Buyer-Focused Writing Guidelines

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Filed under: Canright Writers' Blog

Buyer-Focused Writing Guidelines

One of our clients has its consultants working on copy for a website we are in the midst of redesigning. The redesign will promote a new service focus for the firm and sharpen both its image and value proposition.

As with many business-to-business and professional services websites, the existing copy explains the firm’s capabilities. The head of business development asked me to provide writing guidelines so that consultants can write about what they do in a less internally focused way. Here’s what I sent, with minor edits and deletions:

There’s really only one guideline to follow:

You are writing from the perspective of the value you provide to clients, not the things you do for clients.

That means the benefits rather than the features, to put it in marketing language.

Secondarily, you are telling the visitor why you are the ones who can best provide the value rather than someone else. You do not need to be heavy handed here, and if you are, that’s OK. We’ll tone it back.

Main questions to keep in mind:

What do we do for the client? What does the client get? What results do we generate? How do we help them?

In other words, keep a focus on the benefits to the clients, rather than what you do for the clients. You can list the things you do ONLY after you tell me what the client will get as a result of what you do. Here’s a quick example from your site to show what I mean:

There is no such thing as “ideal” executive compensation and performance measurement framework. What works for Boeing does not necessarily work for Microsoft. Instead, there are a series of decision points that need to be considered including firm culture, its managers, and its positions in the Company business life cycle. As such, our executive compensation offerings include:

* Competitive compensation analysis, including review of base salaries, annual incentive, and long-term incentive payout;

* Annual incentive pay design;

* Long-term incentive pay design, including cash-based, equity-based and phantom equity-based design;

The beginning is OK as a description of the what and an argument of why I might need to do the what. But it doesn’t really say how the business will be better, how decisions will be better, what result we will help you produce, why you should have us help you produce that result rather than someone else.

Again, this is crudely stated and doesn’t need answers as blunt as the questions (becuase professional services and consulting firms aren’t direct-response marketers), but you do need to tell people why they should buy from you.

What do you bring in your services that your competitors do not? You aren’t [large industry leader]. Why [you]? What does [your firm] offer me in the area of “long-term incentive pay design” that someone else doesn’t? What do I get from that? How can I make better decisions? How will that give better performance?

Finally, have some fun. You all seem to like what you do. Let it show. Write like you are excited and don’t worry about using “professional” language or marketing language. We can fix that easily enough.

What other guidelines do you follow to make sure copy and messaging focuses on the buyer’s needs rather than the seller’s services?