Have you ever wondered what it takes to convert the DIY copy you (a very capable business owner but still not a copywriter) wrote into slick words that sell written by a professional copywriter?
Today, I’ll show you exactly how it’s done using a real-life business website and the copy critique example I delivered to my latest client.
Before we dive in: some important background info
My client (let’s call her Jane) is a life and career coach for women.
She offers individual coaching (both in-person and courses) where she helps women who feel stuck and overwhelmed to change their lives for the better.
But she also offers executive coaching where she works with companies who’d like their talented employees to perform to their full potential and feel happier at work.
Jane reached out to me to review her website—a homepage, a coaching service page, and a course page—which I delivered last week.
She was also interested in my copy critique and copywriting services.
To demonstrate what my copy critique for her site would include, I critiqued her homepage banner copy.
She kindly agreed to let me share my feedback with you and also take it one step further: To show you not only what problems her current copy has but how I’d improve it.
Copy critique: The issues with the original copy
This is how Jane’s banner copy looks right now (I substituted her photo with a cartoon to make this exercise anonymous):
To decide if we’ve chosen the best words to communicate our message, we need to check for the following:
- Clarity: Can her prospects understand what she does fast?
- Relevancy: Do they understand it’s for them? I.e. do they identify with the target audience, have the same problems, and want to achieve the same results that the copy mentions?
- Value: Is the copy specific enough to paint a concrete (and valuable) image in the prospects’ minds?
Here are my two cents (copy issues marked blue).
Do you want to give it a go yourself first? Can you see what could be wrong with the marked parts?
Come on, don’t be shy. I’ll wait.
Shall we compare notes?
Word-for-word copy critique
“Get your life back”
A couple of problems I see with this:
- Are we sure it’s how Jane’s prospects think about their problems? I.e. how likely is it for them to lie awake at night, thinking (in exact those words) “Man, I want my life back”?
- This phrase is open to interpretation. What kind of life did they have before that they want it back? Did everyone have a good life to wish back for it?
…any of which may cause your prospect to think: “Huh? What do you mean by that?” or find this irrelevant.
Sure, as a service provider who works with people one-on-one you’re a big part of your offer. And you should talk about yourself at some point. Your banner is not that point.
Meaning, this copy is “I”-focused and puts the spotlight on Jane too soon. It would resonate better if the focus was on her prospects and their problems / needs instead.
IMO, this sounds unnatural. How sure are we that Jane’s prospects think to themselves, “Man, I wish I could *reclaim hours”?
This is vague copy. Plus, it overlaps with “finding a rewarding career”, which could also be considered as “starting something new”.
“spend time with loved ones”
I imagine they spend some time with their loved ones already. They just want to spend MORE time with them. If we decide to keep this phrasing, we need to say “spend MORE time”.
“hold you back or trip you up”
They both mean almost the same. For our purposes, one is enough. Pick one: either “hold back” or “trip up” to make the copy more to the point.
Here we have some “I”-focused copy again. We need to rephrase this to put Jane’s prospect in focus, for ex., as in “you’ll learn to use”.
“feel less frustrated and overwhelmed, and more joyful and at ease”
IMO, the final benefit is missing. What we need is something like “to feel like this and that so you can accomplish these goals“
- This is too long and too wordy for banner copy. We are making the prospects work harder than they should to understand what Jane does and what’s in it for them.
- There is still no clear picture of Jane’s target audience.
- The current banner copy defines them as “overburdened women”, which is probably the majority of the female population.
- The same holds for their problems and desired results the current copy mentions. Those problems/results should also narrow down Jane’s target audience. But “feeling overburdened, frustrated, overwhelmed / wanting to feel more joyful and at ease” is again too broad (90% of the world population, perhaps? 🙂)
Meaning, a couple of changes here and there won’t do the trick. We need to burn this with 🔥 and start this from scratch.
3 examples of improved copy (and the strategy behind them)
Since I didn’t do a copywriting project for Jane (I just reviewed her site), I don’t have enough information on the exact words and phrases her prospects use to describe their problems and desired results.
The improved examples below contain my best educated guess in this regard and could possibly be even better if I had more info.
Let’s talk about the website tagline first.
