“I’ve been evolving toward my current situation for a couple years, and it’s been good. But now I’m starting to get attention, and I don’t want to be offering a generic pitch on my site anymore. Everybody else is pitching an approach. I want to pitch a sharp result.”
You’ve got a variety of skills as a freelancer. And you know you can package them up to make something happen for you clients that’s beyond just performing work. You can sell your insights, you can take risks on your side so they take less risk on their side for the same benefits.
One option is to have a sprawling list of all the things you can do. “But can she help me achieve this results with these skills?” See what I mean? Not clear.
Or another option, you can have a value-ladder of options.
Here’s how a value ladder looks like.
- Big Custom Work - Highest price, variable scope, big problem you fix;
- A Big, Defined, Service Offering - High price, but defined scope, maybe a fixed price, something done-for-you;
- A Smaller, Defined, Service Offering - Accessibly priced (fixed), very defined scope and process;
- A Guide or Ebook or Course or Group Session - Accessibly priced, self-serve product of group engagements;
- Free Stuff, like articles, podcasts, a newsletter.
The trick here is to have these offerings come and help for similar (but sharply understood) jobs-to-be-done (more on that below), and the options end up competing against one-another, instead of having you and your services compete with other people.
The Ground Work of Understanding the “Jobs”
Think of those moments when your customers will be wanting to say “enough is enough”, where they’ll start to look for something different. Same-old got too old.
Go beyond just identifying a market and a typical buyer. Go beyond finding a problem you can help solve. Go further than that and identify those situations that are ripe for your visitors to “switch” to you.
Those moments are key, because then you’ll understand what people will switch away from, so they can switch toward what you offer.
So you make a list of some of those moments. Now what? Are these moments real? Without that bit of validation, you’re tempted to revert to just make a page that highlights the benefits, what you’ll get.
But you know you’re missing something. Adding benefits will just make you look like everyone else. You know your services can be put to help a precise struggle, and you want better customers who will tell others about you, not people who are shopping for the lowest price. This is, after all, the Internet you’re working on. You know what makes a message go places.
You want your thing to be remarkable, remark-worthy.
So you know you’ll make a page that highlights the pain, and shows some ways forward, and humbly shows how your thing can be of help, and what to do next. A little like this page you’re reading right now.
A New Structure for Your Site
Home Page: You Understand the Struggle And Offer a Ladder of Options
The Home page highlights one meta struggle.
You make sure you’ve got a value-ladder, a way for people to jump in at the stage they’re at, regardless of their level of sophistication. One way to do that is to offer services, smaller one-offs or subscriptions that land on different “steps” of the ladder.
Newsletters are a great risk-free way for people to try you out. Make sure you’re tending to the forces of progress pushing back in the visitor’s mind, and make sure you find the “job” for which people will gladly “hire” your newsletter. Make sure it delivers.
Another thing on your value-ladder might be a guide or a short ebook or an email sequence (like an email-based course).
As for your professional services, you can have that big “contact me” button (or other ways you can have that call to action), but you might also want to think about packaging your services in a way new-comers can just purchase right away. Maybe it’s a one-off report, a single exploratory call or a critique call or a consulting call that you package. Something that offers clear value, tests the water for the relationship (both ways), and gets you to talk to new people for a predictable price.
A Page for Each Offering, Including Mini-Products
And for each of those offerings, you make its own page. Armed with a very good understanding of the pushes and pulls going on in the mind of the buyer for each of those offerings, you can make those offerings compete against each other (and not against someone else they know). For each, you know the situation that causes someone to part ways with the old, and say yes to something new. You’ve humbly positioned yourself as someone who can help. And maybe you’ll have found someone to spread the word.
What about products? As you see, that also includes some mini products you could sell. Guides and courses and ebooks. Sharpen the pitch pages of those products the same way.
Principles, not a Formula
All this might look like a formula to reproduce. “It’s just a formula for long-form landing pages.”
But it’s about some principles that are underused, but work:
- Focus on a hard struggle. Something that’s a throbbing thumb, a recurring nuisance, something that seems to get worse;
- A long landing page, although optional, gives you multiple chances at making your case, using different words, multiple takes at showing you understand, and still helps those who’ll freely scroll your page anyway;
- It’s not about being sales-y, it’s about being helpful. People just want to make progress, and to get help from someone they can trust;
- Know that you’re mostly in competition with people continuing with their own self-made mish-mash of habits, and in your case specifically, you’re in competition with them doing it themselves. At some point though, the struggle will get stronger. If you sowed trust, they’ll have bookmarked you for later. They’ll be back when it’s time;
- Speaking of competition, you might as well offer multiple options to your visitor. Make each option compete against each other (the main idea behind having a value-ladder, instead of trying to compete with other people. They’re on your site. Help them through their own back-and-forth. Help them make a decision. Even if it’s to go with your free guide or for your newsletter;
- Speaking of newsletters and free stuff, consider everything you write as mini struggle-solvers. You’ll then be able to weave a web of links between what you write and what you offer. That’ll help people vet you, but also, it’ll help them learn it themselves. By the time they hire you (or your product) with money, you’ll have a common language.
