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One of my readers, Selina, asked an excellent question last week. She asked:
“I’m wondering why you say to only write in the first person. I have seen other people say that it is better to write in the third person to convey a sense of professionalism. You suggest writing the homepage in the first person. Would this also apply to the about page, and the whole website?”
Firstly, great question, Selina. And I have very strong views on this subject.
I’m going to assume that because you’re reading this blog, you’re the kind of person who cares about the outcomes that you deliver for your clients. You want to help them overcome something (or many things) that’s bothering them and live a better life or have a better business.
You also want clients that you enjoy working with, so you need clients that genuinely like you, your work & your particular style of working. In other words, you need to feel (and have) a connection to the people who enquire about working with you; you need them to already be primed to work with you because they know, like & trust you.
Now that we’ve got that sorted… I most definitely do not recommend that you write your website in the third person.
Here’s why: your dream clients aren’t going to leap at the chance to work with you if you talk in the third person.
The third-person uses an objective narrator who tells the story without describing your thoughts, opinions, or feelings. It sounds like the story is happening to a distant, far-away person.
It’s very hard for your readers to feel a connection to you if you put a narrator in between you & them because they can’t get a sense of your thoughts, opinions, or feelings that define you as a business person.
And if your audience can’t get to know the real you through your website, then you’ll have a much harder time attracting the right clients for you.
Generally, third person copywriting is done by big, bland, corporate companies who are not known for caring about their customers.
Let’s take a look at Microsoft. The Microsoft Australia’s About Page starts with:
Established in 1985, Microsoft Australia is the Australian subsidiary of Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq “MSFT”), the worldwide leader in software, services, devices and solutions that help people and businesses realise their full potential.
Does that make you feel connected to or interested in Microsoft & their work? No.
Do you feel any loyalty to Microsoft? Probably not.
Are you excited to share their website with others? Definitely not.
Why? Because all they’re doing is talking about themselves, instead of showing you how their products can transform your life. They write about how awesome they are & how great their product is, instead of focusing on you & what they can do for you.
Think about it: when you visit a website, do you think about how your money will help the business increase its revenues & let the owner take more holidays? Of course not. You want to know how the store’s products & services can help you reach your goals & make your life better.
Your audience is on your website because they want you to solve their problems & improve their life. That means they need to feel like you actually understand their problems.
The fastest way make your audience feel like you understand them is to talk to them like a real person. That means not writing in the third person.
When you talk in the first or second person, instead of the third person, it allows you to focus on your audience & shows sensitivity & understanding of their needs & problems. And that helps you build a strong relationship with your audience that makes them feel understood.
And that feeling of understanding triggers an emotional response – it creates connection.
And connection creates loyalty.
And loyalty brings repeat customers.
Writing your website in the third person puts a barrier between you & your dream customers.
On the other hand, writing in the first or second person lets you build a genuine connection with them, show that you understand them & are able to solve their problems. If you want to be one of the lucky ones with dreamy clients that you love working with, it’s the best way to go.
Your business is built on the people you serve and the person you are.
You (hopefully) already know enough about yourself, but how well do you know the people that you aim to serve? How intricately do you know their needs, wants and absolute must-haves?
It’s a huge part of your entrepreneurship puzzle and lots of people haven’t spent the time learning about their dream clients. Yes, it can take some time to figure it out. But this time is an investment in your business that will pay off tenfold once you get it done and action what you learn.
When you have boat loads of information about your dream client, then you can write web copy that attracts her, post during times when she’ll see your content, create products and services that help solve her problems and so many other great things that this list may never end.
The goal is to get more information about them so that you can learn how to attract more people like them.
I’ve created this list to help get you started learning about your dream client. Everything listed here is free, fast and super effective.
Hang tight, this is a long + thorough post.
You know that super inspiring, dream woman that you’ve worked with in the past? Your favourite clients that you could work with over and over again?
There are probably links between all your past clients – characteristics, attitudes, goals, ambition, working style, communication style, willingness to invest in working with you.
Think back to working with these women and make a list of reasons why you enjoyed their company. These might be:
You’re most likely listing intangible things – things that you should feel when meeting with your dream clients. And that’s ok. You’ll learn more tangible things about them in the next steps.
Google Analytics is a free tool that can quickly and easily give you mountains of information about the people visiting your site. You can learn:
The trick is knowing how to use it without getting overwhelmed.
If you’re not yet confident using your Google Analytics, check out this Skillshare course: Master Google Analytics In 1 Hour for Beginners. I learned a lot from this course. I can now open Google Analytics without flipping out and understand what the information is telling me. Highly recommended. And you get a free month of membership if you use this link.
Surely there’s no easy way to find out more about your dream clients than to go straight to the source and ask them.
You have two options here: you can ask everyone on your mailing list some questions or you can target your favourite clients.
I’m going to assume that you’ll choose to target only your favourites, but the process is the same if you want to email everyone.
