One of my readers, Selina, asked an excellent question last week. She asked:
“I’m wondering why you say to only write in the first person. I have seen other people say that it is better to write in the third person to convey a sense of professionalism. You suggest writing the homepage in the first person. Would this also apply to the about page, and the whole website?”
Firstly, great question, Selina. And I have very strong views on this subject.
I’m going to assume that because you’re reading this blog, you’re the kind of person who cares about the outcomes that you deliver for your clients. You want to help them overcome something (or many things) that’s bothering them and live a better life or have a better business.
You also want clients that you enjoy working with, so you need clients that genuinely like you, your work & your particular style of working. In other words, you need to feel (and have) a connection to the people who enquire about working with you; you need them to already be primed to work with you because they know, like & trust you.
Now that we’ve got that sorted… I most definitely do not recommend that you write your website in the third person.
Here’s why: your dream clients aren’t going to leap at the chance to work with you if you talk in the third person.
The third-person uses an objective narrator who tells the story without describing your thoughts, opinions, or feelings. It sounds like the story is happening to a distant, far-away person.
It’s very hard for your readers to feel a connection to you if you put a narrator in between you & them because they can’t get a sense of your thoughts, opinions, or feelings that define you as a business person.
And if your audience can’t get to know the real you through your website, then you’ll have a much harder time attracting the right clients for you.
Generally, third person copywriting is done by big, bland, corporate companies who are not known for caring about their customers.
Let’s take a look at Microsoft. The Microsoft Australia’s About Page starts with:
Established in 1985, Microsoft Australia is the Australian subsidiary of Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq “MSFT”), the worldwide leader in software, services, devices and solutions that help people and businesses realise their full potential.
Does that make you feel connected to or interested in Microsoft & their work? No.
Do you feel any loyalty to Microsoft? Probably not.
Are you excited to share their website with others? Definitely not.
Why? Because all they’re doing is talking about themselves, instead of showing you how their products can transform your life. They write about how awesome they are & how great their product is, instead of focusing on you & what they can do for you.
Think about it: when you visit a website, do you think about how your money will help the business increase its revenues & let the owner take more holidays? Of course not. You want to know how the store’s products & services can help you reach your goals & make your life better.
Your audience is on your website because they want you to solve their problems & improve their life. That means they need to feel like you actually understand their problems.
The fastest way make your audience feel like you understand them is to talk to them like a real person. That means not writing in the third person.
When you talk in the first or second person, instead of the third person, it allows you to focus on your audience & shows sensitivity & understanding of their needs & problems. And that helps you build a strong relationship with your audience that makes them feel understood.
And that feeling of understanding triggers an emotional response – it creates connection.
And connection creates loyalty.
And loyalty brings repeat customers.
Writing your website in the third person puts a barrier between you & your dream customers.
On the other hand, writing in the first or second person lets you build a genuine connection with them, show that you understand them & are able to solve their problems. If you want to be one of the lucky ones with dreamy clients that you love working with, it’s the best way to go.
Your business is built on the people you serve and the person you are.
You (hopefully) already know enough about yourself, but how well do you know the people that you aim to serve? How intricately do you know their needs, wants and absolute must-haves?
It’s a huge part of your entrepreneurship puzzle and lots of people haven’t spent the time learning about their dream clients. Yes, it can take some time to figure it out. But this time is an investment in your business that will pay off tenfold once you get it done and action what you learn.
When you have boat loads of information about your dream client, then you can write web copy that attracts her, post during times when she’ll see your content, create products and services that help solve her problems and so many other great things that this list may never end.
The goal is to get more information about them so that you can learn how to attract more people like them.
I’ve created this list to help get you started learning about your dream client. Everything listed here is free, fast and super effective.
Hang tight, this is a long + thorough post.
You know that super inspiring, dream woman that you’ve worked with in the past? Your favourite clients that you could work with over and over again?
There are probably links between all your past clients – characteristics, attitudes, goals, ambition, working style, communication style, willingness to invest in working with you.
Think back to working with these women and make a list of reasons why you enjoyed their company. These might be:
You’re most likely listing intangible things – things that you should feel when meeting with your dream clients. And that’s ok. You’ll learn more tangible things about them in the next steps.
