How to drastically improve the copy on your site, even if you only have 5 minutes.

May 2, 2013 in An idea, Business Intel, Expert Advice, Landing Pages, Tips

First, let me tell you a little story involving butterflies and bladders. 

I've spent the past few days at MicroConf. Just a phenomenal conference, full of like-minded folks, loaded with actionable content. Not to get too carried away, but it was a life-changer. I'd go on some more, but I don't want you competing with me for tickets next year.

On the second day, Joanna Wiebe from Copyhackers selected a handful of sites from the audience to do a public "tear down" of in front of these 200 folks. 200 folks I admire and respect. I had submitted my baby, my brand-new, just launched site ( ahead of time as a candidate to be selected.

As soon as she took the stage, an angry mob of butterflies started attacking my internal organs.

She opened the first site and started working it over and providing some great, if slightly brutal feedback. Really good stuff. After she moved to the next site I could see in her browser window that she had about 12 tabs open. It dawned on me that she was working her way through these open tabs, and that the open tabs were the sites she had selected for tear down. About eight tabs in, I saw the favicon for my site. The angry butterflies grew teeth. Sharp ones. And they pulled out pitch forks. And chainsaws. And congregated in my bladder.

I figured 7 tabs was a lot of ground to cover, so I would have the time to address the sudden urge, and from where I was sitting in the very front row I quickly slinked out the back of the room to the bathroom. What a baby, I know. I emptied my bladder and the butterflies relocated to my stomach and heart. I hurried back to the conference room and what to my wondering eyes did appear as I walked in the room than my site, my baby, my precious up on the big screen. She had already started. The moderator was looking for the site owner to hand the microphone to. I pulled a hamstring sprinting to the front of the room, groping for the microphone like the final runner in a relay race. 


So here's what I learned, and how I dramatically improved the copy on my site in 5 minutes (and how you can too):

After she said some nice things, Joanna pointed out the main problem with my copy - the language was all focused on me, and it should instead be focused on my prospect. I was selling myself, when I should be focusing on what's in it for them.

In Joanna's own words:

Talking about yourself -- even thinking about yourself -- when you write your copy will only do one thing: get in the way.

It will shut down the sale.

Which means that you are the biggest roadblock to better communication with your customers.

This is the foundation of great copywriting: People don't care about you. They only care about themselves.

You care about you. But no one else does. (Except yo' mama.)

Your visitors want what they want. They do not "want" what you're trying to sell them.

Your job then, is not to "try" to sell your visitors a product. You're trying to sell them themselves.

Ok, so here's a fun little exercise, take a look at the version of my site Joanna (and everyone!) saw and see if you can spot the problems. To make it easier, I've color-coded my stupidity.



So as soon as I got home, I spent 5 minutes (and I'll need to spend more, we're not perfect yet) and turned those sub headings around. Check out the difference below (or see it here in the wild).


Notice the difference? Yeah. Serious improvement.

My humble thanks to Joanna for the help.

I hope this gives you some ideas for your site. 

I highly recommend Joanna's email list, by the way. The first lesson she sends out addresses the same topic I've addressed here in even more depth.


The Game is Afoot

July 18, 2005 in 5 out of 5 stars, An article, An idea

What is it?

The Game is Afoot: A brilliant diatribe/lesson/article written by Eric Sink, a quite successful entrepreneur running his own ISV. The industry is software development, but the principles are universal.


Who makes it?

Eric Sink

Why is it the killerest?

Because Eric gets it. And he is a superb teacher. As you read through this, he makes important points, then backs them up with stories and analogies. This article will make you think, and hard. It's brilliant.

Example: I've totally changed my thinking about competition (and how much I hate it).

So as you daydream about starting your own company, you search for product ideas, and you discard all of the ones which would already have a known competitor.  Eventually, you find an idea which is completely unique.  Nobody is selling anything like it.  Finally, the path before you is clear! So you proceed to build your killer app.  Of course, you are terrified that somebody else will discover your amazing idea, so you keep everything a secret.  You setup a small office in the corner of your basement and paint the windows black.  You tell your wife you are downstairs looking at porn so she won't get suspicious about what's really going on.  Not a single human being on earth gets a glimpse of your product until you are finally ready to unveil your 1.0 release.  You emerge from stealth mode and wait for the world to overload your web storefront with traffic. But the orders don't come in.  Several months go by and eventually you realize the truth:  The reason nobody else was selling this kind of product already is that nobody really needs it.  If any substantial number of people were willing to pay for the solution you created, then somebody else would already be trying to relieve them of their money.

What could be improved?

It's a tad lengthy (and ugly), but it's all so good this is a minor quibble.

How much does it cost?

Free like bad advice (only this is good advice)


Reviewed by Carson McComas

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11 Ways to Improve Landing Pages

June 29, 2005 in 4 out of 5 stars, A magazine article, An article, An idea

What is it?

11 Ways to Improve Landing Pages: A great article on improving your ad landing pages.


Who makes it?

Michael Nguyen for Digital Web Magazine

Why is it the killerest?

Similar to a post I wrote last week about dramatically increasing your conversion rate from ads, particularly Google Adwords ads. It has great tips and best of all a before-and-after, "hands on" where he shows how to apply his tips as he changes a terrible landing page he found, into one that would actually work. Good stuff.


Reviewed by Carson McComas

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