Start by writing out a list of your awesome clients – the ones that you could happily clone and work with over and over. The more, the merrier. Or, in this case, the longer the list, the more responses you’ll get.
Next, think of 6 or more questions that you’d like to ask them. These might be something like:
Once you’ve got your questions prepared, create an online form to gather answers from these questions. Google “free online form” and you’ll find lots of options.
Finally, email your favourite clients (or whole list), ask them to fill out your online questionnaire and provide a link to it. HINT: If you actually ask people to do you a favour – use the word “favour” in your subject line – it can boost your response rates for practically zero effort.
Traditional businesses and start ups often pay tens of thousands to some market research company to hold focus groups and send them some data about their findings. Poor schmucks.
We’re smarter than that. We know that we can do that on the cheap.
Let’s say that you’re a one-woman bakery and you sell mouth-watering cupcakes at your local farmers market. You could ask each buyer if they’d be willing to chat to you for a few minutes and in exchange, you’ll throw in an extra cupcake of their choice.
Have a few questions prepared, so that you get comparable information from everyone you talk to. You might ask:
The secret benefit to this approach is that you’ll get to have real conversations that build relationships with your buyers. Plus, you’ll get more memorable information than mere data.
Maybe, like me, your dream clients are other women entrepreneurs who do soul-charging, world-changing work. It’d be a safe bet that you can find thousands of these dream clients hanging out in Marie Forleo’s private B-School Facebook group.
There are groups and forums like this for every industry + every niche. You just need to go hunting to find them + join.
Once you’re in, listen to what members have to say and take note of their pain points – what are they finding difficult, what don’t they understand, what frustrates them, what keeps them up at night?
You’re in luck. Amazon is a secret hideaway for all sorts of copywriting gold + now I’m sharing that secret with you.
Amazon houses some amazingly in-depth book + product reviews written by everyday people. These people are essentially testing out the messaging attached to those books + products and letting you know their feedback.
They’ll tell you what they like, what the product doesn’t do and doesn’t achieve. If you’re lucky, they’ll even tell you what they wanted but didn’t get – and this is pure gold when it comes to creating messaging + positioning against your competitors. It’s basically a free test audience.
If you sell products, you’ll want to search for competitor products on Amazon + read their product reviews.
If you sell services, you’ll need to find authors that your dream clients follow + read their book reviews.
Look at multiple reviews for multiple products in your niche. (Looking at one review won’t give you enough information to really make a difference to your business messaging.) Seek out the reviews that others’ considered to be helpful – luckily, these are the ones displayed at the top of the reviews section.
What are the common themes in these reviews? What do most people want + aren’t getting? What needs are already being satisfied?
For example, maybe you’re a life coach who helps your clients transition out of boring corporate jobs + into self employment. Your dream clients probably read Pamela Slim’s book Escape from Cubicle Nation.
After reading through the reviews, you find this gem:
This review is written by a Top 500 reviewer and is considered helpful by 27 of 27 people. You can quickly see that these people want:
The reviewer is also very specific and detailed about the things that she doesn’t like about the book.
Lather, rinse, repeat. Look at multiple books and multiple reviews for each one to get a thorough look at your dream clients wants + needs.
Now you’re in an excellent place to start meeting your dream clients needs – including a better idea of how to phrase your offering to appeal to those needs.
There are 6 simple, but stellar ideas in this post.
Whether you implement one or all of them, you’ll be in a much better position to tailor your offerings & your message to those that you most want to work with.
Have you ever had a client relationship go bad?
(Every entrepreneur in the world raises their hand.)
Needless to say, you’re not alone.
When you’ve got an online business, it can sometimes feel even harder to make sure there’s no miscommunication because you’re mostly restricted to communicating via email.
You can’t exactly walk down the office corridor and ask a question if you’re stuck on your client’s project.
That means, you need to know how to write crystal clear emails that your client can’t possibly misunderstand – because misunderstandings go south way too quickly. And no one wants an unhappy client.
Good client emails help you stay on message, keep projects running smoothly & make your clients think you’re a brilliant investment. When that happens, it’s infinitely easier to get referrals to keep your client pipeline full too.
Here are my best tips on how to communicate with your clients via email.
It’s so easy to think that the things that come incredibly easy to you will also be clear and easy to your clients. But they’re definitely not as clear as you think.
Don’t assume that the client will know what such-and-such terminology means. Explain it to them. It helps them see you as a professional & builds trust in your expertise.
People who do done-for you services, like copywriters, designers & developers, can suffer from this one a lot. We can tend to assume that clients will inherently respect our expertise and never question us. But that’s rarely true.
Let me use myself as an example.
A little known fact about writing bullet points in your web copy is that the brain is trained to remember the first, second and last thing on the list. In other words, you want to have the most important bullet points at number 1, 2 and last position.
