This article is from one of our affiliates, Jenika McDavitt, from Psychology for Photographers.
Have you ever sat down to write a website (or Facebook post, or any marketing piece) – and had no idea where to start? You’re not sure what to say that will attract attention. And maybe you dislike the feeling that you’re being ‘salesy’ – why can’t people just look at your work and hire you?
You know what I like to do in this situation? Get my ideal client to write the words for me.
No, I don’t mean actually hand over the login and password and have them do it. But you can freely snatch the words right out of their mouths – and find it’s far more effective than what you could have come up with solo.
Last time, we talked about how describing the exact concerns a client has makes them sit up and pay attention. An ad for athletic pants that features another happy person running? Yawn. An ad specifically mentioning that these seamless pants never chafe, have three secure pockets for essentials, and make you look great? Well hang on a minute. I can’t stand trying to find a place to stash my keys…tell me more.
You’re going to be more effective if your website copy is in tune with the real-time concerns your client has as they read.
You can describe all day how relaxing your in-home newborn sessions are, but if the person reading it is worried you’ll judge them for having a messy house and under-eye circles, they might click away and say “nah, I’ll just take my own pictures.”
But if they see you gently bring up and dispel that issue right as they’re thinking it? Hang on…tell me more.”
Here’s the catch, though: You’re an expert at what you do, so it’s going to be hard to imagine exactly what they’re thinking on your own. Psychology researchers call this the “curse of knowledge” – once you understand something, it’s hard to go back and imagine being new to it.
(And psssst…one reason why Amazon reviews are so effective is that reviewers tend to speak in real life terms: “This fridge will fit your Thanksgiving turkey and won’t freeze lettuce that gets shoved into the back.” That is simply more useful and persuasive than what a manufacturer might write: “Our large-capacity freezer has 10.1 cubic feet of space for all your needs!”)
Getting client input is critical because they’re using words your new clients will also be thinking of. Step outside your perspective – and ask them!
Here’s how you get clients to write for you:
Email as many past clients as possible and say something like:
“Hey, how are you? [ask how their husband/daughter/furry family members are doing]
Also, I was wondering if you could help me with something. I want to make sure I’m doing everything I can to help new clients – could you take a second and answer two quick questions for me?”
Then, feel free to copy and paste the following exactly, or modify as needed:
1) While you were looking for someone to hire, or before you had your session, was there anything at all you were worried about? (About how the session would go, whether you’d have a certain need met – it’s ok to be honest.)
2) Did that thing you were concerned about actually happen? If not, what happened instead?
Why these questions?
People usually want to be polite and only tell you how great it all was.
These questions help you tune right into any concerns they had, and how you addressed them. This gives you the actual language to use to talk to new clients!
What do you do with the answers?
Start by looking for patterns. If all your newborn clients say they were worried about how their house would look, or how they would look, and your site doesn’t do anything to address that – you’re probably losing people who have those same concerns.
Then address those concerns into the descriptions of your services.
For example, if a client gave these answers, and several others said something along the same lines:
- I was worried that my daughters would be too energetic for you to get the kind of images I saw on your site. They aren’t exactly cooperative all the time, especially if they’re bored!
- That didn’t happen at all! My girls took to you right away and wanted to play games, and their enthusiasm showed up in the images.
Here are three things you can do with that:
1) Address the concerns directly on your main info page using similar language:
You might include something like:
Some people tell me they worry their kids are ‘too energetic’ to get good family images, but the great news is – that energy is exactly what makes for great photos. I won’t ask them to stand still, I’ll ask them to race me to the creek and tell me about the best movie they’ve seen recently. Many parents come to me once they see their images and say “I can’t believe what you were able to do – I can never get images like this of my kids.”
That will stop someone in their tracks who is reading this squinting and saying “Yeah, but MY kids….” – they’ll feel like you’re reading their mind.
2) Dedicate an FAQ question to the concern, using language similar to what your clients wrote:
- What if I have ‘energetic’ kids and I’m worried they might not cooperate?
The closer you can write that question to the exact kind of language you see your clients using, the more new clients will feel like YOU are the one who will ‘get’ them.
3) Borrow sentences directly from the answers, then ask permission to use it as a testimonial:
Did someone say something that really nailed a concern? Write a note back to the client and say “Hey – you know what? I think a lot of people have this same concern, and they would really love to hear from someone who has already had a photo session. Would you mind if I used these two lines of what you wrote?
“I was worried my daughters would be too energetic for Jane to get the kind of images I saw on her site. My girls took to her right away and wanted to play games, and their enthusiasm showed up in the images.”
(It’s highly likely that they’ll say yes – just be sure to get their approval.)
Lots of people will sing your praises – but the most effective testimonials are often expressions of honest concerns and the ways you overcame them. Chances are high there’s another client using this exact same language in her head, and she will love to see how the situation turned out for a fellow mom (or bride, or business owner, etc.).
By the way, even if you don’t have a large group of past clients, you can still get ideas from others.
There’s no time like the present: Create an email that from now on you will send to all clients after delivering their images. That way, when you revisit your website in a few months, you have a cache of answers at hand.
You can also send the questions to people you know who are a lot like the kind of people you want to work with, and simply modify the questions to ask what concerns they had when looking for a photographer. It will still clue you in to their concerns and help you adjust how you explain your services.
So: Next time you’re sitting there thinking what to write to sound convincing – take it right out of a client’s mouth!
Addressing their concerns will help new clients pay attention and feel safer hiring someone who ‘gets’ them. Now, get to sending those emails!
If you find that you get stuck when trying to write for your website, or feel paralyzed when you try to blog – you need Irresistible Words.
By the time you’re done with the course, you’ll know how to write a blog post in 20 minutes or less (seriously) and nail your info and pricing pages on your website. Why not start now? Go download the free sample chapter and learn a foolproof trick for getting anyone to keep reading. (I can’t believe I’m giving it away for free!)