Get the gist of what you do up front
The world has changed.
So, prioritze the critical part of your message and leave the details for secondary pages or further down.
The world has changed.
So, prioritze the critical part of your message and leave the details for secondary pages or further down.
“Where we had thought to travel outwards we shall come to the centre of our own existence”. (Joseph Campbell)
Admiring my (main) man drawer this week I came across a stash of elastic bands which I knew would come in useful one day………….
Anybody who needs to achieve anything beyond passive consumption is gonna experience a gap in their lives.
This might be a frustrating gap with thoughts like ‘why do people not get what we’re trying to do? Why do they pass through my offer and not take me up on it?’
Martin Luther King lived it in the public view, Peter Senge wrote about it and called it ….
Take one elastic band, stretch it between your left and right hands – picture your left hand as where you are now and your right as your vision. Really do it and you won’t forget.
Now here’s the interesting thing and saving grace: that gap, left and right, vision and current reality, creates an energy or tension that seeks to bring them together (feel it).
You can see where this is going. You can use that energy to bring your vision back to your current reality or you can move your current reality towards your vision.
What happens will depend on how strong the vision is.
With recognition of the current reality.
It’s a waste to move forward and leave good stuff behind and it’s ineffective to dilute the vision with unwanted remnants of the past.
Some people get very uncomfortable and defensive at this stage, some people don’t want to let go at all.
Some people want to rush forward so quickly they leave diamonds behind.
However you’re moving forward it’s gonna be uncomfortable. A bit put-offable. That’s a bit of creative energy bubbling up.
Somerset Maugham hit the nail on the head when he said, “only mediocre people are always at their best”.
ACTION. Don’t hang about, put on your sunglasses, pretend you’re somebody else (the man on the Clapham omnibus), and have a really good incognito shufty at your current content. Knowing your starting point is important.
Mike Odlin – Freelance Copywriter – for a bit of help with that.
(because I help a few good people craft a vision to pull the current reality ….. forwards.)
To start a buying process you have to pull the trigger.
Most writers with half a brain make the assumption that their stuff will get read from beginning to end.
If that’s you, then it’s time for a rethink.
Most search and research is about saving time, getting a short cut to something – like ‘the quickest way to do this’ or ‘how to stop worrying about the content on your website and get on with running your business’.
So, for a visitor, it doesn’t make sense to slow up to read acres of stuff – it’s defeating the object of saving time.
It’s a bit of a game – see if you can convince me to stay before I hit the accelerator – type of thing.
You can think of your page visitors as sharks.
Sharks have to keep moving to keep oxygen-rich water flowing over their gills or they die. The only way to keep them circling is to let them smell blood, fast.
That means up front, big bloody clues, that they’re in the right place – clues like i.e. other people saying you do a great job.
If you want them to keep circling your stuff then give them blood, quickly.
(or they’ll be gone and you won’t even know you had a visitor)
When you go to a concert, you look at the stage and you focus on the performer. It’s why you go there.
The stage helps you understand very quickly what the important bit of the experience is. Unless you’re odd, it draws your attention away from the fire exits and electrical fittings.
Your website content titles, headings, sub headings & formatting all help visitors to understand where they are in the process.
Have you got one?
Are you acting as an editor for the experience of your viewers?
has the content just been poured in, like jelly going into a mould?
If everything looks equally important, you make it harder for people to get to the decision point you want.
A clear visual hierarchy will point your customers in the right direction.
Halving is useful
if you’re at the end of the first draft. It’ll help you choose between stuff you flirt with and stuff you can’t live without.
Halving is essential
if you have unedited content on your website. It’ll give the useful stuff a chance to breathe and make it more prominent.
Krugs Third Law of Usability
“Great ideas need landing gear as well as wings.”
That’s from – C. Jackson.
This means making sure that the writing through your website creates an irresistible momentum, a slide, towards your …
Let them know when they’ve arrived.
Example: you are 1 email away from sorting your content out..
other words to use could be: sign up | buy now | register | contact me | book a session now
No amount of likes, hearts, shares or even traffic will pay the bills unless it results in some change of behaviour or purchase.
