Making a powerful first impression – crafting an effective homepage message

How to craft a message that will hook your potential client and make them curious for more.

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First impressions are powerful…

I still remember the first time I saw the man who would be my husband. He approached me with a big bouquet of flowers and a shy smile. Something inside me knew in that moment that I was in the right place.

Was it love at first sight? Not really. I needed to know more about him… his values, his personality, his history… before I was willing to make a commitment. But that smile? That was the hook that captured my interest and made me curious to learn more.

The message at the top of a home page is like that shy smile – it’s the hook that captures the interest of a potential customer and makes them curious to explore.

No hook? They will quickly drift away. Those first few seconds set the tone for everything that comes afterward.

So, how can you (and your clients) make an immediate impact with your messaging?

Keep it simple and straightforward.

As creatives, we naturally like to show off a little. We want to demonstrate our creativity in flashy designs or convoluted messaging. I’m a writer and at times I feel like crafting a little poetry or weaving an epic tale of excitement and adventure. Great impulse, but not appropriate here.

The best home page messaging is simple (1-2 sentences) and straightforward. Easily understandable. Hooking the heart… not the mind.

That shy smile sold me. The flowers were lovely and generous and memorable… but it was the expectant hopefulness and emotion of the smile that captured my imagination.

Personalize the tone to your target audience.

When I saw him standing there with a simple bouquet of everyday flowers (not roses or anything flashy)… I felt at home. You see, I’m a country girl with simple tastes. Roses are beautiful, but they aren’t my favorite. That modest bouquet told me that his expectations and tastes were aligned with mine. It felt just right…

The home page messaging should set the tone for the business… and mirror the expectations of the target audience. Is the target customer trendy and edgy? The messaging should be a bit shocking and a little over the top. Does the target customer need reassurance? A calm message is much more appropriate.

Make it memorable.

By memorable, I really mean a combination of catchy and concise. After all, how memorable is a full on paragraph with lots of words no one can pronounce? Short and sweet is best. And honestly… catchy is actually optional. If it’s concise, it will naturally be catchy.

So – how do you put together a home page message that meets the above criteria? Well, you could hire a copywriter (ahem – I might know someone…) but you really don’t need to do that. There are a few formulas I can share that will allow you (or your clients) to put together home page messaging that resonates with your clients.

Here are some simple formulas I recommend to my clients…

The simple, client focused question. Questions are incredibly powerful as hooks… that’s why many websites lead with them. When we read a question, we automatically answer it in our mind. We can’t help ourselves. That’s what makes them so brilliant.

The key, of course, is to keep the question client focused. You want your potential client to feel you are talking to him or her. Here are some examples a health coach might use:

  • Tired of feeling so tired? (negative current state)
  • Looking for more energy? (benefits focused)
  • Ready to take control of your health? (motivational)

The direct identifying statement. Placing this simple value proposition prominently on your home page has the same effect as meeting someone in person and explaining what you do. You’re quickly telling them what you do and who you serve so they know they are in the right place. Similar examples:

  • We help regular people feel stronger and healthier.
  • We create courses to keep you motivated as you change your life.
  • We guide our clients to the vibrant lifestyle of their dreams.

The question/answer. This is just a simple combination of the first two formulas. Ask a question common to your target client and then hook them by being the answer they seek. Ready for examples?

  • Tired of feeling tired? We help regular people feel stronger and healthier.
  • Ready to change your lifestyle? Our courses will keep you motivated.
  • Ready to take control of your health? Let us help.

The emotional statement. This one is a little tricky… and you’ll probably have to brainstorm a bit to come up with something here that resonates in your heart. The key to making an impact is to share an emotion from the client’s perspective. When you have a statement that fits, you’ll know it. Your target clients will know it too. Take a look…

  • Experience the beauty of results.
  • Stand confidently in your expertise.
  • Step beyond fear to take bold action.

Clever is not the key here. Wordy doesn’t work either. Making a powerful first impression is about tone, sincerity, and emotion.

When you get it right, prospective customers will feel welcome, engaged, and curious about your business. When you help your clients get it right, they’ll see you as an expert and expand their trust in you and your design business.

Questions about crafting a home page message that gets you noticed? Hop over to the Drama Free Design Community and tag me. I’m happy to help!

-Michelle

Author: Michelle Hunter

Michelle Hunter is a business strategist and copywriter with a gift for connecting entrepreneurs and their clients using great writing. She is a regular contributer to the DtD blog and co-creator of Designing Success Bootcamp - Helping designers create a strong marketing engine to power business growth. Visit MichelleHunterCreative.com to contact Michelle or learn more.