My 10th grade English teacher, Mr. Vandeboe, taught me an important writing lesson that I carry with me to this day: Don't put anything in writing that you can't back up with facts.

Sure, this seems pretty obvious. But just check out the huge number of Internet sites that say they're "the industry leader," using "state-of-the-art methods" to "keep a flawless customer satisfaction rating." Huh?

Without solid facts backing up your statements, you've reduced your hard-hitting Web copy to foo-foo marketing fluff. And through all the unsubstantiated hype, it's very hard to figure out what you do, why you're good, what you're selling, and how you can help.

Just imagine if a salesperson said, "You should buy from us because we're the best in town." What would your first question be? That's right. "Why?" And if they couldn't give you a good answer, you'd boogie away.

When your customers hit your site, they want information -- not cheesy statements that don't say anything. Because of this fact, I'm altering Mr. Vandeboe's lesson for the Web world: If your prospects can't find the why, they won't want to buy.

Just the Facts
No, this doesn't mean you're doomed with a dirt-dull Web site with nary a benefit statement in sight. Nor does this mean your Web site should read like a laundry list of services. Rather, this means you should always, always back up your hard-hitting text with solid factual statements. Your prospects want "Just the facts, ma'am." Not a whole lot of hype.

Unfortunately, it's pretty simple to get carried away and start writing mindless drivel that sounds good. After all, you want to wow your prospects right off the bat -- and it seems that buzzwords such as "We're the best" grab your prospects more readily than "Hey, we're OK!"

Next month, we'll dissect some popular "fluffy statements" bit by bit and learn how to write them in an informational (and still persuasive) format. From "We're the industry leader" to "Our customers love us," we'll talk about how to write for your customers -- and how to give them what they want without losing your sales impact.

Do you have your own favorite "fluffy" lines and want to know how to write them in savvy marketing speak? Send them to We'll fine-tune your favorite statements into marketing phrases that actually work - and turn your prospects into customers.

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