The money and effort you spend on traffic or social always leads somewhere. If the point of arrival is weak there’s no point shouting about it. There’s no point chucking more and more cash and time at the machine hoping the money shower will improve things – it doesn’t.
Here’s a good way to know if you have a problem:
If you’re a bit embarassed by the content on your website, because it doesn’t really reflect how good you are, then that’s telling you something.
(It’s always darkest before the dawn)
If you’ve been in business 18 months or more and haven’t reviewed or rewritten your website content you’re probably leaving money on the table by now, (that should be in your pocket).
When your words don’t keep up with your product and service it’s hard for your customers to know who they’re dealing with.
If what you’re telling them was written 3 years ago don’t be surprised if they’re not knocking on your door for today’s offer – they just don’t know about it.
Sometimes your content just gets neglected – it did a reasonable job at the time sort of thing and sometimes your business takes a strategic turn at the lights and your content carries on plodding down the same old road……
The effect of both of these is the same – a mismatch and misunderstanding of what you’re all about.
The Quiet Killer
Any mismatch or misunderstanding is a conversion killer – it doesn’t help you attract new customers and close deals.
Whether you’re a vet, a dentist, a tree surgeon, a solicitor or an accountant this is a rule:
when something doesn’t add up we walk.
Now, mismatches and misunderstandings are common and easy to sort out – but, if you ignore them, you could miss the sort of business you want to attract.
If you don’t get how predictably and consistently the brain reacts to what’s put before it (like those mismatches) your customer could be walking in the front door, saying nothing, turning round and leaving. And, you might not even realise you had a visitor!
Update + Refocus Your Website Content = Customer Optimization
When you update and re-focus the words you use to describe your current business (not the business of 3 years ago) your ideal customer gets closer.
It’s common sense really.
Talk: 0 7 8 9 9 9 8 3 0 7 3
Type: mike at wordraising dot co dot uk
This is the story of the trim tab.
Imagine a giant oil tanker ploughing through the ocean.
To get the tanker to change direction you need to move the enormous rudder on the back of that ship. To move that big rudder, even slightly, you need a lot of force – the push of water is fighting against you all the way.
That’s really hard, energy wasting, work.
Because rudders and ships got bigger and bigger some clever engineers built into the big rudder something called the trim tab.
It’s like a miniature rudder on the big rudder.
It’s much less effort to move the little one than the big one.
Something clever happens when you start to move the small trim tab in one direction: the drag in the water causes the big rudder to move in the opposite direction.
This steers the ship in the direction you want to go.
The water does the work, not you.
You use the element (water) so that (little rudder) steers (big rudder) – (big rudder) steers (ship).
‘Stories’ pull us into streams of thought without us feeling like we’re doing much hard work.
Stories, metaphors and analogies can persuade us to change our direction because they don’t meet resistance from the conscious mind – because they don’t ‘threaten’ us in the same way as somebody giving us a, full on, full frontal, sales pitch threatens us.
(Selling to the conscious mind is like trying to push the big old rudder against the power of the ocean – you meet a lot of resistance).
Stories have been used at the bedside and before sleep for as long as we can remember because they help us to lower our guard, to let go.
Stories (like the little trim tab) pull your reader round with less resistance than if you try to push the main decision-making rudder directly.
This is because when you hear a story you fire up the stream of your own imagination, you fill in the cracks and bridge all the gaps that you need to.
As soon as I tell you that the Prince found himself in a sun filled clearing in the middle of the dark dark wood you create a mental picture of that Prince and that clearing that is yours – I can’t see it.
And, stepping in to this stream feels like a free personal choice – you’re making the pictures in your own head (that nobody else can see).
If you’ve ever made something with your own hands you know how much more you value it and love it than something you get off the shelf.
The same happens when you start to complete the story you’re told in your head.
You value the pictures that you create in your head in the same way you feel chuffed looking at your self-assembled Ikea bookshelf. You own it in the full sense of the word.
If a story or metaphor is used to help you reconsider something or try something new then there’s a better chance that behaviour change will result.
Because it’s hard not to own and support what’s going on in your own head.
So, the principle is this:
(social media distraction) (from the wordraising newsletter – apply here)
“Yeh I know my business is in a nosedive and the ground is looming up at me but I just got 4 more views and that Richard Branson quotey picture thing just got hearted.