Website tagline: 2 questions to answer to find the right approach
For a website tagline, there are two main approaches to chose from:
- Focus on your offer
- Focus on the benefits/results your prospects get
You may think that the benefit-focused approach is always better. After all, hearing about what it is in it for you is more exciting than hearing about how this stranger you’ve just met calls their offers.
But is it really the case? 🤔
Your decision on what website tagline approach to use depends on how you’d answer the following two questions:
Q1: Does a “one-fits-all” benefit for your audience exist?
Is your target audience homogenous enough for you to find ONE benefit that will resonate with ALL of your prospects?
Q2: How do your prospects approach searching for your services?
Do they think, “I wish I could (achieve these benefits)”? Or are they thinking, “I need to find (this service / this kind of person)?”
Jane has two important audience segments: private clients and executive clients.
And while for her private clients it’s mainly about feeling less overwhelmed, getting more “me” time, rediscovering their passion and love for life,
…her executive clients, although also wishing for less stress and overwhelm, want to advance their career.
And although her private clients may search for the benefits like “how to feel less overwhelmed, rediscover your passion, how to escape the routine”, etc.
…her executive clients (and their bosses) are most certainly typing “executive coach” in the search bar.
Which leaves us with no choice but to focus her website tagline on her offer.
Rest of the banner copy
Here, we’re going to:
- make the copy fit the tagline, and
- make sure it’s clear, relevant, valuable, and succinct enough for Jane’s prospects to be able to process it fast.
Overall requirements for your banner copy: a quick checklist
The three examples you’re going to see in a moment eliminate the issues we had with the original copy (I-focused copy, too wordy, benefits too vague, audience too broad) and checks off all these important points every website banner copy should check off:
✔️ Caters to your major audience segments
✔️ Uses the exact words and phrases your prospects use to talk about themselves, their problems, and desired results (and thus, is relevant and valuable enough)
Easy-peasy, right? #notReally 😄
Improved example #1:Website tagline only
“Private and executive coaching for smart and caring women who want to change their life or career for the better”
Who said you always need both, a tagline and a subtagline? You can also have just one sentence in your banner. Just make sure your prospects can recognize themselves and their problems in it.
Improved example #2:Offer-focused tagline + benefit-focused subtagline
Private and executive coaching for smart and caring women
Gain confidence. Reclaim control over your life. Rediscover the joyful “you”.
The offer-focused tagline and some characteristics of the target audience establishes the basic relevancy fast. The subtagline tells the prospects why they should care.
The exact word choice for the benefits in the subtagline depends on:
- what, in your opinion as a business owner and someone who knows your audience best, your audience considers to be the three most important benefits / results
- what exact words and phrases they use to describe them
Improved example #3: Dare to be different
This example uses an unusual approach to the banner copy and has two columns with a tagline + subtagline in each to cater to each of the two major audience segments even better.
Private coaching for smart and caring women
Feeling stuck in the routine of the family and work obligations? Reclaim control over your time, rediscover your passion, and fall in love with your life again.
Executive coaching for talented women
Struggling to advance your career or find a more fulfilling job? Uncover your strength and gain confidence to achieve a career change you deserve.
I mean, why the hell not? 🤷
If the audience segments are that different why not do them a favor and save them some time by offering two distinct value propositions and a “door” to the more relevant part of the website right away?
Plus, I haven’t seen any of Jane’s competitors doing that. So this will be memorable for sure.
4 main takeaways you can apply to your banner copy today
Wow, you’ve seriously made it till the very end of this copywriting saga? Hats off to you!
Please accept your reward: 4 tips on how you can improve your banner copy today:
- Avoid saying “I” in your banner and make sure your copy is prospect-focused.
- Make sure you aren’t promising fake benefits but only things your prospects really care about, as in “Man, I wish I could do/get X”.
- Make sure you leave nothing open to interpretation and make your copy specific. 100% of your prospects should understand 100% of your copy in the same way (otherwise, you lose control over your argument).
- Make sure every word counts. If it doesn’t add value / doesn’t add enough value, remove it.
Want me to review your website or write your copy for your?
You’ll find all the necessary info on the following pages:
If you have any questions about any of this, leave it in the comments or drop me a line.