Maria von Trapp is definitely one of my all-time favourite Nazi-fighting musical nuns. But when it comes to B2B web copywriting, she was useless.
Because (and I’m sorry about this, Maria) the very beginning is a terrible place to start. At least, it is when you’re working on a web copy project.
The first thing your web visitor reads should be the last thing you wrote.
There are two, connected reasons:
1. The first words your web visitor reads are always the most important.
Whether it’s the first words they see on the page, or the first page they see on the site, those first few seconds are make-or-break. That’s where they decide whether they’ll read on, and make all the important snap decisions. You need to deliver, and there are no second chances.
2. You need to set out exactly what they can expect. (And you don’t know yet.)
The first paragraph sets out the value they’ll get from the page. And the first page calls attention to the most important parts of the site. How are you going to deliver that convincingly, if you haven’t written any of it yet?
The solution is actually pretty simple. Exercise a little patience and – tempting though it is to jump right in with the biggest words on the home page – write backwards.
Don’t literally write the words in reverse order, of course. But start at the most detailed bit of a detailed page, and work backwards to the big, high-level messages once you know exactly what they copy’s going to say.
That way, you’ll have done all your homework before you get to the most important part – and your page will be more effective.
And there you have it…
Nine sacred principles of truly badass B2B web copy: clarity, focus, perspective, kindness, empathy, integrity, consistency, prescience and patience.
The power is yours. Use it well.