Have you ever had this experience: You’re finally meeting an industry leader you’ve looked up and followed online for years, you know her biography, her latest business success, and her dog’s name? You’re over the moon to finally meet her and then she asks you what you do, and all of a sudden you’re completely and utterly speechless. You mumble something general, she politely replies, and you’re left ruminating on the exchange all night.
Sharing our expertise isn’t always easy, and for a lot of us, putting our life’s work into writing is even harder.
As millennial women, we are truly in an incredible era of opportunity when it comes to starting our own businesses. Stemming from a perfect storm of economic challenge, stagnating corporate wages, we’re realizing we can do better. Whether it’s with a weekend side-hustle or a leap into full-time entrepreneurship.
And luckily, there are more online business-building resources available than ever before, from software to blogs, to podcasts.
Discovering the passion for your new endeavor is the first step, and we all know you need a lot of grit and determination to realize your dream job. But once you’ve created something beautiful, sharing it with the world is the next step.
And it’s a tricky one for a lot of us. We love our business – it’s the baby that’s taken hours and hours of sweat and tears, and we’ve sunk our money and our love into it.
But from a young age, many of us have been taught the belief that bragging is wrong, and boasting is boorish.
How then to share our message with the world?
Heartfelt, honest copywriting to the rescue.
When you’re writing any & all marketing content, it’s called copywriting, and when it’s done well, it attracts the very people you want to serve and helps them hop on board with your vision.
Ultimately, all businesses need paying customers to, well, stay in business. And we’re all about creating profit around here.
So here are three overarching principles of great copywriting to keep in mind whenever you’re typing up brilliant messaging for your brand. And if you want to dig even deeper into a content brainstorm, download Marie Forleo’s Ultimate Guide to Generating Fresh Content Ideas! It includes 100+ writing prompts and will kick-start your content game.
1. Know Your Audience
Before you can write compelling copy for your business, you’ve got to get clear on WHO you’re writing for.
Now you might be tempted to picture an auditorium filled with all the people you hope will one day be your customers. Or you might be scrolling through your Instagram followers thinking of quips that will make all of them laugh. You might even be thinking of different segments of your current customer base – maybe you sell products to moms of young kids, as well as college students.
But the audience you’re writing to isn’t a group.
It’s not all your email subscribers, or all your Etsy shop visitors, or even your whole family.
When you write your website copy, you should be writing it for One. Single. Person.
Copywriters call this the Rule of One. Each piece of content you write should have one main reader, one main idea, and one call to action.
Good writing is focused writing.
Copy that packs a punch is written for your ideal client alone. Sometimes this is referred to as your ICP – ideal client profile, or client avatar. You could base yours on a real-life client you loved working with, or you could envision the exact kind of customer you hope to serve one day.
When you’re developing your client avatar, it’s not enough to use general demographics like vegan college graduate living on the West Coast. Go deeper and consider your ideal prospects’ needs, common pain points, and desires. What are their life goals? What irritates them the most?
Getting into the heart and mind of your clients is key to writing persuasive copy.
2. Empathize with Your Audience
All businesses exist to solve the customer’s pain.
Think about it – plumbers fix the pain of not being able to use your kitchen sink without flooding your cabinets. Lawn care businesses solve the problem of embarrassment at having the worst yard in the neighborhood. Bakeries solve the problem of not having time to create a perfect set of cupcakes for the class party. Life coaches solve the problem of feeling stuck while others flourish….
So if it’s not already obvious, take some time to think through the problems you’re solving for your clients. Not just the obvious ones, but the more in-depth, emotional pain.
For example, if you design websites, you’re not only solving the problem of business owners needing a functional website. You’re relieving the pain of feeling insecure about a less-than-stellar design and resolving the doubt about whether their DIY site was good enough. They’ve hired a professional so that they can rest with confidence that their website is indeed, beautiful.
Okay, now that you’re clear on the pain points you’re salving with your product or service offering, enter into those lousy feelings and address that pain in your writing.
Copywriters do this with a formula called PAS – pain, agitation, solution. You first mention the pain and remind them that things aren’t as great as they could be.
Then you agitate the pain a little bit.
Now, this part sounds super negative. But here’s the truth: it’s actually incredibly empowering for your readers. Well-written PAS copy is written with authentic empathy. And when you agitate your readers’ pain, you’re actually validating their experience.
Think about how good it feels when you vent to a friend, and they validate your feelings. It’s powerful, right?
You can be that friend to your readers.
3. Write for Your Audience
Every page on your website, every caption on your Instagram account, and every template email in your customer workflow should be written for your single ideal client.
Take your about page as an example: At first thought, you’d think it’s about you right? Your story, qualifications, passions—except it’s not.
First, shift the focus of the about page from you to your ideal clients. Yep, that’s right—even your about page is really about your readers. Highlight the ways you can serve your clients – the ways you help them solve the issues that have been keeping them up at night.
Then move into sharing your credibility—the credentials and experience that have made you the expert you are today. This section is more about you, but still about your readers, so make sure that you’re framing your credentials as the very things that make you able to serve clients best.
Finally, get a little personal and share some of your background and a few fun facts. Not only is it fun to share a bit of your personality, but it helps build a personal connection with – you guessed it—your ideal clients.
Guided by these three principles, you’re marketing content will be in a great position to attract your ideal audience and grow your business, without a poor sales speak.
Cheers to your new enterprise!
Anna Bradshaw is a copywriter specializing in helping creative entrepreneurs promote their businesses with confidence. In her free time, you'll find her curled up with a book, or strolling the beach, ice cream cone in hand. Anna lives in Orange County, CA with her husband of almost a year.
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