You-Focused Copywriting?

I’m issuing a correction on how to create copy and UX for your homepage

Nearly three months ago, I wrote: “How to write copy and UX for a homepage”. It’s not bad advice as far as it goes, but it’s missing a big IF.  

While I left out the big if, I did include one caveat that still holds true about the advice that post contains for creating your home page:

Caveat: these guidelines apply to niche B2B tech/creative firms (which are sort of the same thing nowadays) selling complex services or products to professionals and other businesses.

And then I went on to give practical advice focused on optimizing the home page for lead capture. In fact, I started off with the premise that the home page is a lead capture landing page first and a lead nurturing/client retention page second.

I went into practical tips that support this premise:

  • Reduce the clutter in the header using the Upside Down Home page theory
  • Cut down on clickable links or tools
  • Have a call-to-action
  • Repeat that call to action
  • Never have more than one call-to-action
  • Let the logo be accompanied by a straightforward tagline that supports your call to action
  • Have testimonials
  • Resolve objections with a mini-FAQ or bulleted list

And more. In fact, if you want to generate leads or conversions from your homepage you should read the article, as it has good advice which I have been turning over in my head for probably 15 years.

So what’s the missing if?

“What’s in it for you” marketing

The advice I gave on how to create copy and UX for a homepage is not marketing advice, per se. It is direct marketing advice. Or Conversion Rate Optimization. Or whatever you want to call it. It’s a form of marketing, but it’s not the only form.

If you’re in it for the leads right now, you want direct marketing. It’s been working in a codified way for 130 years. But if you’re also interested in the leads 5 to 10 years from now, however, I suggest a different approach.

(And that’s the missing “big IF”).

Maybe you are in this for the long term. You are not going to give up on your business and work for somebody else’s business. Or the state’s business. And you are doing to be patient about growing your business.

If that’s the case, then the question to ask while curating your homepage is “what’s in it for you – the visitor to my site?”. That question should lead to you giving away something useful very valuable for free. (Small print; creating something valuable takes work, whether you give it away for free or not.)

In my case, this newsletter is a valuable thing I can offer for free, so that’s what I am pushing on my homepage. (Of course, I get something out of it – your attention.) 

What do you call marketing that asks the question, “What’s in it for you?”.

Seth Godin called it Permission Marketing 20 years ago. Now he just calls it, “Marketing”(( By the way, set aside the fact that this book is about marketing and explore this audio version of the book just for its sheer artistry as an audio work. It’s almost as if it were designed from the get-go to be said and heard, not written and read

David Ogilvy called it “Image Marketing” 50 years ago, though he was speaking to a different universe.

Now you might call it brand marketing, ethical marketing, or authentic marketing. Unfortunately, every label we can think of has been claimed and defined by someone else; every single one of these labels has been perverted by people practicing heavy direct marketing. 

Digression: that’s why you have to create your own dictionary and define your own terms. “The dictionary” isn’t our collective taxonomic mommy anymore. Each of us in the knowledge business is responsible for defining our own terms.

Anyway, I would like to just call it (ie the opposite of direct marketing), “marketing”, which you can think of as, “building trust and creating clarity by listening, teaching, and guiding over a long period of time”. But the word marketing, by itself, means a million things to a billion people, so instead I settle for the label “trust-based marketing”.

So you should never use direct marketing in your marketing? Of course not that’s too simple. You should use some hybrid of direct marketing and trust-based marketing. Finding that balance is a topic I’ll have to save for another post but it’s a question of finding harmony between your now business and your future business.

Thanks for listening,