Last year I attended the Spark Conference in Arizona. It’s an event hosted by Showit, primarily for designers who use their platform to create sites for clients in creative and coaching fields.
Two weeks ago, I shared my go-to question when attending industry events:
“What’s the biggest challenge you’re facing in your business right now?”
I was at Spark by myself for three days, so I had lots of opportunities to ask this question over coffee, at lunches, during networking events, and as we waited for the next session to start.
Want to know what was the most common response?
“Finding great copywriters.”
While I was sad to hear so many website designers were struggling to find reliable, effective copywriting for their projects, I was happy to know we’d carved out a viable niche for many years to come.
At this particular conference, I added a second question, because I was very very curious to hear what all these designers would say:
“Which comes first: Design or copy?”
Guess what they all said?
Every. Single. One.
If I was savvy at social media, I’d’ve got them on video saying this and then stitched it together in a TikTok or Reel. Can you imagine 50 site designers saying “copy copy copy copy copy” in split-second cuts? Next time…
The irony is that nearly every wedding pro we talk to about their site says they thought design came first, then copy.
It’s ironic, but not “funny,” because so much time, energy, and money is wasted (and stress created) by starting with site design and then adding in copywriting.
Your website is a store
Let’s use a metaphor to talk about why copy comes first.
Your website is your online store, right? So let’s look at it like a brick-and-mortar store.
And to create an even better understanding of the proper order for building a store, I’m going to include brand strategy in the conversation.
Brand strategy is like the foundation for a building. If copy is the frame/walls, and design is the décor, you have to start with the foundation.
Building a website without a solid brand strategy is like building a store directly on the dirt.
It might look good from the outside, but eventually it’ll fall over because of all the soft spots and holes underneath it.
What is a brand strategy?
A solid brand strategy answers:
Who are your ideal clients? What functional and emotional needs do they have?
What services do you offer to meet those needs? How do you message those needs?
How do you communicate your solutions to client needs? What voice?
Who are your competitors? How do you differentiate from them?
Why do you do what you do? What values do you want to be known for?
It gives you the blueprint for what to say. What does the reader want, and how will they use it to make their lives better and happier and more fulfilled.
The copywriting on your site is how you say it. How do you tell the story your ideal client needs to hear in order to get interested? Learn what you do and how it helps them? Connect enough to trust you? Feel reassured that you’re an expert?
How copy is structured changes based on your ideal client
Like the walls in an actual store, there are certain best-practices to follow when writing copy. The structure the site takes is largely determined by how the words are wire-framed for the site.
What I learned at Spark is that (most) designers are like interior decorators, not architects. They need the space defined before they get too far into the design process. It ensures the project meets not just the users’ aesthetic interests, but also their functional needs.
As copywriters we know how hard it is to write a site that boxes in the story your brand needs to share – and in a way that works for your ideal client.
Some buyer types, like Dreamers, don’t want a lot of words. Others, like Analyzers, want a ton.
Some buyer types (Bosses) get straight to the point very quickly. Others (Relaters) want a step-by-step to feel comfortable moving forward to the next step (to inquire).
Some buyer types focus on headlines and crossheads (Dreamers and Bosses), while others are good with blocks of text (Analyzers).
Some buyer types need a robust About page (Relaters), while others want to know more information on the Services page (Analyzers).
And so on. Etc. You get the idea…
In many ways, a good copywriter – at least the way we do copy at Ideaction – is the architect that designs the store based on the perfect buyer identified in the brand strategy.
And the best copywriters – and how we approach it at Ideaction – work collaboratively with the site designer to create something that works for both function and form.
Where does that leave store design?
Once you know what the store layout is like it’s time to design around it. And on it. And inside it.
That, my friends, is when you make aesthetic decisions.
Just as you wouldn’t buy the carpet and paint and tile before you knew what the measurements were for the store rooms, you should wait to finalize any design for your website till you know for sure what it’s going to look like based on function.
The most successful sites start from the ground up:
Foundation (brand strategy)
Décor (design/brand identity)
If you’re ready to start building yours, let’s get going on your brand strategy and copywriting. Most projects take two months to get started, and we’re 4-6 weeks out from beginning new sites, so reach out to find out more.
Even if it’s not something you plan on getting going right away, it’s good to know what the next step is when you are ready to begin.
Did you find that interesting?
Here are three more myths I’m going to bust for you…
#1 – All copywriting is the same
Copywriting is like screenwriting for a movie. You’ll find a variety of genres with proven formulas for each kind of script.
In the copy world, we use “conversion copywriting,” which is a type of persuasive writing intended to get the reader to take action. In our case, we want the website visitor to inquire. Or proposal reader to accept one of the options. Or person who inquires and receives a landing page to set up a discovery call.
We picked this style of writing because most copywriters in the wedding world come from an editorial background, or love to write creatively. These are well and good – for what they intend to accomplish.
But our entire team of website copywriters at Ideaction is laser-focused on supporting the sales process with more qualified inquiries who already see the value in what you’re selling.
#2 – Blogging is dead
Bad blogs are boring. Bad blogs don’t attract new visitors to your site. Bad blogs give good blogs a bad name.
Blog posts are the answers to your clients’ most important questions. In essence, a good blog is an elaborative FAQ funneled and fed by search engines.
Not only do you get more visitors to your site with a great blog, but you can use the posts as value-building content to share during the sales process.
Send out links to posts that answer questions or help couples move forward faster in the buyer’s journey.
#3 – Make big changes based on peer or planner reviews
We love planners. And we love your industry friends. But we also think it’s best to make decisions for your business based on experts in their fields.
Planners plan. Photographers photograph. Stationers…station?
Would you ask a copywriter to take photos at a wedding? Or a site designer to plan one?
But seriously, if your website is your online store, why ask a layperson to inspect the engineering if they’re not trained to do so?
Ask experts to weigh in.
(We’re currently offering a half-off website review for only $147.50 right now if you want expert eyes on your site.)
The other problem with asking peers or planners for feedback on your site is that they’re not your ideal client. They aren’t interested in or intent on buying your services!
It’s much better to ask your favorite past and current clients for feedback on your website. Send it out to 10 couples you love and ask for their help. Most will give it to you – and input from one ideal client is better than what you hear from 10 planners or peers.
More myths busted on the podcast this week
Interested in hearing more myths running rampant?
Tune into this week’s episode of Own Your Business podcast, where Katy, my wife and our head copywriter, chat for a few about what would happen if we could wave a magic wand over the wedding industry.