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.
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.
In January I launched Ignite, a new service that turns an idea into a business. While it was initially aimed at people just starting up their business, it quickly became apparent that it was also hugely appealing to existing business owners who needed a business refresh.
Many of us when setting up a business decide on a name, logo, website and direction pretty quickly. But as we start working with clients, things change. Our services adapt to what our clients want. We fall out of love with some bits and want to refocus on others. Sometimes that means a new name, a new logo, new packages or services and it almost certainly means a new website is needed.
One such client was Cynthia Sillars. She is a natural health practitioner. Before going through the Ignite process, Cynthia felt her branding and website were dated. She no longer offered some of her services and wanted to add new ones. But she couldn't alter her website because of the way it had been created. You can see her old site here.
It was time for a fresh start.
We started with a strategy call to get really clear on what Cynthia was offering, who she was offering it to, how she helped her clients and the best way to reflect what it was she did as it's fairly complex and difficult to explain. Here's what we got clear on:
Speaking to Cynthia, one thing became clear - her belief in the healing power of nature. In one of those weird synchronicity moments, I said to Cynthia that to me she takes her clients on a journey. Her imagery should be around a path, walking outdoors, going on a journey into nature. And she replied that those were the exact images she had already pinned to her Pinterest board. Spooky.
In another slightly surreal moment, I mocked up a logo which I thought reflected Cynthia, despite never having met her face to face. When I asked her what type of logo she was thinking of, she said she'd like something that looked like her handwriting. She then sent me a scan of her handwriting. It was an almost identical match to the font I'd selected for her logo.
We had the basics in place. While I began work on her web copy, my designer Meg created a logo and brand palette.
Writing the copy was another challenge. Cynthia offers a broad range of services, many of which are exceptionally complex to explain. They also had to be written about in a way that would appeal to her clients, many of whom don't need to know how they will have their health problems fixed, they just want them fixed. This was a case of cutting back. Less is more.
With copy, imagery, fonts and branding in place, Meg set about creating the website. Cynthia wanted something simple that she could change and adapt as she needed to, including adding blog posts. We advised her to create a free opt in to build up her email list. We gave her pointers on what it should cover, suggested title names and set up her Mailchimp account so that she could start to build an email list.
Meg also designed her Facebook header, her Mailchimp newsletter template and branded up her free opt in ebook. Finally Cynthia received her Next Steps guide and marketing plan template so that she could crack on with marketing her business.
We've both been on hand throughout the process to answer any of Cynthia's questions. In just 30 days, her website went from this:
You can see the website here. We have advised Cynthia to get her own photographs taken that reflect each of her service sectors - the path, the journey, the view - which she will be doing down the line. For now though, she has a beautiful looking website that captures what she does for clients without being overly medical, overly complicated or too wordy.
This is what Cynthia had to say about the process: “I had been searching around for ages to find a web designer, one who was affordable and who could help me get through my problem, which is that I’m over methodical.
Each of them had something to offer, but in the final analysis, when it came to the copy, they said ‘That’s your bit – you write it’.
A chance meeting with a colleague after Christmas put me in touch with Melissa. I knew straight away that she could do the bit I couldn’t, plus Meg could do all the web design.
Job sorted, it was an intensive 14 days of putting the copy together in a way that truly expressed what I do, but in a way that would make it entirely accessible to everyone.
Then on to the web site, learning how to use the back of the site (so easy!) putting together Mailchimp, tying in the Facebook page, and setting up the fonts on my computer so I can maintain ‘brand’.
I’ve been in practice a long time, but the start-up package called Ignite, with it’s one stop shop approach, was perfect for me because I’m busy and needed to get the job finished in the quickest possible time.
Thank you Melissa and Meg, you were both so helpful."
Would you like to transform your business? The Ignite package is no longer available, but with the Clarity, Copy & Canvas packages, you can go through a similar transformation for your business.