The copywriter’s guide to lead generation


Lead generation starts with a deceptively simple question: Who is your ideal client? If your answer is ‘everyone’, you’re doing something wrong. Just like how fishermen use different bait for different fish, your lead generation efforts need to be tailored to hook the attention of a particular type of client.

At first, it seems obvious to dispense with bait and instead use the biggest net you can find. More visitors to your website surely means more leads. Except it doesn’t. The big net might catch all kinds of fish, but in the world of lead generation, your leads need to understand why they’re there. They need to click with you. That means getting specific.

That’s why lead generation and copywriting is seldom about the numbers game. To generate leads, you need qualified traffic to meet persuasive copywriting. The more you know about your ideal clients, the easier it will be for you to create copy that is persuasive to them because it speaks to their problems. And readers who feel like their problems are being heard and addressed are more likely to engage you.

But getting specific in your lead generation campaigns is hard to do if you don’t know who your ideal client is. How do you find the needle in a haystack when you don’t know what the needle looks like? So, if you want to optimise your website for lead generation, first you need to work out whom you’re targeting. From there, you can focus on creating content that resonates with them.

Identifying your ideal client for lead generation campaigns

There are a number of starting points that make it easier to flesh out a description of your ideal client.

Starting point #1: How old would your ideal client be?

Plenty of clients come to us with a range like “25-65 years old”. That would mean that some of their ideal clients could be the parents of their other ideal clients. Generally, if we then ask the client to close their eyes and picture their ideal client walking into the room, we end up with a narrower age range. Even in the (rare) business where this is possible, 25-year-old customers will still need to be treated as a different group from their 65-year-old parents — because they might want the same thing, but they still won’t want to be talked to in the same way.

Purchasing decisions are driven by a host of personal factors, including our lived experience to our surroundings and how we view ourselves. The sum of these things is why some people buy coffee from Starbucks while others would rather, like, die. Understanding who benefits from your product or service and how they see themselves is essential to creating lead generation content that attracts them.

Starting point #2: How about getting more of what you have?

To work out your ideal client, you could spend some time analysing your existing client base. Commonalities in your clients’ gender, age, income bracket and occupation will quickly give you an idea of your ideal client profile.

Starting point #3: What are you selling that others aren’t?

When your clients decided to buy a product from you instead of your competitors, it must have been because you were able to offer something your competitors couldn’t. Maybe it was your irresistible prices or the social proof adorning your website. If you know the clincher for your ideal clients, you can work backwards from there to identify them and create lead generation tactics that will appeal to them.

Starting point #4: What’s your USP?

Your unique selling proposition (USP) doesn’t really have to be unique. You could have a quality that the competition has to but that you present differently. Or it could be something the competition hasn’t thought to talk about, so you know it’s not unique but your customers don’t.

Often what makes you different/unique is different from what you thought it is. (It can take someone external asking some “stupid” questions to bring this out.) However, when you know what makes you different, you can think about who that would appeal to. What makes you different can be fertile ground for generating leads.

For more, read our post on developing your USP and our online course on creating a perfect USP for your business.

Sanity check: Whom do you like working with?

Lastly, ask yourself whom you would like to work with. It might seem inconsequential but businesses know that clients aren’t just people who hand over money for a product and go away. If you’re going to be working with these leads over a long period, it will help if you like them.

Generating leads by fishing in the right places

Now you know who you’re targeting, you want to create content that engages your target audience, so understanding their content consumption is crucial. Are they social media users? If so, which social media do they frequent? What information do they search for? Where do they search for information? Do they usually have their noses buried in their smartphones or their laptops? Do they read newspapers? Magazines? Particular blogs?

By knowing who they are and where they are, you’ll be able to communicate your brand message to them more effectively and target your lead gen better.

Attracting your ideal client

To generate leads online, you want every aspect of your presentation to connect with that group of people — words, design, imagery… Your website should be like a magnet — attracting the right people and pushing away the wrong ones.

Keep your client profile close

Now you’ve defined your ideal client, have that profile close at hand to keep your lead generation focused on the right targets. The profile should cover the details that help you to get into your clients’ heads so you can centre your marketing content around addressing what they hope to achieve. For example, if you were a media trainer whose ideal clients were high-profile executives, a surefire way to grab their attention and have them reaching out to you would be convincing them that you’ll have them speaking like Barack Obama by their next press conference. However you vote, who wouldn’t like to have his command of the briefing room?

