Let’s get the bad news out of the way first.
There are many, many, many places online a person with some disposable cash and a hankering to buy original art or photography can shop.
And because there’s so much competition, if you’re just starting out online or not a known entity in your niche yet, it’s going to be challenging to make sales from your website.
This is why it’s so important to take advantage of the power of language to set yourself apart, attract your ideal buyers, and delight them once they find your online home.
The Problem with Most Art and Photography Websites
Many artists and photographers make the grave mistake of assuming their gorgeous images will speak for themselves to sell the work, imagining that once a potential buyer sees the talent evident in the online portfolio or gallery, they’ll be eager to reach out for more information about a particular piece, or better yet, make a purchase right then and there.
Unless you’ve had some prior contact with the potential buyer and they’re coming to your website after meeting you at an opening or a show, this rarely happens.
The “build it and they will come” approach simply does not work online, where you’re competing with dozens, if not hundreds or even thousands, of other artists and photographers. While having a web presence and an online gallery is a great first step, it’s not enough.
Since your potential buyers can easily find many other talented artists whose work is just as stunning as yours with a simple Google search, you’re going to have to show them more than your gorgeous portfolio to get them interested in buying from you.
There are many ways to do this with your website copy, but I believe there is one web copy tweak above all others that will help you truly connect with your ideal buyers, and in turn, make more sales.
Client-Focused Web Copy
As I pointed out previously on the ASF blog in 3 Effective Copywriting Hacks Artists Can Use to Sell More Art Online, one of the simplest website copy tweaks you can implement to start bonding with your ideal buyers is the use of client-focused web copy.
Client-focused web copy – and by copy, we mean all the content, the actual text on your website – is copy that connects with the web visitor/potential buyer and speaks to what’s important to them as a likely buyer, as opposed to using company-centric copy that focuses mostly on the business, i.e., with language like “our goal,” “we have,” “we specialize in,” etc.
When people land on your website, they want to find out if you have what they’re looking for; they care about that a lot more than they care about what your goals or specializations are.
They’re seeking the answer to the question, “WIIFM?,” meaning, “What’s in it for me?”
Building the Foundation: How to Create Compelling Client-Focused Web Copy
To create persuasive web copy that effectively sells your work, you have to get the foundation in place first. This is critical work that if left undone will create a lot of frustration, wheel-spinning, wasted time, and in many cases, will attract challenging clients that shop based on price alone.
But if you do the foundational work first, creating compelling web copy for every page on your site becomes much easier.
This foundational work consists of:
- Figuring out who your ideal clients and collectors are so you can speak directly to them with a targeted and persuasive marketing message
- Determining what makes your work, your process, or the way you do business different, better, more special, or more compelling to these ideal buyers than others who do what you do, also known as your unique selling proposition, or points of differentiation
I cannot stress enough how important these two steps are to creating the kind of web copy that attracts and engages your target audience.
Defining Your Ideal Collector or Buyer
This is the fun stuff – where you get to dream up exactly the kind of buyer who would be perfect for your work and who you’d love to have as a collector.
How do you do this?
Think about your favorite buyers /collectors, those who have bought your work in the past and loved it. What do these buyers have in common? Maybe they’re easy to work with, don’t haggle about price, and collect exactly the kind of art you create. Perhaps they’re retired, have disposable income, and love to travel.
That’s a start, but we need to go deeper than this.
If you want your website content to grab people by the lapels and make them excited they’ve found you, you need to demonstrate that you understand them well, and that you know their desires and challenges as it relates to what you sell. This kind of core understanding builds trust, and trust results in more sales.
So you start with the basic information you know about your ideal buyers/collectors, and begin digging really deep to figure out everything else you can about them – their deepest desires and fears, what keeps them up at night, their core beliefs, what frightens and excites them, what encourages and inspires them, and so on. It’s about human behavior and psychology – you’ve got to understand your customers on this core level to create the kind of web copy that converts.
Where to Find This Information
The very best way to get to the core of what your ideal clients really want when they’re thinking of buying the kind of art or photography you sell – not what you think they want, but what they actually want, in their own words – is to simply ask them.
But don’t just ask one or two people, ask several; heck, ask as many as you possibly can, because this will help you create authentic, compelling web copy and other marketing collateral that nets you ideal clients and collectors instead of duds.
If you don’t yet have clients in the target audience you want to serve, then find friends, family members and acquaintances who are representative of your ideal clients, and talk to them about their frustrations and fears related to buying the kind of art you sell.
This is what I did. I knew I wanted to serve creative entrepreneurs – solopreneurs, small businesses, and other creatives who sell a creative product or service – but my copywriting clients were in the healthcare and real estate niches. So I talked to friends with small creative businesses; I also asked business owners in my target audience who I know from a networking group I belong to if I could buy them coffee and ask them a few questions.
Then I sent an email to the creative business builders on my newsletter list and offered them a free 20 minute web marketing strategy session in exchange for filling out a questionnaire about my their fears, needs, and desires related to marketing and copywriting.
You can also review comments on blogs in your niche and forums that serve your target audience; conduct Amazon research and keyword research, and do lots of social media “listening” – on Facebook pages that serve a similar audience and through Twitter searches.
What you want to look for is how people describe their challenges around collecting and buying the kind of art you create – you’re looking for the exact language your ideal clients or collectors use to describe their frustrations and desires, which you then mirror back to them in your content.
