Why Clear Beats Clever in Your Brand Messaging

How to make sure people understand what you do—AND want to book you—with your website copy.

“Okay. Seriously. What the what is going on here?” 

Scrolling. Scrolling. Scrolling. 

It was my second time cruising through the homepage from top to bottom and I still couldn’t figure out where to sign up for grocery delivery. It was 2:30 in the afternoon and nearly pre-school pick-up time. I wasn’t about to spend another second figuring this out (confession: listening to the latest episode of Unlocking Us while waiting in the pick-up line is a highlight of my day) so I bounced. 

The worst part is, this company came highly recommended to me by a friend. By the time I landed on their website, I was literally credit card in hand. Just take my AMEX and give me groceries and same-day delivery in exchange, okay? Please thanks.

I was ready to throw money their way but they lost my business because of one big mistake:

They weren’t crystal clear about what it is they offer, what their process is and how I could take the next step with them. 

I’d spent nearly two full minutes trying to figure out how this service worked — did they deliver to my area? What was the membership fee? How could I sign up?– and instead got lots of pretty pictures and vague (and totally useless) information about their backstory and mission statement. 

Here’s the thing: that two full minutes I gave is about 90 seconds more than the average person visiting your site for the first time will give you. 

Don’t waste precious time trying to be clever. 

Call me crazy but the businesses that succeed aren’t necessarily the best at what they do, but I guarantee they’re better than their competitors at clearly communicating their message. 

Case in point: even though I was ready to buy from the first grocery delivery company, I went with a competitor that I found (thanks, Google!). 

Why? Because the second I went to their website I knew right away that they could solve my problem (busy working parents with small kids at home needing something in the house other than apple sauce pouches) and how to get started (click here to sign up!)

It really was that simple. 

Bottom line: you need to be smart in your business (obviously) but you don’t need to be clever in your copy or messaging. 

In fact, I’ll argue that clear beats clever every day (and twice on Sundays).

When peeps land on your website they need to instantly know just two key things:

  • Where they are – who are you? exactly what do you do/offer?
  • What they can/should do next – buy a product? book a consultation?

Once you nail those bits then you can have a little fun and get playful.

Here’s the thing: making your copy clear doesn’t mean you have to be basic. In fact, great copy that connects and converts should abso-freakin’-lutely be packed with personality. Just not at the expense of clarity. 

How can you make your messaging clear and your copy connect? 

Don’t use a $5 word when a $1 will do

It’s tempting to use overly elaborate copy but the fact is if readers get tripped up by big, fancy words they’ll instantly lose interest. And in marketing our main goal is to communicate and do it effectively the first time. So don’t say “diminutive” when “small” works just fine. 

Read every bit of copy out loud (from social media captions to your website and everything in between) – it should sound like you

This isn’t a college entrance exam. It’s not the next great American novel. When we’re writing for our business, our goal is to engage and convert and that’s a very different type of writing than the super technical stuff we learned in 9th grade. 

Read your copy out loud – does it sound like how you’d speak? Like how you’d explain your services to a friend at happy hour? 

Pro tip: one of the easiest ways to instantly improve your copy and sound more conversational is using contractions! It sounds less like a robot and more like how we actually speak, person-to-person. 

Be ruthless in cutting out fluff

There’s a saying that the job of your first line of copy is to get people to read the next line and so on. Don’t stuff your website or sales pages with details that don’t matter. If a sentence doesn’t serve a purpose or is redundant, cut it! 

Finally, craft your unique power sentence

No matter what you do or what industry you’re in, nothing helps your business more than being able to describe –in one powerful sentence– your secret sauce. Start by thinking about your ideal client and the experience/result they get from you.

Now, fill in these blanks to craft your unique power sentence:

I do ___ [this thing] for ____ [these people / type of person] so that they can ___ [see this result].

For example: 

I’m a personal chef for busy parents so they can eat well and enjoy connecting with their kids over family meals, without the stress. 

I’m a fitness trainer for moms so that they can build strength and regain energy while honoring their postpartum body.

Give yourself permission to uncomplicate your messaging. With a clear understanding of who you serve and how, you’ll not only attract the right people, you’ll get them genuinely excited to click the Book Now button.

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Want to learn even more?

Get the comprehensive guide to better copy, plus your brand voice guide and website messaging checklist with the DIY Wordsmith Kit!

Phyllis Brasenell

Phyllis is a word slinger whose super power is helping entrepreneurs use their unique message to shine bright in crowded markets. When she’s not crafting killer copy you can find her on the front porch of her 3 acres wrangling daughters, dogs and husband.

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