Four Common Mistakes Businesses Make with Their Web Copy

by Michelle Salater on October 12, 2009

1) Is your website too self-centered?

“We’re so great at this, so great at that. Want to see all the awards we’ve won? No? Well we’re going to tell you about them anyway.” This might seem over-the-top, but too many business websites do just this. I’m sure businesses that do this haven’t stopped caring about the prospective customers and started caring only about how they look to others—it’s human nature to want to showcase strengths and people are attracted to it—but it won’t work on a website.

The key to influencing your market and attracting clients is all in how your website copy speaks to your customers and how it illustrates your company’s goals, values, and, obviously, products and services. Your web copy should work to build relationships with your prospective customers and illustrate a transparent business message.

2) Do prospects understand what services / products you offer?

How many times have you stumbled across a website that describes its services / products and you have no clue what they’re talking about? While many businesses have the intention of trying to stand out and be completely unique from the competition, all they end up doing is stringing together a bunch of fancy words that have no meaning. It’s nearly impossible to express your uniqueness when you say that your “creative services are unique.” (What does that even mean?)

The key is not about saying you’re different from the competition, but rather, it’s about showing your prospective clients that you offer something different from the competition. This is expressed in a clear, result-driven brand message. When you become clear on your brand message, your target audience becomes clear on what you sell.

3) Do you even know what products / services you offer and to whom?

You may think you know what products / services you offer, but how clear are you? Businesses evolve. Services change. And so does the market. Often, what happens is companies add information to their website over a period of time. The result is a smorgasbord of information that can easily confuse prospects.

If you aren’t specific about the product / services you offer and how they benefit your target market, it is extremely difficult for you to convert prospects into customers. Similarly, if you don’t follow shifting markets, how can you expect to sell products to a customer you no longer know?

4) Are you speaking “Greek” to your prospects?

Your business is unique, and this uniqueness sets it apart from the competition. But, there’s a difference between expressing that uniqueness in industry terms, and illustrating it in layman terms. You understand the industry jargon, but do your prospective customers? Probably not, which is why you need to understand who your target market is and how your brand message and language can be written to connect with them. Remember, it’s important to speak to your prospects and not at them because, many times, they are your peers, not others in your industry.

If you like this post, you might also like:

  1. Does Your Website Copy Make the Sale?
  2. Top 4 Mistakes Preventing You from Connecting with Your Target Audience
  3. 10 Questions to Ask Yourself before Hiring a Copywriter
  4. Top 5 Ways to Know If Your Homepage Copy Is Self-Centered
  5. When You Get Clear, You Get Clients

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Melody October 12, 2009 at 9:14 pm

Oh boy Michelle, did you hit the nail on the head with #1. Businesses don’t mind changing the descriptions of their services or the verbiage they use to connect with clients. But they do *not* like it when you tell them it’s time to make the copy client-centered. They genuinely don’t understand why it needs to be changed, but once you figure out how to explain it to them, then they get it and are happy to make the changes. .

Michelle October 14, 2009 at 12:52 pm

Melody, thanks for the post. I wonder why it’s hard for businesses (esp. owners) to understand the need to speak to customers and not talk about themselves.

Doug Stewart October 14, 2009 at 5:05 pm

Have you ever watched a bad small business commercial on TV? You know, where the owner’s kids say, “come by and see us?” Or the whole family is sitting on a couch dressed in their Sunday best, grinning at the camera? Some small business owners do a great job serving their customers. Their business grows. But then they attempt “advertising” or “marketing online.” They believe because they are good business people, they are automatically good marketers. Big mistake.

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