It’s gonna be fine.”
It’s a bit like that story with the rabbi and the chickens …..
…. of the bloke who goes to see the rabbi because he lives in just one small room with his wife and 3 children:
‘I can’t stand it’ he cries. ‘What can I do‘?
‘Get a dog‘ the rabbi answers
He does, the dog barks at the children and messes on the floor and wall.
Back he goes to the rabbi, moaning..
Rabbi: ‘Get some hens‘
The dog chases the hens in circles, the baby worries about the hens, mum worries about the baby…
Back to the rabbi wailing..
‘Get a goat‘
it went on ….
‘Get a horse‘
All bolting round the same room
Back to the rabbi wailing, desperate .. ‘it’s impossible, I can’t do it‘
Rabbi: ‘Get rid of all of them and then come back and tell me how you feel‘
3 days later
Man to rabbi (gratefully): ‘It’s wonderful ….. there’s just me, the wife, and the kids and we have the whole room to ourselves”
ps you don’t have to be in a nosedive to ask for help
pps but you might have enough aerodynamic savvy to know when something’s likely to stall
In 1935 the United States Steel Corporation was fortunate to find the services of a talented communicator. He changed how USSC was seen and dealt with. He did it by re-shaping the story of what business USSC were really in ….. he helped find the secret business …
Summary: When you need change, repetition doesn’t work.
TRUE STORY: It’s a warm dry day, on the way to a Pembrokeshire beach with my partner. I’m in the passenger seat, wedged in pretty tightly from the waist down with baskets, books, bananas, water, towels – prepared for everything – apart from movement of any sort.
She’s just started making body butter, oils – all sorts of potions, which now come everywhere with us. As the official (non-negotiable) test pilot for these concoctions I was handed a jar of moisturiser with the ‘you should know the routine by now’ look.
Now here’s the interesting thing that happened:
After glossing me bonce with this wonder paste I dipped into the jar, reached down to do my legs but couldn’t get to them because of all the stuff.
So, and I’m clearly on auto pilot now, I smeared another lot on my head.
Still on auto pilot, and with a body memory (fear) telling me this procedure should be taking longer than I’ve allocated to it (and a partner fishing for body butter compliments), I dipped into the pot again.
I reached down for my legs, hit the barrier of baskets and stuff and so went for the easy option – I gave my head a third smearing.
Yeh, it was a hot day.
What was going on here?
What was going on here that turned Mr Vaguely Rational into the white bonced clown? I’ll tell ya, (with hindsight and a bit of distance).
This is an automatic passive behaviour response, which we’re all tempted by, because they’re easier – they follow the line of least resistance.
Repeated passive patterns or the line of least resistance are like the warm water poured into hard jelly experiments of Edward de Bono.
The first warm water you pour onto cold jelly creates a channel and often a bit of a hole. The next time you pour on water it heads for the channel that’s already there and makes the same hole a bit deeper.
That effect gets repeated.
So, what you get is a deeper and deeper hole in the same place.
Now, sometimes a habit or culture of doing the same things in the same way works for you. Sometimes it doesn’t.
When your business model changes you have to be particularly careful….
There’s a good chance your business model and product has grown, improved and developed over the last 3 years. That’s good.
If what you’re telling the world about it on your website hasn’t grown too (i.e you’re leaving lukewarm water sitting in the old channels and hole) then there’s a very good chance you’re missing a trick.
At the best you’re leaving money on the table because your old customers have lost touch with what you really do now and so can never be drawn towards it.
At worst you’re confusing your new customers because what you say you do on your website and where they see your business going are 2 different things. That’s confusion.
It’s easily done – if you’ve never updated your content it can seem like a barrier (a bit like the baskets and stuff) and so you do the same old things that you’ve gotten comfortable with instead (the jelly hole getting deeper in the same place).
It is easily done.
It’s slowly toxic for your business.
That sounds a bit hard core but it’s not dry skin at stake, it’s your business and personal life.
If, having read this, you realise you’ve been putting it off & now want to review your copy or talk about a strategic rewrite get in touch
It’s as wasteful to over-do the advertising (‘Yeh I got it, thanks for flagging that up, when I’m ready I’ll buy from you, provided you turn down the volume NOW’ ) as it is to under-do it (‘I had no idea you were even there’)
is a useful way of thinking about how often people need to see your stuff before they do something.
