What’s Under the Hood of Your Web Copy?

We’re used to seeing articles telling us the top ten action words to use if you want to convert readers into customers. You’ll find lots of content out there telling you to use bullet points, short sentences, storytelling.

You’ll find those articles right here on Men with Pens, actually. It’s good advice. We use it in our work all the time.

That’s just the basics, though. There’s a lot more to writing web copy than that – and you’ll learn it from cars.

Inside and Out

When you buy a new car, you want the car manufacturer to know about everything that goes under the hood. You want that engine put together properly.

But the car isn’t just its engine. It’s also the exterior. This is why soccer moms drive mini-vans. It’s why people who live in the mountains drive sport utility vehicles, and it’s why single-car parenting households get station wagons. It’s why the successful executive contacts a dealer in England for the Aston Martin that Bond drove.

All these cars have the same basic components under the hood. They all have a battery, an alternator, spark plugs and pistons. Of varying quality, true, but an engine is more or less an engine.

These cars all say something different about their drivers, though. They tell the world who’s behind the wheel. And that’s what your web copy needs to do for your client.

Don’t neglect the basics of what goes under the hood of your web copy, of course. Not by any means. Copywriting basics are extremely necessary, and how well you execute them dictates how well your copy sells – how well the engine runs, if you will.

But the voice of the web copy you’re writing dictates whether you’ve accurately portrayed the person behind the wheel – the business and its brand.

What Car Does Your Client Drive?

If you write web copy that speaks of being good in sales but sounds like it comes from a casual, laid-back stay-at-home mom, your client won’t be pleased if she’s actually a businesswoman who wears upscale clothes to impress clients at high-profile meetings every day at her downtown office.

You haven’t accurately represented the person behind the wheel.

That means the people reading your web copy have an inaccurate impression of the business they’re dealing with or buying from. You might still make the sale for your client, but the buyer will be deeply disappointed when he actually interacts with your client and finds out she’s not at all what he expected.

You may have just lost that new customer for your client, even though your web copy ran just fine under the hood.

Your clients want new customers who are going to be loyal, who are going to come back again to buy, who are going to refer their friends. This only happens if their customers feel they know who they’re dealing with and love their business for what it is.

Portray it as something else, and those customers won’t stick around.

It’s kind of like matching up a Mercedes engine with a Toyota Corolla’s exterior. You could find people who would be thrilled to own either of those cars, but you won’t find people who are looking for both of them.

And even if your Toyota owner is kind of psyched about finding out he has a super-charged engine, it’s still going to confuse the hell out of him.

Confused clients don’t come back. Because they won’t know what they’ll get next time. That means they don’t trust your web copy, and they won’t trust your client twice.

So when you write for clients, write to tell their buyers what they’re getting – inside and out.

Want to learn how to write better copy? We recommend Web Copy that Sells by Maria Veloso. Plenty of nuts and bolts in there – all you have to do is supply the shiny exterior.

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.