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Fix These Four Fluffy Flaws in Your Web Copy

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Do you have fluffy statements on your Web site that sound cool but don't offer your reader any real information?

Don't worry. Here are four common "fluff flaws" -- and easy ways you can transform them into marketing gold.

1. They Love Us, Why Don't You?
The characteristics. Your sentences make unsubstantiated claims about your company. For example:

  • "We have proven results."
  • "Our clients think we're #1."
  • "We're the industry leader."

The challenge. Yes, you want to promote your industry expertise -- and pushing "proven results" provides instant credibility. But if you don't support your statements somewhere on your site, your prospects will figure that you're #1 in marketing hype -- and they'll surf to your competitor.

The fix. One way to persuasively support your "We're #1" copy is to link these sentences to a testimonials page. That way, prospects can instantly read real-life kudos from your clients raving about your product or service -- and feel more comfortable buying from you.

If you have an independent study touting your service, or you received an award or press coverage, market the heck out of it. When your prospects realize that you're "the industry leader" because you were featured in a trade magazine, you've backed up your claims.

2. Jargon Junkies
The characteristics. Your sentences sound like they were written by a business school graduate. For example:

  • "Our deliverable schedule will benefit the end user with a positive return on investment."
  • "We hope to build a multinational community, with particular emphasis on integrated solutions."

The challenge. Ever read a home page and still think, "What the heck do they do, anyway?" Jargon junkies slather on the business speak, hoping that the formal tone makes them seem impressive.

The fix. Fixing this is simple. The trick is to write like you'd talk to someone on the telephone. If you're offering free videoconferencing, call it "free videoconferencing," not "cost-effective visual communications for the digital age." And remember, not everyone on the Net has an advanced degree. If your site is filled with business speak, ditch it for language that your target market enjoys.

One caveat: Sometimes text has to be techie. If you're writing to engineers about a specific subject, your page will be filled with jargon. However, if you want your site to be accessible to the masses, write in a way that the masses will understand.

3. We Care, and So Should You
The characteristics. Any sentence in which the subject is "we" or is modified by "our" (i.e., when the company is talking about itself). For example:

  • "Our mission statement is to provide exceptional service through a TQM philosophy."
  • "Our 200,000-square-foot office building is stacked with the latest in state-of-the-art technology."

The challenge. Have you ever gone on a date with a person who talked about "how great I am" the entire time? Did you keep thinking, "How annoying"? It's the same with Web sites: If you want to talk about how cool you are, you have to clearly demonstrate how your coolness benefits your audience.

The fix. First determine if the information you're including is really of value to your audience. If you can discover a benefit in your statement, make sure you clearly include it. That is, you could say that your 200,000-square-foot office building with state-of the-art equipment guarantees that orders are shipped the same day. Or, your dedication to exceptional customer service means that customers always experience success -- or they get their money back.

However, if you're just tossing about building statistics and words without including customer benefits, get rid of them. Your customers don't want to know about you -- they want to know how you can help them.

4. Feature-Rama
The characteristics. Your sentence tells what something is -- instead of what it does. For example:

  • "We stock products from X, Y, and Z company."
  • "Product X comes with features A, B, and C (i.e., any statement with a list of features, but no benefits)."

The challenge. Sure, you want to tout your product's features. After all, it's not everyone who offers a double-copper design or an ergonomic format. But a dirt-dull product listing will not make prospects want to buy from you -- benefits are what sell.

The fix. Remember that prospects need to know the benefits of what they're buying -- and you can't assume they'll make the leap from reading a feature list. Web reading is quick scan and instant gratification, so if they don't clearly understand what your double-copper design does for them, you've lost your audience.

If your product or service will save your prospects time -- or make them happier, wealthier, sexier, or wiser -- make sure that benefit is clearly stated. From there, a simple sales-closing link from your benefits page to your "order" or "contact us" page will help your prospects to act immediately -- and thus you will close your sales faster.

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