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Case Study: Let's Teardown a Headline!

Rewriting an intro to make sure it's really saying the right things.

*laughs* "....we should write that in there shouldn't we..." - Bram Kanstein, co-founder of Off The Record

I had a mini-teardown session with Bram Kanstein, co-founder of Off The Record. This is a look at my favourite part where we rebuilt his subheading to better identify his customers and more accurately describe what they offer.

Of course, Bram is kick-ass when it comes to business strategy and tactics, but web copy is a whole different skill set. We therefore talked it through over Skype to help ensure his site was saying the right things. 

Starting With First Impressions

Below you'll see a screenshot of the home page as it stood, or at least as much as I could see without scrolling (aka 'above the fold').

An attractive site is great, but an attractive site with powerful words is even better.

What was the first bit you naturally read? My bet is it was the 'we help startups...' subheading. A heading can make-or-break a website. After all, if the visitor's interest isn't captured then they won't continue reading, and so the best copy in the world on the rest of your site suddenly becomes redundant. 

Clarifying 'We Help Startups'

The 80/20 rule rule for copywriting suggests that you should spend 80% of your time on your headings, and this is why it was the focus of our teardown. Our conversation started roughly as follows, refining the described customer type:

[Me] "So, let's look at the start of your subhead. Can you please describe your ideal client to me?"

[Bram] "Well, we primarily help out early web-tech startups"

[Me] "Great answer. However, you currently only say 'we help startups'. Can you guess what I'll say next?"

[Bram] *laughs* "...we should write that in there shouldn't we"

[Me] "Exactly. Starting with 'we help early web-tech startups do something something' is much more compelling for visitors who fit that description."

"This is great, I like the way you think" - Bram Keinstein, co-founder of Off The Record

As a general rule, if you know which visitors you can help, go ahead and tell them! That way you'll prompt an 'oh! that's me!' feeling.

De-vague-ifying 'Build, Launch and Grow'

With this done, it was time to look at their 'build, launch and and grow' offering.

[Me] "Ok, now your challenge is to describe what your business does in a jargon-free way".

...Bram and I then spend a few minutes discussing what he does for clients...

[Me] "Great, I think I'm with you. None of that sounding like 'building' things though".

[Bram] *sigh* ""

[Me] "Would it be more accurate to say something around helping startups with their business growth strategies and tactics?"

[Bram] "Yeah, that's much closer. I'll try and refine that further."

The Before-And-After

So now we've gone from

   'We help startups build, launch and grow their product'

To something like

  'We help early web-tech startups plan their business growth strategies and tactics'


We help early web-tech startups plan their business growth strategies and tactics

To me, that almost doesn't sound like the same company! This is so much more specific in both who it's for and what they offer, creating a far more compelling start to their website.

I hope you see how much difference pulling out the right words makes. If you too want my help creating a website that draws in your ideal visitors, please get in touch via the contact form. I offer various packages, including free mini-teardows like this one.

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