Copywriting for lead generation poses special challenges, especially in service businesses.
The truth is, prospects are scared. Could we even say … terrified?
And fear can be a powerful emotion. Most of us have at least one fear — spiders, heights, ladders, darkness, being ridiculed at a social event … the list goes on.
As a service business owner, you’re probably aware that your clients come to you with at least three major fears.
They have fears around the problem that motivates them to call you. Will they ever find a job they love? Will they be sued and see their life savings go down the drain? Will they find meaningful relationships?
They’re afraid you won’t be the best possible resource for them to solve their problem. Do you have the skills? Are you experienced? Is there someone better out there?
They’re afraid that you’ll be judgmental, difficult to work with, or the wrong personality fit: too frivolous? too serious?
And finally, they’re afraid your solution will require too much work.
One of the biggest challenges of creating an offer is to deliver everything the prospect needs — but not overwhelm them with how much they have to do. Buyers like to feel they’re lacing up their comfy sneakers, not cramming their feet into pointy stilettos (unless they’re buying pointy stilettos on purpose, which is a subject for another blog post). They want to anticipate that their purchase will make life easier, simpler and (dare we say it) more fun.
So one goal of copywriting is to overcome the client’s secret fear, “It’s too hard.”
But you also can’t promise magical transformations with a wave of the wand. And you can’t insult their intelligence by making it seem too easy.
Here are 3 ways you can use copywriting to overcome this objection and get more buyers to “yes.”
1 – Format your copy to create a sense of wide open spaces.
Artists talk about “negative space.” Graphic designers talk about “white space.” You can use lots of white space when you’re writing a sales letter, website or landing page.
Adding white space will make it easier to read your content. Long, text-y paragraphs give readers a headache, just looking at them. When they expend effort to read your copy, they subconsciously assume they’ll need to put forth even more effort to work with you or use your product.
When you come from a traditional writing background (as I have), you were probably taught to shudder at one-sentence paragraphs. Yet they actually work well in many online settings because you’ve created an area of white space.
And here’s a surprising tip: use a simple, sans-serif font.
In her book, What More Can I Say, Dianna Booher cites research showing that Arial font connotes simplicity. For instance, students reading an exercise routine with a script font estimate the exercise would take twice as long as those reading instructions in Arial. Similarly, estimates of time and skill needed to bake a cake were related to type face used to share a recipe.
Similarly, trained copywriters will advise you to avoid using italics for more than a phrase or two, whether you’re writing a website, sales letter or blog post. They’ll also advise you to use dark type on a light background. Effortful reading makes your audience feel tired — a feeling they’ll come to associate with your services.
2 – Deliver instructions as a series of steps.
Break down the process to each step seems straightforward and easy. The process will seem more manageable than instructions delivered via blocks of text or complicated diagrams. You can number the steps, accompany them with illustrations, and break them down as small as they go.
Setting up steps means you’re engaging in copywriting. Steps will seem approachable when you begin with short sentence, leading with a verb. Follow up with a clarification and then perhaps an example. Often when you revise your instructions to create steps, and revise each step to begin with a verb, you’ll get clearer on what you offer. You may realize you need to go back and revise your own process.
Test your steps. Ask someone who’s unfamiliar with your process, “Can you follow what’s going on? Do the steps seem do-able?”
3 – Tell a story to illustrate someone going through your program.
Stories accomplish several goals. They clarify the process so prospects understand what they can expect. They provide social proof; your client thinks, “If he can do it, so can I.” They make the process seem real, vivid and memorable. and alleviate your prospects’ strongest fears.
Ideally you will tell a story about a client who went through the process, not about you. Set up the story so your client will visualize herself at each stage. Choose a “hero” for your story who will be relatable to your clients — someone who’s not a superstar, beyond their level, but also someone who’s not stupid.
Ideally, you can illustrate each step of the process with a portion of the story. For instance, let’s say you’re illustrating the way you help someone implement a website makeover.
Step 1: Decide your goal for your website.
Example: “Clarence was a financial planner. He preferred to work with clients who wanted to create more wealth, rather than those who needed a budget and savings plan. Yet his current website attracted low-end clients, who were mostly broke. Telling people to tear up their credit cards wasn’t how Clarence wanted to spend his days. So he needed a website makeover to attract the clients he hoped to work with.”
Step 2: Identify the top three concerns of your ideal clients.
Example: “Clarence’s ideal clients had accumulated considerable wealth. They had achieved a comfortable lifestyle. They were concerned, first, that they weren’t getting the highest return on their portfolios. They were concerned that they would be able to send their children to college. And, finally, they wanted to make sure they could retire comfortably and be sure their wishes would be followed after they died.”
And so on.
Stories help your prospect realize, “Other people did this. Probably I can too.”
If you’d like to work with me on creating more user-friendly copy, let’s set up a call! One of the most inefficient, time-consuming ways to create content is to follow the “lone ranger” mode. It means staying up late, wondering if the copy’s done or you need to tweak more. It means working on content yet not generating leads. And sometimes it means finding the best story to tell (and the best way to share it). Go here to see my consulting options and take the first step.