It helps you dial up or dial down the amount of exposure you give people to your stuff.
People disagree on the numbers but agree that conversion through exposure is a process.
To help you become more aware in your own business comms here’s an intro to 1 model.
In 1965 a man called Herbert E. Krugman wrote ‘The Impact of Television Advertising: Learning Without Involvement’ Public Opinion 29: 349-356.6.
In it he laid out his own 3 stage model of what’s going on.
He kept it at 3 because he believed that there was no such thing as a fourth exposure psychologically. He said that fours, fives, etc., are repeats of the effect of the third exposure.
Knowing this is important because it positions advertising as very powerful, but only when the viewer is actually interested in what you’re selling, other wise nothing registers at the what’s in it for me stage.
And secondly it positions the viewer or potential client of yours as reacting to the commercial very quickly ….. when the proper or right time comes around.
Now there’s a myth that viewers will forget your message if you don’t repeat it enough – and you can imagine who has a vested interest in selling that idea…..
Krugman observed that we put stuff out of our minds until we are ready, until what we’ve seen and heard has some practical value for us.
So, this idea of effective frequency is good to know if:
For now, you can put this knowledge out of your mind until the time is right
it positions the viewer as…reacting to the commercial—very quickly…when the proper time comes round.
“We go home in Persian ships, or we die”.
(Alexander the Great. 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC)
When Alexander the Great faced the Persian army he was outnumbered, massively. To focus minds on victory he gave the order to burn his own ships on the beach. That meant there was no going back – no place to run but forwards, to the fight.
A new direction or a new market for your stuff always pulls your eyes forwards.
Do you think you can switch from ‘LOOKING’ forward to ‘MOVING’ forward (doing something about it) and still hang on to your old website content???
Or, do you think it ties you to the past?
What are you going to burn?
BURN THE BOATS
content optimization – a business-development reality check
Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson went on a camping trip.
After a good camp fire meal and a bottle of wine, they retire to their tent for the night.
At about 3 AM, Holmes nudges Watson and says, “Watson, look up into the sky and tell me what you see?”
Watson replies, “I see millions of stars.”
Holmes asks, “And, what does that tell you?”
Watson replies, “Well now,… astronomically, it tells me there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, it tells me that Saturn is in Leo. Theologically, it tells me that God is great and we are small and insignificant. Horologically, it tells me that it’s about 3 AM. Meteorologically, it tells me that tomorrow will be a scorcher. What does it tell you, Holmes?”
“My dear friend”, Holmes replies, “it tells me that …….
Someone has stolen our tent.”
Now the next time you get fired up by a blog on A/B testing your meta tags on your 200 monthly visitors or the place of H1 or H2 in the penguin, poodle or parrot algorithm or how to drive a million visitors to your site for just $300 dollars a month put down the chequebook, step away from the pay now button and look in the full length mirror.
Have you got lettuce stuck between your teeth? Is your flies undone? Are you wearing odd socks?
This is what’s going to make the first and lasting impression.
Tackle that thing that will decide, (whether you like it or not), whether you sell something or not.
That thing? Your copy. The words you use.
Coming across as a credible business is massively dependent on the words you use to describe what you’re up to.
Weak words = Weak sales. Repeat. Weak words = Weak sales
Shiny, fancy website but a rambly, confused message? Uh oh, doesn’t add up, ditch, one less to deal with. Telling the world about your ‘passion’? Uh oh, you’re sending everyone to sleep (apart from your mum), ditch, one less to deal with. Making me sort through a pile of words to find what I want? Can’t be…xxd.
And what the smart cookies count on are these rows of cannon fodder – the companies that don’t get it. The smart cookies benefit massively from the comparison. They love this sort of competition.
We convince ourselves that we’ve done some thorough market research, our job is done, we’ve arrived (pat ourselves on the back), we trust, we buy.
There are no runners up in this race and there’s only one question. Do you want to be providing the comparison fodder or do you want to be the final destination?
Can you honestly say you’ve got your premiere league words playing for you? Or, are they the second divisioners you’ve cobbled together with a few mates with the promise of a few transfers later in the season?
