Chances are, if you’re reading this blog, you’ve made a promise to improve your communications this year. Or perhaps you made a conscious effort prior to 2018’s fireworks? Whether New Year’s Day sparked this revelation or you’ve been committed to consistently refining your copywriting for a while, clarity and authenticity might just be two of your core words for this year.
I place an emphasis on these words because without clarity and authenticity, it’s almost impossible to communicate who you are and what you do.
And by "who you are and what you do", I don’t just mean fine-tuning your elevator pitch, although this is a helpful exercise in itself, if geared towards your customer's wants and needs.
When I say "communicate who you are and what you do", I’m talking about getting clear on how you help people, and particularly who these people actually are.
And then including it in your website copy, either explicitly, or through the nuances of your brand voice.
Because without getting clear on your ideal audience, you’ll attract waves and waves of wishy-washy shop-arounders.
If you’re struggling with making clarity and authenticity a core focus this year, it’s time we had a chat about writing an identifiable, cognizant and useful statement about who your ideal client is, and then incorporating that within your content.
Why define your ideal audience? Because you can't be everything to everyone.
I staunchly believe in explicitly identifying your ideal client, and I always recommend this to my clients, too. In fact, I’ve placed a verbal description of this ideal client within the body of Styled & Scripted's About page, but it can also be a whole page unto itself.
Of course, I can often be met with hesitations when I suggest finding a niche. The most common belief is that in singling out a particular demographic, we leave a whole group of people in the dark. People who could clearly benefit from a client’s services and products.
We don’t want to do that, but that doesn’t mean trying to be the people’s everything is a solution. Why?
When you try to dilute your message, you essentially show up as a diet version of yourself. Your uniqueness is watered down, your values murky and muddled, your voice a vague mimicry of all those you admire.
So what sort of things should we be incorporating in to this all-important avatar? How do we go beyond gender, employment, education level, nationality and income? And how do we communicate that effectively and efficiently within the actual copy itself?
The following is a list of attributes you should include in your statement/sketch, you can include in your statement/sketch, and those you should stear clear of for the sake of clarity.
I've also included examples of websites that have clearly identified their dream audience, and have successfully woven this audience's wants, goals, needs, preferences and personality within the content.
How to define your target market
Customer journey position
Are they ready to make a deposit, sign a contract or work with you tomorrow? Or are they still testing the waters, perhaps wanting to initiate a complementary consultation before they commit? Are they at the start of their purchasing journey, or are they nearing the end? Do you want to work with them tomorrow, or are you happy to let them get a feel for you and your business?
In practice: Hiring a copywriter isn’t easy, so I speak to people who are still shopping around. I don’t assume that they’re ready to purchase my services after reading my website once, so that’s why I give people the option to explore my services and sign up to my email newsletter.
If you’re offering a high-value service, you might want to consider getting your audience to engage with you first via your blog, email newsletter, or by offering free resources. These can all be implemented as calls-to-action on your home page in a side bar, or even at the top using Hello Bar as I've done.
Amanda from Plush Content Co has a firm grasp on who her ideal audience is. She speaks to a tribe of young, female business owners, who are seeking feminine images to represent their product or service.
As you can see above, her opt-in offer copy is short and straight to the point. The idea is to encourage website visitors to join her mailing list, with the benefit of receiving something for FREE to enhance their business success online. The call-to-action is succinct, yet still enthusiastic, a hallmark of Amanda's tone-of-voice. It speaks to those who aren't quite immersed within her brand, grabbing their attention without wasting their time.
The lesson? If someone is new to your brand, don't bog them down with detail.
Conversely, Amanda's service page for her customised photography pages features a greater amount of detail, and clearly identifies who will benefit from her service.
Level of comprehension
We’re talking about subject depth here. Is your target market well acquainted with your particular area of expertise, or are they complete novices? Are your services tailored towards beginners or intermediate persons? Are you teaching or assisting the newly converted, or are you helping people expand upon their already comprehensive knowledge?
In practice: Not long ago, a super popular blogging workshop came to Australia (I won’t mention the name because I do hold the teachers in high esteem regardless). I had a handful of friends who attended, all who were disappointed with the experience. It wasn’t that the program was disorganised, or too short, or not there weren’t enough bathroom breaks. The major gripe was that the program was for beginners, and the girls behind the program hadn’t marketed it as such. The result was boredom with course material they were already well acquainted with, and a feeling that they’d all just wasted $900 on content they’d discovered online months before.
Always make sure you identify your ideal audience’s level of knowledge.
