even how I speak with people all come back to my core message. You definitely helped me to get unstuck and move forward. Gaining clarity has done more than help me set the direction of my business, it has been freed up my thinking so I can work on the things that really matter. Thanks again for your amazing work! Cxx"
So if you are feeling stuck and want some help moving your business forward, get in touch.
Many years ago, I worked in tech PR. My job was to get the press to write about subjects like routers, ERP systems and storage area networks. It was gripping stuff. I understood none of it. But I had to be able to translate the tech complexity and put it into words that a journalist or reader would understand. I used to sit with the tech client and ask them to explain it to me in a way that a four year old could understand. I didn't tell them that, actually, I didn't understand and I was the four year old in question...
But I didn't just used to ask how the technology worked, I'd ask why anyone should care. What problem was it solving? Who would use the tech? How would it make their life easier? What business impact did this tech have? I would ask questions until I was sure that I had at least a semi decent understanding as to what it was about. And then I would write. I would use the simplest language I could find so that I understood it. I would ask myself, 'Does the reader really need to know that widget x plugs into widget y?' If it didn't add to the reader's comprehension, I'd leave it out.
Turns out that my tech ignorance gave me the best grounding in writing for an audience anyone could hope for. I learned the acronym KISS - Keep It Simple Stupid.
I regularly have clients come to me asking for help with their web copy. Regardless of the client or what sector they are in, their copy almost always has the same problem: it's too darn long. There are a number of reasons for this:
What they end up with is reams of repetitive text that still manages to say nothing to convince a client to buy. Their mistake? They aren't keeping it simple.
Here's how I fix the problem - and how you can fix your own web copy by following the same approach. I should warn you that although the end result is simple to understand copy, the process itself takes a bit of work. But if you put the effort in, you will end up with simple, easy to read and effective copy. As someone once said, 'If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.'
Step 1 - Get clarity of vision and general business purpose
I have a clarity session with my clients first in which I get a really clear understanding of what this business of theirs is all about. Often, this clarity session helps them get clear on this too! What they thought they wanted the business to be can end up being something entirely different by the end of the session.
Step 2 - Get into the head of your ideal clients
I ask questions. Lots of them. The same way I used to ask my tech clients about their complex products, I ask my clients all about their clients. You need to ask yourself the same questions.
Step 3 - Get clear about your offerings
It may seem obvious that you know what you do. But many of my clients get stuck when it comes to putting that down in words or structured into packages. Clients want it to be simple and clear how you can help them, so make it easy for them to understand in a logical step by step way.
Step 4 - Get your own story clear
An About page is where people turn to learn more about you the person or the back story to the company. This is where you can really inject your personality if you're a solopreneur, but be sure to back up the passion with your professional credentials and information.
Step 5 - Write
Once you've done all this thinking and clarity work with some rough writing thrown in, you need to get it into a first draft. By going through the clarity process though, it should be a lot easier. You've done the thinking bit, now it's simply a case of putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. Some tips to write effectively:
Need an example? I worked with a lovely client who offers Free Motor Legal Insurance. I know. Legal and Insurance all in the same breath. It's hardly an excitement-fest. But it's a very valid problem that people face, so it was all about writing about a complex thing in an easy to understand way that will make people want to sign up to his free service. I took the long, detailed legal explanations of how it all worked and just kept it super simple. You can see the results here. It is now clear what people have to do and the benefits they'll get.
I did the same for a solopreneur who creates Global Mobility Policies for HR teams. Again, not an easy to understand, super sexy offering, but for the people who need this help, it's a lifesaver. I stripped back all the complexity and kept it simple. You can see the results here.
If you would like similar help, take a look at my Clarity package and my Copy & Canvas offering. I know everyone thinks writing is simple, but there are many steps to it. Sometimes having an outsider see you for who you are and translate that into words, is the best investment you can make for your business. As one recent Clarity, Copy & Canvas client said:
'O M G!!! I've just had an initial read through while I'm sitting at the hairdresser and it is looking and sounding AMAZING! You are so talented - taken my garbled messages and woven your magic to make them sound wonderful. I almost cried when I was reading through it - it is really reflecting what my business and I are about. Thank you'
And then she followed up saying:
'You are truly amazing and I'm so happy with how much you've helped me in such a short time - Clarity workbook prep prior to meeting; chat to understand my business last Tuesday; summary of discussion and ideas for moving forward on Wednesday; (major) draft copy produced by Friday. I would definitely recommend Melissa to help you gain clarity for your business - she is extremely talented. Thank you.' Catherine Bowyer.
As it's Yorkshire Day today, it is only appropriate that I share a little client case study from the city of York.
Hedley House Hotel in York is run by a born and bred Yorkshireman Greg Harrand. He got in touch saying he needed some fresh web copy. I took a look at his site and gave him some Yorkshire honesty, which was: you need a new website.
Websites date so quickly that even though you think you only recently had it done, within a few years that slick site can look a bit dull.
I know Greg, so I popped around to the hotel and took a brief. I wanted to get to the heart of what made the hotel different to all the others in York, a city not shy of hotels.
What came out strongly was that this is a hotel run by locals, who serve local food and have local knowledge. You get a proper taste of down to earth Yorkshire hospitality. Modern touches with old-fashioned friendliness.
I suggested a new logo, new fonts, new colours, new tagline and a better laid out website, with copy written in a tone of voice that matches the feel of the hotel.
Whenever I do this for a client who has their own web designer, I make it very clear how I think it should be laid out and what type of imagery should be used so that it is easy and quick to implement.
I'm pleased to say that the new site is now live - just a couple of weeks after sending the copy over! And it looks fantastic. Take a look at it here - and if you fancy a mini break in York, I can highly recommend Hedley House Hotel.
This is what the client had to say:
'I've read your work and I love it..!! A few minor amendments here and there but it's ace.'
If you need some fresh web copy and some brand direction, take a look at my Campfire Kit service.
An Irishman, a Mancunian and a Liverpudlian walk into a bar….well actually it was an office in Leeds where I was meeting them to take a brief to help figure out their general brand strategy and web copy for their new venture. They knew what they wanted to do, they just didn't know how to say it.
Development and property managers for £1 million plus developments, they needed a website that had gravitas to appeal to their clients. But more importantly, it needed to be different from all the others out there that seemed to put buildings - rather than people - front and centre. That was the brief.
We got to work. By work, I mean I listened to the banter between these three friends as they spoke about what they felt made them different. Sure they had heaps of experience. And yes, they did think differently, cleverly and delivered amazing service while leading from the front. But we still hadn't nailed THE big idea. There was work to do.
I left the meeting with copious notes and a smile on my face, because they were genuinely funny guys. Back at my desk I scratched my head. What was it that was really different about their business?
Then it hit me. It was them.
They were this business. Their individual personalities, the fact that they love sport, hiking together, that they all bring different strengths to the party. They were a team. And when they work with their clients, they pull the client's team together.
So I led with that - teamwork. I found images that demonstrated teamwork in sports, something we all agreed would appeal to their clients too. The same images also reflected some of their other values: challenge, adventurous spirit and being at the top of their game. We opted for simple, crisp black and white images to set off their bright pink logo (which in itself is pretty different for this sector).
I wrote their web copy in a personal yet professional tone of voice, with concise, punchy words, not corporate speak. It had to be human to reflect them, while still having the gravitas to appeal to clients.
It took a few drafts, as we refined and tweaked it so that all three were happy.
But we got there in the end. Their designer created their site. I wrapped up their brand style guide. Now their website is live. Thanks to John, Justin and Graham from Box Clever for a project that was brilliant fun. All the best in your new endeavour.
This is what they had to say: