Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Don't Be Afraid to Make Commitments In Your Content

We're back for 2007! I trust I didn't lose any readers this weekend?

Good. Welcome back. And now, onward to a new year of written wit and marketing mayhem!

Today I'll talk about something that clicked in my brain while working yesterday. (Yes, back to the grind like everyone else.) I received some revisions back from a client for their website project. They only wanted a few changes, nothing too egregious. But one caught my eye because of the meaning behind it.

This client wanted to change from declaring a concrete "average service time" - in his case, 4 hours average for a service that often runs 12+ hours - to saying they "respond in a timely manner."

Er. That's like shrinking away from shaking a customer's hand.

It's shying away from commitment in your content. The client was effectively saying, "I don't want to make any definite claims on my site, in case someone calls me on them later."

Let me ask you this - how do you expect customers to trust you if you hide from them behind flat, non-commital language? If you give them no reason to expect anything from you?

Answer: they won't. They'll go elsewhere with their trust. And their business.

Web content is intended to not only make customers aware of what you provide them, but also to give them reasons to trust you. The Web is overloaded with spam, scam artists, phishers and just plain deadbeat businesspeople. Trust has never been more valuable. I'm sure you remember at least one time when you didn't buy online due to lack of trust.

Your content must (not should, must) reach through the screen and lay your hand on their shoulder. Yes, you will have to follow up on commitments. All good companies do. It's what sets them apart.

Nothing to be afraid of. Except doing your job.

How will you make these commitments in your content? Here are a couple ways I've found.

Be Concrete
Use numbers, or clear-cut promises when talking about your services. Both, preferably.
One example - cut out 'can' from your language. It only implies ability; it doesn't cement it. "We can bring you more business." VS. "We bring you more clients." Which sounds more solid?

Back It Up
a) Put in testimonials not just on a Testimonials page, but wherever they'd help your case.
b) Ask for follow-ups from visitors. In this digital age, people love to speak out. Let them know you want to hear what they have to say, and you establish trust between both parties.

Accept Calls
Put contact points up on your major services listings. An email form, or phone number. This way customers can confirm what you're saying or ask for more about it. Again, you're giving them a chance to be heard.

Commitment is not easy to make. Especially in website copy, where your company's exposed to the world and lives (or dies) by your word. Without it though, you give no reason to stay in business. Make those declarative statements. Hold to solid claims. Listen.

If you can't trust your company to deliver - why should customers?



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