Last week my daughter showed me a very funny Peter Kay clip. In it he jokes about having to resort to the “emergency chairs” when having Sunday Dinner at his mother's house.
It reminded me of Christmases when I was growing up. I'm the youngest in a big family, so I was usually the one sent off to find anything remotely resembling a chair so we could all sit and eat Christmas dinner together. I ended up sitting on anything from a deckchair to a high stool, or even the occasional beanbag.
The first time I watched the clip, I laughed uncontrollably. That rare, primeval laugh you do when a particular memory resurfaces. Kay's delivery plays a big part obviously, but his real skill is knowing what stories people will relate to and the reaction these will trigger.
Hold on a second, what's this got to do with web stuff?
Steady on, I'm coming to that!
Running a successful website isn't just about Google rankings and traffic volumes. In fact, there's no point having a website at all if it doesn't connect with the customers you're trying to attract.
To generate more online enquiries or sales, you need to show visitors that you understand their fears and challenges, and can offer a solution to put things right. Human nature is such that we feel more at ease with people that seem to ‘understand' us, or have common interests. And, as studies have shown, businesses that connect with their customers on an emotional level, are far more likely to be successful than those that don't.
Peter Kay knows how to connect with his audience. He has an acute sense of the emotions and psyche he has to tap into. And the more the audience relates to Kay's stories, the stronger the (laughter) reaction will be. The best web copywriters use similar techniques to engage and connect with readers, in the hope it will generate more business.
You talking to me?
A few days ago, my car failed its NCT (no, this isn't the first line of a joke!). I must confess, I'm not mechanically-minded, so I don't enjoy taking my car to the garage. I'm not sure why this is, but maybe my lack of knowledge makes me feel vulnerable. I worry mechanics will sniff out my ‘ignorance' and exploit it by charging me over the odds. While my fears may be unfounded, if you run a garage and are trying to win my business, then my perception is what counts.
So, anyway, I found the website of a garage nearby, and read through their “services” page. Here's what it said:
Sounds harmless enough. But surely the ultimate goal of any website, whether it's a local garage or a multinational business, is to acquire new customers. In any industry there's competition. So it's crucially important to differentiate your business from your competitors so people have a compelling reason to buy from you.
The above copy could apply to any garage, anywhere in the world. So why should anyone reading it be compelled to go there, when there are so many other options available?
I'm typical of the new customers they're trying to attract. Yet they've made no effort to understand my needs, or try and pre-empt or address the concerns I might have about getting my car repaired in an unfamiliar place.
Poor copywriting is a disease
Clearly it's not just garages that suffer from this affliction. It's a disease that affects every type of business under the sun. Apart from a few rare examples, just about every website is guilty of spouting out bland, generic, beige-coloured crap that says nothing new and resonates with absolutely nobody.
Put your money where your mouth is punk!
So I asked myself, how could I apply the same technique used by Peter Kay to write better copy for a garage website? Admittedly I have the luxury of being able to make up a few facts, but the main principles still apply.
Here's my quick attempt at writing a better page. It's only a quick draft, but you'll get the picture:
I don't know, maybe I'm completely off the mark here. Perhaps you think such “woolly” sentiments have no place in deciding where to repair your car. Either way, I'd really appreciate it if you could leave a comment below or get in touch and let me know if this post struck a chord with you.