Writing your own website copy? Preparation - Part 2. Who's it to?

In the last article, we looked at the importance of preparing your web copy before launching into the creative part. Here, we'll examine a vital, but so often neglected, aspect of effective copywriting - thinking about who your website is for. Who are you trying to attract? Yep, I know. It sounds pretty obvious, but, you'd be astonished how many copywriters give this essential part of their preparation so little thought.

During Britain’s chilly winter months, every other Saturday afternoon, you’ll find me at the football.  I cut a sad and, it must be said, a somewhat pathetic and lonely figure.  There I slouch, for the best part of two hours, slumped awkwardly in a cracked plastic seat, a faded shade of pink (that’s the seat and me).  Raindrops trickle down the nape of my neck.  I shiver.

And the purpose of this unedifying occupation?  To indulge a childhood habit of proffering my support to the somewhat less-than-mighty Northampton Town (aka The Cobblers) football team, as they labour to avoid yet another morale-sapping defeat.

But I’m not quite alone.  I enjoy the company of a smattering of similarly hapless individuals, as we sit in morose camaraderie, savouring the bitter taste of inevitable sporting humiliation.

"Who's it to?"

Each week, I’m struck by a repeated wail from one of my fellow supporters.  Our so-called star player slides yet another misdirected pass a metre and a half wide of its intended target.  My fellow spectator cries out in despair - “Who’s it to?”

No answer is ever forthcoming.  This most pertinent of questions hangs unrequited in the heavy, sodden, February air.  But his question is a good one - and not just for the football field.  It should matter greatly to you, as you prepare to write those winning words for your website.

Hit the target

This story graphically illustrates the importance of thinking about your audience ... before you start work on your web content.

Are your readers likely to be serious-minded professionals?  In which case, if you’re to engage with them effectively, you might think twice about writing in the language of ‘the street’.

Is your website aimed at nine-to-twelve-year-old children?  Again, you’ll be thinking carefully about your writing style.

Don’t go overboard

Some marketers think way too hard about their target reader.  Their theory goes like this -

Before you write, build a picture of your ideal client.  Ask yourself questions about them.  Are they a man or a woman?  What age are they?  What’s their occupation?  Are they single or married?  Do they have children?  How many?  How do they spend their spare time?  What are their achievements, their challenges, their hopes and aspirations?  What do they eat for lunch?  Finally, (would you believe it?) if they were an animal, what animal would they be?

This creating of a precise 'avatar' is massively over the top.  Far better to focus your website content planning on your reader’s likely current situation  - on their probable ‘pain points’.  Pain points?  No - not what you might find in the DIY manual for amateur sadists.  Pain points are the need(s) that your business will resolve.

Walk in your readers’ shoes

As you sit down to compose your web copy, you need to be thinking, “Who’s it to?”.  Now and then, perhaps before you start each paragraph, just take a moment.  Pause.  Fix again on your target reader and make sure you’re writing to them in their language - in a way which demonstrates that you’re on their side, walking in their shoes.  You need to be able to show them that you understand them and that you have the means to make their lives a little better. And that, is the art of good copywriting.

Feb 11, 2020
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