"Take a look at my website and tell me what I can do to make it better," a life coach called Beth asked me. "Everyone tells me it looks really professional."
I knew she had a reputation as an effective coach who was compassionate yet firm enough to help her clients get results in their lives so I was intrigued to see how she presented herself.
Beautiful! I thought when I looked at her site. Really beautiful!
But as soon as I read her home page content, my heart sank: I could not tell who her target market was, what made her different from dozens of other life coaches vying for the same clients, or why I should choose her.
True, the content was well written, but lacked the specific focus that would make her stand out from the crowd. It was the same general vagueness that I'd heard many times before. "I'll help you each your dreams." "I'll hold you accountable." "I'll get you unstuck," "I'll help you find your passion." It was no use to her in promoting her business; it was a waste of time and money; it sat there, taking up space and costing her monthly fees and maintenance. Sure it gives credibility to a business to have a website but what's the use if it doesn't serve you?
A famous copywriter, Claude Hopkins, once said that specifics sell and generalities roll off your prospects like water off a duck's back. I don't know a marketing person who doesn't agree with him. It's basic marketing wisdom.
When I looked more closely at Beth's business, I saw that she had a strong focus on career transition and in fact had a Master's degree in Psychology with an emphasis in Career Counseling. So we packaged her services into a 5-step program for women in transition and we put it front and center on her site. Now her site visitors know who she's speaking to and how she can help them.
That's why a great website begins with content that addresses the wants and problems of a specific target market. Otherwise it doesn't matter how beautiful the site is. Think about it. Do you want people to say: "Your site is beautiful," or do you want them to realize they need your services and call you for an appointment?
Hiring a copywriter to help refine your message can save you money - by helping you with content that sets you apart from the masses and gets your target market to sit up and take notice. And copywriters who are experienced in writing for the web, can guide you to the basics of what you really need from a web designer (Hint: just because the technology is there and you CAN use it, doesn't mean you should).
Copyright 2009 Maggie Dennison