Looking to entangle business in your corner of the World Wide Web? Business blogger and columnist, JES MAGILL (webwriters.co.nz), is on hand to help ensure your words are worth their weight in gold.
I’m going to share with you what I explain to my clients when we start talking about creating or refreshing their website content. This helps people get their head around what’s required to ensure the most effective marketing tool their business has, their website, is primed for top performance.
Asking some clients to consider the wording for their websites is like asking them to speak in public. It’s right up there with one of the world’s number one fears, or being filmed or photographed, head-and-shoulders style. These are staged, awkward situations generally offer little pleasure for those involved. In situations like this, most people look like possums caught in the headlights and that’s not surprising because these are confronting situations. A photo is a snapshot in time, an image of your face, frozen, in an expression you probably don’t like, then you realise it will stay visible to many people for quite some time. That’s a common, uncomfortable thought right there.
So what’s this about? When we’re talking about written content, where does this reluctance or in some cases, fear to work with content, come from? I reckon it’s three things:
1. Some people think they can’t write to save themselves, or it might be because they think they can’t, they can’t. Either way I don’t mind because of course I do like to write. Most business owners need to release themselves from writing their own content, or asking someone on the team to do it, if it’s not their skill. Thanks to our Number 8 wire do-it-yourself ethos in New Zealand, some think they should do everything in their business but we know this isn’t best practice. Delegate what you can’t do or don’t like doing to someone skilled in a particular area.
2. Back to possums and headlights; a lot of business operators feel uncomfortable writing about themselves and their business in a self-promotional way. They don’t like to blow their own trumpet and often don’t enjoy anyone else blowing a trumpet for them. Most of us aren’t natural born sales people but when it comes to promoting our own business it’s important to get over the reluctance. Try and become more comfortable about promoting yourself or at least let someone else do it for you.
3. Then there’s the ‘content carved in stone’ fear. A lot think their website content is carved in rock and will forever stay solid in stony cyber space. Again, no. When people start to see their website more as an active business tool, they feel more relaxed about their online presence. They realise their digital story can be updated, that it evolves and reflects changes over time, and that’s when the magic happens. Think about your business as a living, breathing thing. A business ‘survives’ and ‘grows’ and a website is simply a visual and evolving record of that business and its achievements.
For copywriters, the reluctance and mental blocks that business operators have around the words for their website can be frustrating. It often means they relegate the task of sorting their new or updated content to the back-burner and when we’re talking about a dynamic marketing tool, that’s a big lost opportunity.
For these hesitant types, I try to remove the angst around the entire content writing process because telling the story of your business story should be an enjoyable experience. A business is an extension of its owner, an embodiment of what they’re about, a form of self-expression even, and that should come through when visitors come across your site.
So, my solution involves being in the right place at the right time with the right head space, a bottle of wine, pen and paper on hand and possibly a brainstorming buddy or two; whatever’s going to achieve what should be the best results.
Avoid trying to sort your website content at the office. There are too many distractions and too much busyness. Instead, at the end of the day or on the weekend, sit down when you’re feeling relaxed and preferably creative, and start thinking about and planning what you’d like featured on your site.
If you have an existing website, look at each page. See what no longer resonates and figure out what needs to go and what should stay. Record any new directions your business has taken, any new products or services you’ve introduced, and signal where you might want to take the business in the future.
The important thing is to get the ideas down on paper. You don’t need to write in full sentences, just use bullet points. Then it’s the copywriter’s job to pad out your bullet points and create the surrounding detail for your story. Think about photos too and the messages you want them to convey.
Website content needs to be brief, succinct and have impact. And you usually don’t need as much copy as you think. If you have a Frequently Asked Questions document for your customers, this usually provides great detail for content. Most people want to know the same things about your business, which makes selecting content easier.
If you don’t have a firm idea of how you’d like the site to look in terms of its architecture and theme (how the various pages look and the imagery), check out other sites and compile options that might give you inspiration for your own new-look site.
Lastly, some more advice if you’re still procrastinating: Just do it. It really is worth the effort. Then call me. This is your business story we’re talking about and your livelihood, so let’s make it as compelling and engaging as we possibly can.
More effective website content and a refreshed looking site really does give a business and its team a boost, and that’s always good for results.
Jes Magill from WebWriters – helping you create effective website copy to boost your business story.