A picture is not always worth a thousand words.

When I do website reviews for my clients, I am often shocked by the lack of “selling” on most websites. Whether selling a service – like massage or tax preparation, or products like original oil paintings or closet organizers – I often see little to no selling. I am not referring to not having a shopping cart; that is an entirely different issue. I am talking about the lack of marketing “language”.

There’s an old saying: sell the light, not the bulb. Selling needs words. It’s a rare object that actually “sells itself”.

An example of this is a fine artist who reached out to me recently. She is showing original watercolors on her site. These are beautiful pieces, richly colored, and professionally presented. She uses a very expensive paper and the best pigments, too. She was really perplexed. She has never sold on her site. These are big sellers when she shows them at Fine Art Festivals and other exhibits.

It was not hard to unravel her mystery.  She described them simply as “a watercolor”. Period. Sometimes she wrote “watercolor on paper”, but that almost sounds worse! Since we had just discussed her pricing (which was way too low!) and I had learned of her materials and the costs involved, I was shocked that she had not been more descriptive. She needed “my golden words!” She needed to create some “wow”.

Here’s some WOW Words!

Archival Quality Hand-Painted Original Watercolor. Created with high-quality pigments on Arches 100% cotton rag watercolor paper.  

I encouraged her to use that description on her about page and include that on the back of every piece in sleeves at shows and with her shipments. She promises to do that. I will be lurking and will revisit her site soon. (She knows I will be relentless. It’s part of my “service” to my clients.)

Meanwhile, take note: You should highlight your “greatness” whether you are an artist or a plumber. If you use expensive “top-of-the-line” materials in whatever business you are in, you need to highlight that on all your marketing materials. Do you have a food truck? A picture of a bowl of chili without a list of mouthwatering ingredients is useless. Make me hungry! Are you an acupuncturist? Tell me why will I feel totally safe and comfortable. Answer this question: Why is your business or service the “go-to” choice? 

Avoid “industry lingo”.

Another client is just launching her online business. She sells woven woolen goods. She offered this description: “Created with my Grandmother’s Ashford spinner and my trusty Kromski Harp!” Huh?

In interviewing the business owner, she revealed that the “Ashford spinner” is a spinning wheel used to create yarn. She starts with raw fluffy piles of sheep fleece and angora and magically spins the fibers into yarn on a 1940’s Ashford Spinning Wheel. Wowza! The woven goods in her pictures were suddenly AMAZING to me.

But it gets better! The Kromski “Harp” is not an instrument, it’s the brand name of the loom used to weave her hand-made yarn. “Harp” in this case is total industry “insider” jargon.

My fix was easy – starting with an overall description: “I use traditional tools such as a foot-powered 1940’s Ashford spinning wheel that I discovered and then inherited from the attic of my grandmother. I spin the yarn from locally sourced fleece from sheep and angora from local rabbits during molting season. Then I hand-dye the yarns. From there, the yarn is hand-woven, row by row, on my 32” wide Kromski Harp Loom. I use ancient traditions and techniques to create luxurious heirloom-quality, soft, warm, scarves, wraps, baby blankets, and throws.

As for the short description: I spin my own yarn from (angora or sheep fleece), then hand-dye the yarn before weaving it into luxurious heirloom-quality scarves, wraps, baby blankets, and throws.

Clearly, a picture – or in this case, even a video – would bring great value to those descriptions and vice versa.

Do you worry that your marketing descriptions are sketchy or unclear?

Do you sometimes look at your website or other marketing materials and feel it’s foggy and underwhelming? Are online sales few and far between? Here’s 3 things to do right now:

  1. Visit your competitor’s sites and even other similar industry sites from well-known names and businesses. What are they saying in their sales copy? What are you missing that they might be using to sell their services or products?
  2. Consider having a single page on your website devoted to sharing your point-of-view about quality, service, materials, methods of manufacturing, creative insights, and so on. Let people into your head and even your heart if appropriate. Keep it to under 250 words and have a picture of you and your place of business or studio/treatment room, etc, This page can be titled “about our service” or “our quality commitment” or “our promise of quality” or words to that affect. You might also have a page “about us” or “about” or “artist statement” or “our history” or some page that will give additional insight into the owner/operator of the business and what makes you tick and your picture needs to be there, too.
  3. Use words sparingly, but descriptively. You are trying to make a sale, right? Use words that create appeal, curiosity, confidence, desire, and generally make people feel like they want to do business with you.

Use pictures to tell the main story, but “Showing AND Telling” is how your customers get the rest of the story.

Broken Record:

The best selling you can do on a website is making sure you are actively collecting people’s email addresses. They may breeze in from a variety of sources with no need to purchase from you today. But a day will come when they need a gift or want to spend money to treat themselves. How will they remember you? Get going with email marketing with a free trial and get my full upfront attention for free, too. I will help you get started on the right path.

And of course that means I am asking you to sign up if you aren’t a subscriber! Get an instant discount of my services, too!

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Want instant feedback?

Feel free to put comments below and send me links to your website. I might have a privately messaged word or two that I can spare!

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