What’s the biggest thing that gets in the way of a commercial writer writing good stuff? Pure and simple it’s ego.
Here’s a sad scenario. People who write ads and mailings and commercials and banners and web sites that sell sometimes think people actually want to read their work.
Imagine, I’m watching a great movie on TV, look at my watch and darn! the ads are coming on in three minutes. So I rush to the bathroom, do what I gotta do, and rush back to my seat so I don’t miss the commercials.
I don’t think so.
“Honey,” I say. “Let’s take a ride in the car so we can check out the billboards along the highway. If we turn on the radio we might be able to catch the latest ad for Jack’s Radio Palace.”
Or maybe I’ll camp out by the mailbox, waiting for my National Geographic, just so I can see if there’s a new Toyota ad on the back cover.
It ain’t gonna happen.
So what makes you think people are going to be rushing to read those funky banner ads? Well, we already know that fewer and fewer people are reading the banner ads.
But if you have a web site that sells stuff, what makes you think people are going to want to read anything on your site? Why would they want to read through your home page? Why would they want to move on to the next page and read more of your words?
Remember, when it comes right down to it, they don’t give a damn about your site, your business or your life. They just came by to see if there was anything there for THEM.
What’s this got to do with writing? Everything. Because your mindset will determine the way in which you write. And if you have in mind that people actually WANT to read your web site, you’re likely in for a big surprise. Here’s my two part prescription to help you write stuff that actually gets read.
First, never lose sight of the fact that writing a web site that is designed to sell is “commercial writing.” The purpose is to sell. It isn’t literature. It isn’t a letter home. You’re not writing to someone who gives a damn. It’s important to remember this, because it puts you in your place.
Second. Give the reader something that they do give a damn about and fast.
This means that you have to understand what it is that your visitors want.
Then you have to present your sales message in a way that addresses that “want.”
Then you have to write that message in a way that is simple, clear and short.
Then, as you write, keep the end result in mind at every stage. You know, the “give us your money” result. The whole point. The purpose. To sell something.
It sounds like I’m recommending that your web site simply be a direct mail flyer online. I’m not. You can have your site filled with a thousand pages of background information, forums and other “information rich” content. That’s there for the people who CHOOSE to go there.
What I am recommending is that you should create a fast and lean pathway between your home page and order form for those who don’t want or need the “information rich” experience.
The internet is becoming an increasingly competitive environment. So you need to write the “sales pathway” in a manner that sells. Before your competitors do it first.
And when you’re writing the “sales pathway,” never forget that the reader, unless she’s your mom, really doesn’t want to read what you’re writing.
So lose your ego and make your writing relevant, compelling and fast.