When you sit down to write something about your business, do you think about what you want to say or what your customer wants to know?
When I ask this question in person, l I usually witness an 'a-ha' moment as the person in front of me realizes:
a) These are two different things
b) They've only ever thought about the first one
One of the most powerful things you can do in your written materials - and on your website especially - is talk TO YOUR CUSTOMERS, instead of ABOUT YOURSELF.
Here's how to do that.
1. Get clear on who your customer is
Before you can talk to your customer, you need to know who they are so you can tailor your messaging and tone to them. Since most of us have a wide variety of people buying from us, it's best to focus in on your ideal customer - this is the person you get really excited about working with or selling to.
People are often tempted to cast a wide net when they do this but, in fact, you should be as specific as possible. It doesn't mean you won't attract people who don't fit this exact bill - you will. It just means you're setting yourself up to attract more ideal customers.
2. Establish a connection
Here's a little secret: people don't come to a website (or read a direct mail piece, etc) to learn every last thing about the person and/or company. They care about you MUCH less than you might think, actually.
So what ARE they looking for? Above all else, they want confirmation that you understand their need/want/concern/challenge - and that you can help.
So, when you're writing, it's really important to recognize and acknowledge them and their need/want. Do this at the top of your About page, and wherever else it makes sense on your site (remember, people don't read websites in a linear way, or necessarily start out on the homepage).
Basically you want them thinking "YES, SHE GETS ME/IT!" right off the bat. Once you've established this connection, you re-assure them, tell them you can help and then get into the details about yourself and your biz.
A few examples:
A word of warning: Many people attempt to do this by asking questions. It can work well, but usually sounds infomercial-y as opposed to genuine and, ends up working against you. Use statements if you can.
3. Talk about what they get, as opposed to what you provide
Another thing you can do in your writing is speak directly about what your customer gets and less about how you provide it. This is a subtle but very powerful shift that I talked about a while back here.
For some businesses - service-based ones especially - this can be tough. Don't feel you need to eliminate all the 'I provides', but keep them to a minimum, and make sure you've first established that connection as outlined in #2.
So there you have it. Can you think of ways to make your existing messaging more customer-focused? If so, there's a piece of low-hanging fruit you can address to improve your messaging. Get to it! ;)
Janet Nielsen is a communicator with a passion for helping small businesses succeed.