Is Your Web Copywriting Too “Professional?”

Some websites remind me of a used car salesperson.

No, they’re not sleazy, but the web copywriting is consultant-speak, written to impress.

A couple of decades ago, working in a retail financing operation, I got to know good salespeople in many businesses, from carpets to cars. They knew and used the techniques of leading the customer down the “road to the sale” and closing the deal.

The not-so-great sellers knew the techniques, too. Yet, they eventually moved on to other careers.

What was the difference?

The successful ones cared about their customers.

After talking with their potential buyers, they could tell you what kind of work the buyers did, where their kids went to school, and what their hobbies were.

They knew what problem the customer was trying to solve and what they feared about making the wrong decision.

On the other hand, the unsuccessful ones nattered on about their products and a great deal the customer could get if they only acted now.

I see the same dynamics play out on websites. Some of them show what the company does in simple language and give customers information about their solutions.

Others describe in bloated, convoluted, and often meaningless language how great they are.

What do Website Visitors Want?

People visit your website with two questions in mind. The first question is:

Do you have a solution to my problem?

One of the car sellers I knew closed a deal quickly with a few words. By talking with the customer, Debbie knew he probably had concerns about paying for a car.

She nailed it with two short sentences: “Let’s go over here. These cars are cheaper.”

The second question is:

Can I trust you?

Your web copy must be easy to understand.

You won’t gain trust with long paragraphs of techno-babble and lofty prose.

The more complex your message, the more you sound like a yacking used car seller.

You can answer both questions with straightforward language.

Try a technique I learned from Steve Slaunwhite and Annabel Candy at Copyblogger.

Steve is one of the most successful B2B writers in the business. When he does his web copywriting, he imagines talking with his prospect sitting across from him in a quiet room.

In a similar method, Annabel suggests writing as though you were talking with a friend over lunch.

Give it a try. Chances are you will write in short sentences and use simple words—the kind of language web users will want to read.

If you still find the writing hard, try speaking it into a recorder and transcribing it.

Whichever technique you use, you will learn that making a simple statement works far better than trying too hard to impress.

Contact me to talk about having a quiet conversation with your customer.

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