Google Analytics is a free tool that can quickly and easily give you mountains of information about the people visiting your site. You can learn:
The trick is knowing how to use it without getting overwhelmed.
If you’re not yet confident using your Google Analytics, check out this Skillshare course: Master Google Analytics In 1 Hour for Beginners. I learned a lot from this course. I can now open Google Analytics without flipping out and understand what the information is telling me. Highly recommended. And you get a free month of membership if you use this link.
Surely there’s no easy way to find out more about your dream clients than to go straight to the source and ask them.
You have two options here: you can ask everyone on your mailing list some questions or you can target your favourite clients.
I’m going to assume that you’ll choose to target only your favourites, but the process is the same if you want to email everyone.
Start by writing out a list of your awesome clients – the ones that you could happily clone and work with over and over. The more, the merrier. Or, in this case, the longer the list, the more responses you’ll get.
Next, think of 6 or more questions that you’d like to ask them. These might be something like:
Once you’ve got your questions prepared, create an online form to gather answers from these questions. Google “free online form” and you’ll find lots of options.
Finally, email your favourite clients (or whole list), ask them to fill out your online questionnaire and provide a link to it. HINT: If you actually ask people to do you a favour – use the word “favour” in your subject line – it can boost your response rates for practically zero effort.
Traditional businesses and start ups often pay tens of thousands to some market research company to hold focus groups and send them some data about their findings. Poor schmucks.
We’re smarter than that. We know that we can do that on the cheap.
Let’s say that you’re a one-woman bakery and you sell mouth-watering cupcakes at your local farmers market. You could ask each buyer if they’d be willing to chat to you for a few minutes and in exchange, you’ll throw in an extra cupcake of their choice.
Have a few questions prepared, so that you get comparable information from everyone you talk to. You might ask:
The secret benefit to this approach is that you’ll get to have real conversations that build relationships with your buyers. Plus, you’ll get more memorable information than mere data.
Maybe, like me, your dream clients are other women entrepreneurs who do soul-charging, world-changing work. It’d be a safe bet that you can find thousands of these dream clients hanging out in Marie Forleo’s private B-School Facebook group.
There are groups and forums like this for every industry + every niche. You just need to go hunting to find them + join.
Once you’re in, listen to what members have to say and take note of their pain points – what are they finding difficult, what don’t they understand, what frustrates them, what keeps them up at night?
You’re in luck. Amazon is a secret hideaway for all sorts of copywriting gold + now I’m sharing that secret with you.
Amazon houses some amazingly in-depth book + product reviews written by everyday people. These people are essentially testing out the messaging attached to those books + products and letting you know their feedback.
They’ll tell you what they like, what the product doesn’t do and doesn’t achieve. If you’re lucky, they’ll even tell you what they wanted but didn’t get – and this is pure gold when it comes to creating messaging + positioning against your competitors. It’s basically a free test audience.
If you sell products, you’ll want to search for competitor products on Amazon + read their product reviews.
If you sell services, you’ll need to find authors that your dream clients follow + read their book reviews.
Look at multiple reviews for multiple products in your niche. (Looking at one review won’t give you enough information to really make a difference to your business messaging.) Seek out the reviews that others’ considered to be helpful – luckily, these are the ones displayed at the top of the reviews section.
What are the common themes in these reviews? What do most people want + aren’t getting? What needs are already being satisfied?
For example, maybe you’re a life coach who helps your clients transition out of boring corporate jobs + into self employment. Your dream clients probably read Pamela Slim’s book Escape from Cubicle Nation.
After reading through the reviews, you find this gem:
This review is written by a Top 500 reviewer and is considered helpful by 27 of 27 people. You can quickly see that these people want:
The reviewer is also very specific and detailed about the things that she doesn’t like about the book.
Lather, rinse, repeat. Look at multiple books and multiple reviews for each one to get a thorough look at your dream clients wants + needs.
Now you’re in an excellent place to start meeting your dream clients needs – including a better idea of how to phrase your offering to appeal to those needs.
There are 6 simple, but stellar ideas in this post.
Whether you implement one or all of them, you’ll be in a much better position to tailor your offerings & your message to those that you most want to work with.