Lead generation is about healing pain

Dig deep into your client profile to understand your clients’ pain points. When you know what problems they face, you can attract leads with clear explanations and examples of how you solve those problems.

Problems aren’t all skin deep. The ideal clients for an artisan furniture maker aren’t looking for any old thing to rest their coffee mug. Rather than head over to the nearest IKEA, they chose to purchase a coffee table at 100 times the price. That’s because having a bespoke coffee table handcrafted by an expert craftsman speaks to a specific problem they have: looking good to their friends, feeling successful or signalling their style. Sure, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, but sometimes it’s so much more.

Your ideal clients aren’t going to buy something simply because you waxed lyrical about it on your website. They buy something because they see it as a solution to a specific problem they are facing.

You need to convince them that not only do you understand what their problems are, but that you have what they need to solve them. One of the ways you can achieve that is by delivering value to your clients with little to no risk on their end. It helps establish a foundation of trust, and offers proof to your clients that you are someone they need.

Lead magnets — High value, minimal risk

One of the ways to get closer to your ideal client is through lead magnets, usually something that can be downloaded in return for an email address. Your lead magnet needs to be a segue to the services your provide while also being valuable to the clients you want to attract. And it needs to be relevant as well as valuable. After all, it wouldn’t help your conversion rates to offer nutrition insights on a mortgage broker’s website.

Like a barter, you’re offering prospective clients useful information in return for holding their attention a little longer. You’re offering the inducement because the longer you have your clients’ attention, the more opportunities you have at converting them. And a good lead magnet uses the lead’s attention to show them you have the knowledge to help them and that you are serious about wanting to solve their problems.

Read more about why your website needs a lead magnet.

Attracting leads by taking on all the risk

The fear of regret over a bad purchase is often far more potent than the fear of missing out. Your clients need reassurance that your product will actually do what it is advertised to do, which is solve their problems. By offering leads a warranty or money-back guarantee, you assume the risk they would have otherwise be taking on by buying your product. And you signal supreme confidence in yourself, which is attractive. (When done right.)

Attract leads with specificity

Persuasive copywriting needs to sound as though you are speaking to your clients personally, not an easy feat if you don’t have an ideal client in mind. Nobody speaks to their grandmother the same way they speak to their colleagues. This is why websites that try to appeal to everyone who wanders their way run the risk of sounding impersonal and generic.

Vanilla is an almost universally accepted flavour, but it’s a safe bet that nobody is going to be raving about a vanilla gelato the next day, not the way they would about the Elvis Fried Banana Sandwich flavour that was the day’s special. You don’t want your website to be the vanilla version of yourself that nobody remembers.

With your client profile close, you need to dedicate the copywriting of your lead generation campaigns to the people in that profile. Every written word should revolve around them, what their problems are and how you’re going to solve those problems. And it needs to be specific. If you say “I write Google ads for small businesses”, that leaves room for confusion. Your readers are going to wonder, what is a small business? Does he mean me? I run three takeaway shops, so he can’t mean me.

But if you lead with “I write Google ads for small businesses with 20 employees or less, who want higher quality website traffic and better conversion rates”, your ideal clients know that you are talking directly to them. So often marketers are crippled with fear of offending their would-be customers that they err on the side of flavourless content no one cares about anyway. It may be scary to think that you might be putting off businesses who don’t fit that description, but those who click away weren’t good prospects for you anyway.

Once you free yourself from the need to please everyone (And there is no pleasing everyone), you can work towards creating content that genuinely encapsulates your brand personality and attracts people who are the ideal fit for you. And more often than you think, people from outside your ideal client market might find that your message resonates with them as well.

Go even deeper with your copywriting by researching

You can keep your copywriting laser-sharp with our additional tips on researching your website.

Ready to generate some leads?

People are fundamentally different. Some people love pineapple on pizza while sensible people can’t stand the thought of desecrating a pizza with pineapple. We all have different outlooks and experiences, which lead to us liking and needing different things. When writing your website, it is important to remember that there is no “one size fits all” solution that will work on everyone. To quote film director Andrew Davis, you can’t be everything to everyone, but you can be something to someone. This is why it is important to define your ideal client, and work out a strategy towards establishing and building a strong, sustainable relationship with them.

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