Doing It Yourself: Q&A
Can I write those kinds of pages through WordPress or Squarespace or Wix?
Sure thing. We’re talking here about longer-style pages with mostly text, so WordPress’s new editor will work well, page builder plugins will work great too, and of course Squarespace and Wix offer page builder UIs of their own.
What helps your page pop out is to sprinkle a little bit of styling to your text to help with visual hierarchy: headings of different sizes, blockquotes that stand out, a couple different types of bulleted lists. I offer the styling as part of my /review package, but any good designer could help with the CSS work on that.
Do you do sell some copywriting services, including blog posts?
I only write the copy for the marketing pages of your site, and I only offer to review the work you’ve started on. For help writing your blog posts and guides, I know of a good writer.
How do I go about doing the buyer research, like you do?
It starts with a messy process of understanding the buyer’s vocabulary, the options she considers, and mostly, knowing that “doing it myself” is your primary competitor here. What will people do in-house, on their own, or learn how to to build? Go hang out in forums and Slack communities, and listen for the pains and struggles. Then your research might take you to conduct purchase interviews, a specific technique that retroactively looks at the story of a purchase (of a competitor, of a piece of software to do it themselves, or a hire). What’s needed: that the buyer went through a good amount of deliberation before the purchase. Here’s a list of questions you could use during this Purchase Interview.
Do I have to understand the Jobs-To-Be-Done theory, which I see you talk about a lot in your articles?
The Jobs-To-Be-Done theory of buyer behaviour (here’s an intro with some examples) is pretty central to the practice I propose you take up. It insists on concepts like the “struggling moment” being the requirement for any start of a purchase journey, the main trigger for of all jobs-to-be-done. It talks about the Four Forces of Progress, “non-consumption” being your major competition, and how you compete with surprising other alternatives. It’s a strong lens you can use, and I highly recommend it.
“Bah, it’ll take too long to figure it out if I do it myself, and I don’t want to miss the boat. How can we team up?”
Here’s what I have to offer:
/review – A professional review of your landing page (or of your draft). You’ve got a landing page, you went far enough on your own, sought feedback, made tweaks, but now’s the time to bring someone in for a review. You don’t want to be an expert in landing page writing, and you’d rather spend your time being an expert on your work. Three options, including one free option.
/visualize – A consulting call. Preceded by an email exchange to learn how I can help, the focus of the call (the main value to you) will be about consulting you on what to do next. Additionally, our discussion will give me the information I need to put together a proposal for further work for you, if that’d be helpful (I won’t try to upsell you). CDN$ 250, including our back-and-forth over email ahead of the call and the call itself (about an hour). I’ll wave the fee if you choose to go with another paid package.
/understand – A research boost to focus your product priorities. When you’ve got to take a pause and dig into what motivated your buyers to “hire” your product. Maybe you’re getting cancellations, or people aren’t using the features you’ve developed, and you’re left a little surprised. You can’t continue building and building, and need to start questioning a little bit more.
/struggle-first - Free, a collection of videos and articles on creating a Struggle-First marketing/landing page for your product or service. The kind of page that your visitor responds to by saying “I feel understood!”. Useful when your thing helps a real struggle, but your audience doesn’t have an established mindset about the solution yet.
/interviews - Free, a collection of articles on conducting Jobs-to-be-done purchase interviews. You’ve heard of the benefits, so here’s a place to bookmark for when you set out to run those interviews.
/articles - Free, my articles are published every Friday. They cover topics from buyer psychology through the lens of Jobs-To-Be-Done, to copywriting and sharpening your products and services. Sign-up below.
/your-purchase-story - I pay you USD $60 for you to tell me a recent purchase story. I’m looking for a time you hesitated a lot, purchased it for yourself, and a few other things I’m looking for. I might blog about your story too (names and details removed), but that’s basically the deal.
You just want more lift happening. You want to help your customers lift themselves to newer heights, and that’s exactly what I want for you.
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
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