TOC #71: Anticipating Your Readers' Needs
(May 3, 2022) And how it leads to a better user experience
POV: It's Fourth of July weekend on Cape Cod, and you & your friends are lucky enough to be staying at the beautiful Chatham Bars Inn Resort and Spa, taking advantage of allll the luxurious amenities for your first-ever visit to New England in the Summer.
You just got back from a day trip to P-Town using one of the Inn's on-site Lexus convertible rentals, and now you're headed to the spa for a quick 30-minute massage before spending the last few hours of daylight at the pool cabana you've rented for the week.
While you wait for your best friend to get back from the gift shop, you decide to go to the concierge desk to confirm tomorrow's private whale watch charter on one of the Inn's six boats.
The young woman in the navy striped shirt proves to be very helpful, so you decide to ask her recommendation for the best lobster roll on Cape. You've never had one, and you know it's a must-try before vacation is over.
With a smile, she tells you that a popular bayside restaurant, Sesuit Harbor Cafe, is where you'll find both the best lobster rolls and the best oceanside views.
She she also tells you that…
The restaurant is BYOB, and lots of people also bring table cloths, wine glasses, and cheese + crackers.
It's a 25ish minute drive from the Inn, depending on whether you take Route 28 or 6A.
The dress code is extremely casual.
It's an order-at-the-counter, outdoor-seating-only type of place.
You'll need cash, but they have an ATM inside.
The waitresses scream out the number on your receipt, so you'll need to keep it.
The line will be 4 miles long by 5pm sharp.
…but there's a raw bar with a wicked short line, if you want an appetizer while you wait (she recommends the clam chowder and the clams casino).
Then she recommends going to The Smuggler for ice cream after, and walking along the jetty of Cold Storage Beach at sunset.
As you're thanking the concierge, amazed at how thorough she was—it's like she answered all of your questions before you could even ask!—your friend comes back from the gift shop, freshly outfitted in a Vineyard Vines Shep shirt, asking if you're ready to go.
Definitely, you say. I know exactly what we're doing tonight, thanks to the concierge being a mind reader!
How To Anticipate Your Readers' Needs For A Better User Experience
Throughout the 5-day intensive luxury Forbes Travel Guide training I attended during my time as a concierge at CBI, they drilled two very important things into our heads:
1) The guests come first, no matter what.
2) Be anticipatory.
Every guest got a VIP treatment, and every staff member had to be 5 steps ahead of them.
Think of it like this:
If you give a mouse a cookie, he's going to ask for a glass of milk.
If a guest wants the best lobster roll, he's going to ask where the restaurant is, if he needs a reservation, what he should wear, if he needs cash, how long it'll take to get there, where he should go for dessert after…
If a potential client interested in your services browses your website, they're gonna want the details.
They'll want to know what you can do for them.
And what's included in your packages.
And what your process is like.
And how much of an investment they need to plan for.
And how far out you're currently booking.
And what's needed from them to get started.
& your job as the concierge of your website is to not even give them a chance to ask those questions, because you've taken care of it already.
If that person had come to my concierge desk asking for the best lobster roll on Cape Cod and I said “Sesuit Habor Cafe"—end of sentence—the above story would've ended with a confused, disgruntled guest, with so many unanswered questions, some of which being questions they didn't even know they should be asking.
They wouldn't have thought to ask about the long line, or whether the seating was only outdoor, or if they'd need to pay in cash.
…just like your readers might not know to ask about the details of your unique process, or what makes your packages better than your competitors', or the extra-special pizzazz that you bring to the table.
To create the best possible user experience, you have to be 5 steps ahead, explicitly TELL them what to do next, and make the benefits of working with you exponentially clear.
So, when you're drafting your website copy, think about these 4 things…
>> If I tell them _______, what would they need to know/want to ask immediately after?
>> What's going to convince them to work with me, and have I done a good job of explaining that benefit/solution?
>> What have past clients asked me on discovery calls or kickoff calls that I could potentially include details about on my website, to minimize questions from leads?
If your website's homepage is the cookie, and your readers are the mouse… what will they want next? And after that? And after that?
YOUR HOMEWORK: Write your own If You Give A Mouse A Cookie. I'll Start.
If You Give A Potential Client A Copywriter's Website…
They're gonna want to know if you'll be able to write in their voice.
Then they'll ask for proof, and to see your portfolio.
Then they'll want to know if your words will incorporate SEO best practices.
Then they'll want to know how you do it.
Then they'll want to know how soon they can work with you.
Then they'll want to know your prices, and if you have payment plans.
…among LOTS of other questions that your website copy should answer.
Your turn! Draft it like your luxury hotel's Five-Star designation depends on it.
(Because it does. But, don't worry, Summer 2018 Concierge Sara passed her undercover Forbes audit with flying colors. And then that Forbes auditor became BTL's first client a year later. Maybe I should tell that story soon…)
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