1. Be clear and concise
Education has wired some of us to think that more words = better. Sometimes they are. But the words have to mean something. They have to be an important piece of your agency's message. Otherwise it’s filler. So what do you cut to keep it concise?
- Remove redundant language
What is redundant language? Words that aren’t needed.
- At this point in time = now
- Connect together = connect
- Further than = beyond
- Language that isn’t needed = redundant language
Half way through writing your page, go back through and remove any redundant language. Do the same at the end. Get into the habit of doing this. Let go of sentences that are no longer needed.
Unless you’re targeting more formal, conservative industries use contractions like “we’re” instead of “we are” to make your copy more concise and relatable.
- Cool it with the Shakespearean English
You’re not selling yourself as a playwright. Keep it simple. We all have access to a thesaurus these days, so it’s not really impressing anyone except your slam poetry pals.
- Write in a way that’s easy for anyone to understand.
You’re writing for other humans. Cavemen in suits. Nourish their minds with a clear message. If you’re not sure how complex your words are, head to this free Hemingway app and it’ll show you where you're making the simple a struggle for readers.
2. Make it about them, not you
Don’t be a narcissist. Address your readers directly. Stop starting every sentence with Us, We or Our. Instead, appeal to readers with You or Your. You will benefit. You are important.
Think about how your agency is going to help potential clients. If you say “We’re the leading agency, our mission is to talk about how bloody great we are”, I don’t care, because it doesn’t solve any of my problems.
Practice reducing We from your website copy and you’ll learn how to make your point without it being about you.
3. Lead with the benefits
Sure, tell people what you do and how. But sell the benefit first, then the details.
Because clients don’t really want to read what you do, or about technical details that mean nothing to them. They might not understand the industry jargon, which is why they’re hiring you to get the job done.
Show how your services benefit the client first and foremost. Tell them what they get, not what you give.
For example, a video marketing agency might say:
Our team of talented video producers create all the high-quality video content you need, quickly and cost-effectively.
But to lead with the benefits would look more like:
Get high-quality video content, quickly and cost-effectively from a team of talented video producers.
It’s a subtle switch. But it puts the selling points first, and the talented team second. This is vital because potential clients won't always read to the end of your sentences. They scan, so put the Why upfront and the What and How after.
4. Write a persuasive value proposition
Think about what the biggest benefit is of working with you. Then tell your potential clients that they’ll get X and that results in Y. In the simplest way possible.
We’ve used this on our homepage:
Get... clarity & copy that...wins your agency clients.
Here’s a couple of ideas for the video marketing agency:
Get… video marketing that...gets you seen, shared and selling more.
Get… video marketing that...turns eyeballs into enquiries.
(Disclaimer: these were quick ideas, not hours of thinking, so lay off okay)
Many agencies struggle with this because they don’t know exactly what their single biggest benefit is. The easiest way to find it is to continually ask So what? Eventually you should get to a point where the proposition answers that question.
- Use the B2B value pyramid
The B2B value pyramid is a tool that identifies the 40 elements of value behind a B2B transaction. It’s ranked with the most persuasive factors at the top and objective factors at the bottom.
Most agencies focus on the functional objective elements (cost reduction, quality etc.), but often fail to use language that inspires the emotional and inspirational elements. Often because it’s not obvious.
Using the B2B value pyramid can help you identify a range of motivations for someone using your agency.
The purpose, productivity and relationship segments of the pyramid are particularly relevant for an agency. Elements like vision, time saving, less hassle, and expertise are likely big motivators.
As an exercise, you can pick all the elements that make sense to you, and write about how your business satisfies each one. Rank them in order of importance, and you’ll find your unique value proposition.
This is the most crucial piece of real estate on your website. Those first impressions mean everything. So it’s the ideal place to include your value proposition. A 2011 study showed visitors spend 80% of their time above the fold, and only 20% go beyond that.
Add an eye-catching image to complement your persuasive copy. There’s a bottomless pit of great examples you can find on Google.
5. Don’t try to please everyone, you can’t
A common fallacy is that appealing to everyone makes a product or service attractive to more people. But it comes across as too vague and general to be effective. It’s just not very believable that your product or service can fulfil everyone’s needs, so talk to those who need to hear your message the most.
Maybe you know how competent you are at delivering your services, but you fear alienating a section of your market. The problem is, you end up alienating your primary market by taking a generalist approach that appeals to no one. Do the market research so you know exactly who your prospects are. Focus your messaging directly at them.
For example, hiring a copywriter who’ll “design the page, photoshop the images, code, SEO, and will write about anything at the best possible price” might sound like great value. But they’re likely to be average or below in all of those areas rather than being exceptional in one or two. The same fundamental fact applies when conveying your message. Focus on who benefits from your services the most, because they are the people who want you.
6. Use confident language
We can help you get results if you spend money on our services.
The only guarantee in that sentence is you spending money. Not very appealing, is it? Potential clients want certainty before committing, so remove vague language from your agency’s website to inspire confidence in your services.
Instead of using modal words like can, maybe and could, state what you will achieve. Remove modal verbs that slay confidence, or replace them with firm, assertive language.
Even the word help can feel a bit indecisive. Make a statement and stand by it: Get results when you spend money on our services.
7. Set yourself apart from the competition
Let’s face it, there are agencies out there offering the same services as you. Writing a solid “why us?” section is one way to set your agency apart from the others. State your most prominent selling points as concisely as possible to attract potential clients to choose you. Don’t go overboard, limit this to around three clear reasons. The three biggest.
8. Hire a specialist who speaks your language
You probably don’t have time to supercharge your agency’s website messaging yourself. Good job there are specialists out there to take that arduous task off your hands. Just make sure you look for quality and not whoever will do it the cheapest. Because that’s an easy way to get more mess than messaging.
Okay, so wrapping up
Want great web copy without the hassle and headache? Can’t quite see the wood for the trees anymore? Tried writing it but sounds like your Year 11 school essay. That’s why you need external input from a team of agency copy specialists.