But if I do that for a client, will they automatically know that? Nope.
They may wonder why one of the most important bullet points is last on the list & ask me to move it to the top. (It would also be doing them a disservice to just “follow their orders” without explaining the value behind why I’ve done it that way in the first place.)
I could save a bunch of time by not assuming the client will inherently trust my professional expertise (and bullet ordering skills) & give her a reason to trust me. And that can be as simple as a quick note that explains where we want the most important ones to appear on the bullet points list.
This follows on from #1 above.
Don’t assume that they’ll understand why you did something in a particular way. Use the opportunity to demonstrate your expertise & clarify what you’ve done and why.
Pretend for a moment that you’ve just hired a web developer to help build your new website.
How would you feel if your developer changed something that you’d agreed on and just sent it to you with a quick email that said something like, “Here it is”?
You’d probably be confused about why it changed and potentially be a bit annoyed. “We already agreed on that, buddy! Why are you changing it?!”
Compare that with how you’d respond if the developer sent you an email like this:
I’ve been working on that XYZ that we agreed on, but I’ve found an alternative solution that may make it easier for you to maintain on your own.
If we do it that way we originally planned, it’ll look great visually, but you’d have to get me to make changes for you if you ever want to change it. That’s fine by me, but it would add to your ongoing website maintenance costs.
On the other hand, if we do it the way that I’ve demonstrated in the attachment, it’ll look a bit different than we had planned, but you’d be able to maintain it on your own. Changes would take you less than 2 minutes to make and you could make changes as often as you need.
Naturally, it’s up to you. But I strongly recommend we go with this new approach, especially since I know you want to be able to maintain the site on your own as much as possible.
Happy to hear your thoughts.
That kind of email builds a lot of respect for your expertise and helps get the client on board with your proposed approach. Plus, it shows that you respect her opinion, which clients love. It makes it feel like you and your client are on the same team.
If you’re ever thinking, “hmmm not sure what the client will think of this,” then take the time to explain your thought process. They’ll respect you for it & it’ll be much easier to bring them around to your point of view.
One of the biggest mistakes I see is that people send a client an email that simply says something like, “here’s that deliverable you paid me for.” And that’s all the email says.
Let’s imagine that you’re a graphic designer and you’ve delivered a client’s logo options via email. Don’t just write an email that says, “here’s your draft logo.” Take the opportunity to provide some clarity & map out the next steps.
So, what’s the next step for the client?
If they have to pick one version to move forward with, tell them that.
If they need to get their feedback to you by Friday, remind them of that.
If they get two more rounds of revisions, remind them of that too.
It’s incredibly hard to keep projects on track if you’re NOT constantly reminding your clients of the next steps. And the longer a project goes, the harder it is for you to start on & complete the next one.
You may have mapped out your process or your project milestones in other places, but you need to constantly remind the client of what they have to do & what’s next, every step of the way. They won’t remember what they read in those other documents after weeks have passed and the project has moved forward.
You’re a professional and that means you’ve got to take responsibility for your client projects. Even if you’re dealing with the most annoying client of your life, never point the finger at them.
It always ends badly.
You probably know from personal experience that when you’re struggling with someone and they blame you for it, you see red. It often ends in a battle of the wills:
“You think this is MY fault?! What about ABC that you did? You’re the one that screwed everything up”
“I did ABC because you did XYZ. None of this would’ve happened if you hadn’t screwed that up first!”
Ugh. What a total waste of time.
Be a professional and don’t try to lay the blame. Stay as neutral as possible. Graciousness goes a long way.
Following these tips also helps prevent you ending up in a situation where miscommunication has happened so frequently that it just feels like you & your client are adversaries because you aren’t on the same page anymore.
Here are 3 potential options for your draft logo. As you know from your client welcome pack, you get to pick one of these to move forward with and we’ll do 2 rounds of revisions to get it just right for you.
To keep the project on track for your launch date, your feedback is due on Friday. After that, I’ll have the second round of revisions back to you in 3 working days.
Great progress today. Congratulations on all the hard work you’ve put in to get to this point. You should be really proud of yourself.
As we just discussed, your focus areas to cover before our next session are:
We’ve got 2 more sessions left and you can book your remaining appointments using this link…
If you get stuck on anything between our sessions, you can always email me and I’ll talk you through it. You’re not alone.
I have a little secret that helps me keep my clients happy & keep my projects on track all at the same time.
It’s client email templates.
I have all my standard responses to the typical things that happen written up & saved in my canned responses in Gmail. So whenever something happens, I don’t have to faff about trying to figure out what to say. I just go to the template & edit it to suit the current situation – which takes soooo much stress out of the situation.
I have all of my email scripts available for you too if you want to implement the same approach & save yourself some hassle.
It’s a digital toolkit called, How Should I Say That?: 15 Email Scripts for Hassle-free Client Relationships & Keeping Projects on Track.