When you can go about your daily business 24/7 knowing that the premiere squad is hard at it for you, when you can say that you’d put your showcase before anyone in the world that’s the time to put your showcase before anyone in the world.
Then drive the traffic, then get techie.
Do it the wrong way round and you’re putting a pig on stage in the Albert Hall.
I can help if you ask me.
I’m head of the department of the bleedin’ obvious (right next door to Tents).
Summary: Improve your product bit by bit, continuously to leave your competition standing.
Once you decide on your occupation… you must immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with your work. Never complain about your job. You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill.
That’s the secret of success... and is the key to being regarded honourably.”
(Jiro Ono 小野 二郎 born 27 October 1925)
If you run your own business, if you freelance, if you and only you are responsible for making sure there is bread on the table this is a lesson.
Before you think about another way to deliver whatever it is you deliver, step back.
Before you waste another minute of your life trying to fancy something up without looking deeply at what that something actually needs to do for your customers, step back.
A 3 star restaurant with a 1 month waiting list, a minimum £200 order and no toilet.
Inspiring and sobering – it’s worth an hour of your time to find & watch the full movie if you want to learn what focus means.
If you’re interested in your business content getting heard
I suggest you have a shufty at this:
It asks some interesting questions transferable to business :
“Who is going to point out that it reads badly if it sounds clever?”
(I’d say, not your competitors)
It makes some interesting points:
“Although it often unfortunately does, academic should never mean ‘difficult to understand’.”
(It’s not much of a jump to my take on it that complex business offers, ideas and processes, should never mean difficult to understand)
The same rules apply to business and academic communication. The difference is that it’s not your grade, it’s your livelihood at stake.
The article talks about the use of ‘Jargon’ to mask confusion or dress up simplicity . . many business lessons in here . . this bit’s bang on:
“In academia, it seems that when we have nothing much to say we attempt to distract attention from that sad fact by saying it as pretentiously and at as much length as possible.”
(I’d say, if you’re unsure of your value proposition, that difference that your product will make to people’s lives, then you need to pause and step back.
Fudging it with pseudo management speak gets you stuck in the bin with all the fudgy pseudo management speakers – people don’t buy this stuff any more).
94% of B2B buyers say they conduct some form of online research before purchasing a business product and 83% of buyers visit vendor websites directly to find information (Acquity Group, 2015 ‘Next Generation of Commerce’ Study) …..
ps take a look at this
Talk: 0 7 8 9 9 9 8 3 0 7 3
Type: mike at wordraising dot co dot uk
“ The ability to change does not guarantee that the changes made will lead to success.”
(W. Timothy Gallwey)
There’s a lot of ‘change’ about. Businesses re-clothing themselves. Digitally.
It’s a doddle, just hand over a few grand and you’ll have a facelift in a fortnight. That’s mobility.
“Mobility gives us the ability to move, not the reason.”
It’s tempting because it feels like progress. It feels like freedom. It feels like success. On it’s own, it’s not.
Progress is about interrogating your reason for being in business.
BIG QUESTION: What are you actually trying to change in the world? What are you actually trying to change in your world? (That’s reason).
Most people go into business because they’re good at something and feel they have an edge.
Not long down that road and they’re doing everything in their power and buying everything they can to look like everybody else on the rack.
Your real picture, not the one the picture salesman wants to sell you, is the spark that leads to fire that leads to warmth.
That leads to business.
As a customer I run a mile from AA powered LEDs. I want spark.
What are you, uniquely you, trying to change in the world?
Reason and mobility.
That’s because in my experience of managing content-strategy projects a lot of time gets devoted to shepherding business owners to the decision point.
There are lots of reasons why your business is not moving forward as fast as you like.
Is information bias one of them?
Information Bias slows personal development and causes you to miss business opportunity.
It’s the tendency to seek more and more information.
It’s the belief that more and more information = better decision making, even if the extra information is actually irrelevant.
Mr Godin once said:
“You don’t need more time … …you just need to decide”.
Seth Godin, Born July 10, 1960 (age 55), Mount Vernon, New York, United States.
Are you dragging a business decision through the treacle of more and more information instead of signing it off?