For example, when I was doing research on photographers, one phrase I heard some variation of over and over again was, “my sad, lifeless portfolio site” – meaning these photographers may have a gorgeous website, but it’s not converting web visitors into client inquiries or paying clients – that’s the pain or frustration.
So I use that exact phrase in my web copy when I’m describing the kind of challenges photographers have that I can help them with. You want to go really deep here and put yourself in your customers’ shoes and see their frustrations through their eyes.
The bottom line is, if you haven’t defined your ideal buyer/collector/target audience, then you’re trying to talk to “everybody” with your web content – which means it’s most likely bland and boring and homogenous. And that means that as well-written as it may be, it won’t convert the web visitors who might be ideal for your work into your dream collectors, because bland and boring does not convert.
How to Uncover Your Unique Selling Proposition
Once you’ve determined who your ideal clients/collectors are and what they really want, you can begin to work out what your unique selling proposition is.
Don’t’ worry, this doesn’t have to be too difficult.
Your USP is simply the collection of factors unique to you and your business that compel your ideal buyers to choose you over someone else who offers something similar. In fact, who you serve – your ICA or “ideal client avatar” – can be part of your unique selling proposition.
The benefit of a well-defined USP is that you’ll begin to connect with and convert your ideal buyers and collectors, instead of ending up with the ones who make you want to plunge daggers into your eyes. Because when a potential ideal customer/collector lands on your website and sees it’s not like the hundreds of other art or photography sites they found when they were Googling that thing you do, they will stop and take notice, instead of trucking right on past your website never to return.
Here’s a great quote that sums up the importance of differentiation:
“In the absence of a meaningful difference, the cheapest brand may be regarded as the best choice. Lack of differentiation turns brands into commodities and marketing messages into white noise. But a meaningful difference can spark consumer interest and fuel demand for a brand, even when that brand carries a significant price premium.” –Nigel Hollis
Some examples of effective differentiation and the premium pricing that goes along with it are Apple, Harley Davidson, and designer Tory Burch, to name just three. You could buy a computer or a motorcycle or clothes much more cheaply from lots of other companies, but the cache attached to these three brands because of their position and differentiation in the marketplace makes their ideal customers insanely eager to pay premium prices for them. Heck, they even line up around city blocks for hours, just for the privilege of paying premium prices, in the case of Apple.
What that means for you is, if you dig deep and figure out what makes you and the work you do, and the service you provide to your buyers and collectors different and better, and you convey that in everything you do across all the touch-points of your business, you will attract customers who are happy to pay what you ask, without the bargain-hunting drama.
Like the process of defining your ideal client, determining your USP and applying it is also an iterative process. You’ll refine as you get feedback and results, so don’t worry that you need to have every detail figured out before you begin implementing your points of differentiation into your business.
Among the collection of factors unique to you and your business that make up your USP and compel your ideal buyers to choose you over someone else who offers something similar are:
- The kind of customers & collectors you serve
- How you work with collectors/your process, etc.
- Your backstory or company founder story
- A collection of stories that help your ideal customers relate to you
- The kind of content you provide (Or even that you provide it). If others in your niche are not providing content at all – and many artists aren’t – then be the one who does.
- Your “WHY.” Your big “why” – your goals, your vision, your big idea, what you stand for, why you do the work you do and work with the kind of buyers you work with. This can be overtly stated on your website or it can be more subtle. And like no one has the same backstory as you do, no one else will have exactly the same “why” either.
- Your Community. Think of ways you can build a sense of “people like us,” of belonging, of membership, etc., into your business.
It’s not necessary to differentiate in all the categories above to be successful. In fact, choosing 2, maybe 3, and really nailing them can work like gangbusters. If you’re just getting started, choose one of these methods of differentiation and start implementing it into your business, then gauge the results.
Like one of my favorite marketers, Derek Halpern, says, “It’s not about finding unique ingredients, it’s about finding a unique recipe.” For example, none of the things I do as a copywriter and marketer are unique in and of themselves, but the combination is. So if you’re struggling to figure out how you can set yourself apart in your market, let finding a unique “recipe” be your guide.
When you understand who your ideal clients and collectors are, and your unique selling proposition or points of differentiation, you’ll be able to create web content, blog posts, email newsletters, and other content that speaks directly to their most pressing concerns and deepest desires in a way that connects with them in a real and compelling way.
The kind of web copy and marketing that’s a natural by-product of this work makes your clients and customers feel deeply understood. This is very powerful – for you and for them. Everybody wins.
And once you’ve knocked out this very important foundational work, you’re ready to implement what you’ve discovered about your ideal customers and your USP to create compelling client-focused copy on your web site.
I would start with the Home page and the About page first, because those are the two most visited pages on most websites.
Remember, the majority of the copy on your website needs to be client/collector-focused. It’s less about you and more about your potential buyers’ wants, needs, and desires.
I know this was a
lot to take in, so here are the steps again, simplified:
Figure out who your ideal clients and collectors are and what they desire
Determine your unique selling proposition
Use this information to create compelling client-focused web copy that speaks to your ideal clients/collectors wants, needs and desires, starting with the Home page and About page on your website
And there you have it – the simple website copy tweak that will win you more clients: client-focused web copy.