01.08.2014

Copywriting for Building Designers

Verity Campbell talks about the importance of effective copy to get the best results

These days, the first glimpse most prospective customers have of your business is through your website. It may be the first they’ve heard of your business or it may be that they’ve come to check you out after hearing about you through a friend. Either way, they’re visiting your website, your virtual shopfront. You want that first impression to be a good one.

Creating a good first impression comes down to a number of factors, but words, images and graphic design share top billing in terms of importance.

In this article I want to talk about your website’s words, its copy. I want you to think about whether your copy is doing what it needs to do, creating a positive first impression of your business and fulfilling its key objective to “convert prospects”, to get them to pick up the phone and make that first meeting.

Copy needs to be effective to give the best results. So what is “effective” copy and how can you write it?

Effective copy:

  • asserts your value proposition (your benefits to customers and how you’re differentiated from your competitors);
  • delivers your key messages,
  • achieves its purpose – to entertain, instruct, inform and/or persuade.

To create it, you need to understand your business’s key messages and value proposition. You need to have a goal, a purpose, for each piece of copy.

Here’s an example. It’s a photo caption I worked up for a client recently:

“We start all projects with what we call the ‘discovery’ phase. It helps uncover bugbears, or things our clients really care about but may not even aware of. These clients love timber – it engenders childhood memories. And it’s such a practical, durable material. We sourced these solid oak Dots coat hooks from Danish designer Lars Tornoe (larstornoe.com). They’ve become a focal point: one of the first interactions visitors have with the home through the hanging of their coat.”

To the reader it seems harmless enough, evocative even. But we spent time working on their messaging and value proposition. This copy is founded in the three tenets of effective text relevant to my client’s business:

It tells clients you listen:

“We start all projects with what we call the ‘discovery’ phase. It helps uncover bugbears, or things our clients really care about but may not even aware of.”

It tells clients you can help them with their thinking, that you’re insightful:

“things our clients really care about but may not even aware of…”

It tells clients you’re empathetic – that you understand, validate and respect the stories that make us who we are:

“These clients love timber – it engenders childhood memories…”

It tells clients you have professional smarts. You’re knowledgeable about the materials you specify:

“And it’s such a practical, durable material.”

It tells clients that you’re resourceful. You find what you need – anywhere in the world:

“We sourced these solid oak Dots coat hooks from Danish designer Lars Tornoe.”

It tells clients that you understand the importance of social approval:

“They’ve become a focal point: one of the first interactions visitors have with the home through the hanging of their coat.”

It tells clients that you are considered designers. You understand the importance of detail in the greater story:

“They’ve become a focal point: one of the first interactions visitors have with the home through the hanging of their coat.”

Wow. Those are 80 hard-working words!

Every image caption, project description, or “About Us” can support your business objectives and help grow your business, or not. Don’t spoil these opportunities with mediocre copy. Spend time working out what makes your business, your offer unique – do the ground work – and your copy, the way you articulate your business offer, will be better, more purposeful and more successful in getting new customers to pick up the phone.

Contact Verity if you’d like to wordsmith your copy.

Writing, marketing and communications for design businesses. Join Verity Campbell’s weekly newsletter for new ideas, tips and advice for your building design practice. Sign up at www.veritycampbell.com.au/newsletter

Verity Campbell Communications: www.veritycampbell.com.au