If you’re a service-based business (a stylist, or a social media manager), you likely have a mission to, well, be of service. And like many an entrepreneur I know, it's a mission usually defined by your own struggles and triumphs.
Perhaps you struggled within the 9-5 hustle, and successfully turned your side-hustle into a full-time career, and now want to help others climb their way out of their corporate tombs?
Or perhaps you've embraced your body as bodacious and beautiful, and now want to share that same confidence with other women feeling less than Giselle Bundchen?
If you're strongly mission-led, working with those who don’t align with your own mission, beliefs and purpose will ultimately drain you and leave you feeling unmotivated.
In practice: Mackayla of Social Stylings recently launched a new business, Marketer Mansion. While still staying within her zone of genius - digital marketing - the difference between her two businesses is the target market. While Social Stylings focuses on providing services and products for fashion, beauty and lifestyle business owners, Marketer Mansion aims to empower aspiring marketers to enhance their current skill-set, and launch their own full-time business.
Mackayla communicates her mission at multiple points on her website, yet it's the Start Here page that creates the most resonance with a personal story.
She begins with the premise of her journey to launching Marketer Mansion:
After noting her achievements with Social Stylings, she then opens the glass door to true vulnerability, revealing her struggles within her first year of business. The real, human shit that we all deal with behind the facade of cupcakes and coffee is laid bare on the table.
Yes, I achieved incredible things in my business and boosted my reputation, but I learnt a lot of hard lessons and faced challenging times.
In just ONE year…
My partner (that I lived with at the time) for two years broke up with me over the phone, the night before a morning speaking gig.
I had not one, but TWO copycat business owners that I had to send legal letters to… and let me tell you, those aren’t cheap!
On top of that, I had a stalker that started calling my business phone number and relentlessly harassing me. Yep, really.
How's that for a true display of authenticity?
The question is, what does this have to do with launching a new marketing business?
Stories create resonance and context, which helps us connect to concepts and ideas. After creating resonance with a highly emotive and relatable story, Mackayla then defines her mission, which is now easier to align with if our own struggles mirror Mackayla's.
And what makes this page even stronger is that it's not just Mackayla who's the heroine at the end of the story: it's her readers, who she's clearly resonated with through the art of authentic storytelling.
I also realized that now, after not only scaling a successful business, but also experiencing some pretty dark times, that I had some serious wisdom to share with those who wanted to become marketers.
People like you.
So that is where Marketer Mansion began.
Today I turn the page onto Chapter One, I hope you will join me.
This is a super common distinction you’ll see on many a website, particularly on the websites of those who work one-on-one with clients. Perhaps you prefer working with introverts, and want to narrow this down to their Myers Brigg’s personality type? For example, I’m an INTJ, and these personality types allegedly work better with ENFPs. That’s not to say I rule anyone out based upon their Myer’s Briggs results, but if it’s an important part of your methodology, you might want to consider this hallmark of personal attributes.
In practice: Of course, you don't have to explicitly define you prefer to work with or sell to those who consider themselves a bit EXTRA.
This isn't what Jenna Kutcher does, but it's evident within her copy, which is loud, daring, and laden with sparks of motivation. The stuff that provides extroverts with the impetus to BUY NOW.
Do you prefer to working with intentionally small start-ups? Or are large corporations and their marketing managers more appealing?
In practice: Working with a large organisation is a completely different experience from working with a start-up. Similarly, coaching a group of people requires a different set of skills and personal preferences as opposed to individual consultations.
Or, if you’re a creative, you might prefer working directly with your clients over working with agencies who outsource. Do you want to be the leader, or are you happy to be someone’s support system? Do you feel energised when surrounded by a team? Or do you prefer the straight-fowardness of one-on-one interactivity?
Gender, age, marital status, employment, income, education level.
In practice: Is your ideal client avatar a female in her 30s on the cusp of motherhood? Or is your audience more than likely a career-driven woman in her early 20s with a large amount of disposable income?
Vague descriptions not even worth mentioning
- "Ready to level up"
- "Wildly anything"
- "On a budget" (isn’t everyone?)
As you can see on Styled & Scripted's About page, I’ve incorporated a few of the above attributes. For me personally, I chose to include this statement on the About page because, contrary to what might be popular belief, your About page is actually not about you. You might find it worthwhile to create an entirely separate page for this purpose, or you might want to put it on your brand philosophy page (if you have one). It's up to, but make sure it's prominently placed.
Now it’s your turn.
When you get clear on who exactly it is that you want to be working with, you’ll be able to filter out the inevitable mismatched enquirers to make way for progressive, beneficial and enjoyable business relationships. Relationships that mirror your core values, and help you improve your own practice.