Writing Website Copy That Speaks To Your Ideal Client
You know that having a website is important to building a private practice, and maybe you’ve gotten your domain name, chosen a website design platform, and you’re ready to go….but what exactly are you supposed to write? If you want to attract your ideal clients, you need to write copy that speaks directly to them, and today’s post is all about how.
First Things First: What Not To Do
Here’s an example of copy that is not very effective, that you might see on a therapist’s website:
So what makes this therapist’s page not-so-effective?
There are a lot of “I statements” here. As therapists we love “I statements” when it comes to talking about feelings in a session, but they are not-so-great when you are trying to reach a client through your website. Your client is in some sort of pain, and wants to know that you get their pain, and that you can help them with it. That is the most important thing.
Listings of accolades and acronyms are not of primary interest to potential clients. Some clients might care where you went to school or whether you’ve won awards, but most do not. If you want to attract clients that care about those things, go forth and list away, but I know I for one probably would not be super psyched to work with a client who cared a lot about where I got my degree, just saying.
Certainly many would-be clients are therapy-savvy, and do search for specific treatment types these days, so it can be worth listing them somewhere, but I’d do it sparingly. Maybe list them somewhere else besides your home page so as not to clutter your overall message. The vast majority of clients looking at your site aren’t going to focus on the acronyms, and may not know what they mean anyhow.
Use of clinical jargon and diagnostic language instead of using the words that your would-be client might use to describe the reason are looking for treatment. Some clients might be searching for treatment for a specific diagnosis, but for most people, a diagnosis is not the thing that’s keeping them up at night and prompting them to seek treatment. They want to know if they can come to you in a difficult moment of their lives, and that you can provide safety and guidance. Using words that they might use to describe the problem they are having conveys an understanding, while a DSM diagnosis does not.
Nothing turns people off like typos! We are human, it happens, but do your best to avoid them. If you want more info dealing with typos, and other things that might turn people off on your website, check out this post.
Here’s that same therapist’s website, but with copy that is client-centered:
What makes this page more effective?
It attempts to speak to the client’s experience in a nuanced way that is about behaviors and internal experiences, not about clinical terms. So rather than “do you suffer from anxiety?” It’s “do worries keep you up at night?” and “do you avoid things because you are too anxious?”
It conveys a sense of competence without a listing of accomplishments.
It’s not too wordy.
It speaks to the outcome that this therapist’s client might be looking for-getting back a sense of connection and vitality.
There’s a “call to action” at the end, as well as a clear offer (aka a free 15-minute phone consult).
Is this example perfect and does it encapsulate what is right for every therapist and everything you should have on your page? Nope, of course not. But hopefully it does illustrate, in broad strokes, the tone you want to aim for, and some pitfalls to try to avoid.
OK, so now what do you do? Read on for the writing exercise I use to help come up with copy that speaks to my ideal clients!
Ideal Client Writing Exercise
This is kind of like a free association exercise, so there’s no right or wrong answers here. Grab a pen and paper (or type if you prefer), and I want you to think about the following, and jot down some notes as you go:
Bring to mind a client (current or past) that you loved working with.
Think about aspects of their general demographics (age, gender, sexual orientation, relationship status, occupation, etc.). Did any of these demographics hold something appealing to you, or bring something interesting to the work?
What would they say about the reasons they were coming to therapy? NOT YOUR CLINICAL ASSESSMENT, but their actual words. For example, they probably wouldn’t say “my partner has an avoidant attachment style”, they would probably say something like “my partner and I are having communication issues”.
What would they say about what they were looking for from a therapist? What would they say about what they like about your work together?
What would they say you were able to help them with? Again, not your clinical assessment, but in their own words.
After you’ve done this exercise one time, you can go ahead and do it once or twice more with different clients that you’ve enjoyed.
Then, take a look at what you’ve got. Are there any themes that are sticking out? Start to pull those themes out if you see them, as they will help inform your writing.
Use what you have to create clear, concise copy that is about your client and how you can help them-not about you and your accomplishments.
All of this said, remember, a website can be (and ultimately should be) an evolving entity. It doesn’t need to be perfect. You can always edit it, add to it, change it-whatever you need to do. Don’t let perfection get in the way of good enough! And if you want more personalized help with creating your website, as always, feel free to get in touch with me, I’d be happy to help!