I create or improve copy that is written factually, truthfully and guarantees your credibility and integrity. It generates and nurtures leads, and causes website visitors to do what you want. My specialties include ghostwriting, or writing in somebody else’s voice, tone and style. I also blog, or write several times about a specific idea, topic or theme. These posts are usually 500-700 words but could be any length. I also can take these posts and shorten them to just a few paragraphs so you can use them on social media sites. My process requires your full participation — I can’t do my job without you. I begin by asking open-ended questions that usually start with who/what/where/when/how/why. I use critical thinking to listen and identify holes in your responses, which leads to additional questions. This process gets me the information I need to create or improve your copy so it’s free of lies, embellishments or exaggerations. A truth-based message is easier to remember, get behind and promote. Clients who want this kind of copy want someone who will take the time to hear them, to intellectually and emotionally understand them. Then they want the copy written honestly, accurately and clearly, with no BS. For 31 years, I’ve been writing, editing and communicating in these unique ways. Clients benefit because their words read differently than their competition’s, which helps increase the number of leads they get from their websites. Some want to hire me for just one job, no matter how long or short it takes. Others pay a retainer and contract with me over several months. My fees are fixed yet flexible.
In this episode
Lee Barnathan of LB Communications is fed up with all the poor copy on websites. His research indicates that 95% of all website copy is focused on features, functions, and here's what we do. But Lee succinctly points out that if you want to get business from your website you got to talk in the language of your target market's pain points and what you do to get rid of that pain and get them the results they are looking for. He reminds us that your customers are listening to radio station WIIFM so you better communicate on that same bandwidth: What's In It For Me! Listen to the end for a compelling gift Lee is offering our listeners.
A glimpse of what you'll hear
02:02 Why the copy on 95% of all websites is written so poorly that it hurts results
02:47 The invasion of the computer bots
04:10 When you sound average, the only things that matters to the buyer is price.
06:08 What's in your head is only with copy that is written from your customers' perspective.
07:54 The impact of compelling copy
10:52 Use this 4 stage persuasive marketing framework to improve your website copy.
12:57 Learn about Lee. Email Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org
(Note: this was transcribed using transcription software and may not reflect the exact words used in the podcast.)
Centricity Introduction 0:04
Welcome to the Best Kept Secret videocast and podcast from Centricity. If you're a B2B service professional, use our five step process to go from the grind of chasing every sale. to keeping your pipeline full with prospects knocking on your door to buy from you. We give you the freedom of time and a life outside of your business. Each episode features an executive from a B2B services company sharing their provocative perspective on an opportunity that many of their clients are missing out on. It's how we teach our clients to get executive decision makers to buy without being salesy or spammy. Here's our host, the co founder and CEO of Centricity, Jay Kingley
Jay Kingley 0:43
I'm Jay Kingley, co-founder and CEO of Centricity. Welcome to another episode of our Best Kept secret, podcasts, and videocast where I am happy to welcome Lee Barnathan of LB Communications. LB Communications is a writing and editing agency for small businesses focused on creating attention grabbing copy that converts. Lee is based in Los Angeles, California. Welcome to the show, Lee.
Lee Barnathan 1:13
Glad to be here, Jay. Thank you.
Jay Kingley 1:15
Fabulous. All right, leave, I have got a pet peeve. Like everybody else, I spend a lot of time going website to website to website. And half the time, I have no idea. Once I read through it, what that company is doing. Oftentimes, I come away confused, right? Sometimes I even think that what they're doing from looking at the website turns out to be totally different than what it is that they really do. Lee, why is this so difficult for people to get their messaging in their copy correct? And what is it that they need to change in terms of how they're thinking about this?
Lee Barnathan 2:06
Ah, that's a wonderful question. I have found the same things you have found J. You know, I was asked to give a presentation a couple of weeks ago, and in researching for I looked at what must have been 100 websites. And what I noticed was like 95% of them didn't recognize this one basic truth that features tell and benefits sell. The mistake I saw over and over and over again was that the website copy focused on the services that they offered, and not the pain points that visitors who come to the website want to have solved. I know you know, this feature is something that a company offers, but a benefit is something that others get from using what the company offers.
Jay Kingley 2:44
Well, and the other thing I have seen is, I sometimes wonder maybe you actually know the answer to this. Are there computer bots that are doing all the writing? Because so often, not only is it poor construction or grammar. It's just a boring
Lee Barnathan 3:05
Of course, there is I mean, and I know you know this, you know, you've got Grammarly, which you know, people who don't know how to write they use and Grammarly can help you write more clearly. But the problem is Grammarly and all the digital writing assistance tools that exist like Grammarly are written with an algorithm, which means that when you use them, you sound like everybody else. And when you sound like everybody else, you don't stand out, you're not unique. And when everybody's doing the same thing, and sounding the same, everything that's out there becomes noise. And the volume of noise becomes so great that it becomes nearly impossible for the copy that you wrote to stand out and get noticed. I mean, people think that listing everything the company does on their website is actually solving the pain points. But really all you're saying is, look at me, look at me look at everything I can do. But what website visitors really want is for you to answer the single most important question, what can you do for me? You know, as someone once said to me, everybody listens to WIIFM? What's in it for me?
Jay Kingley 4:10
I love that way. And one of the things that I love to say to people is that when you sound like everybody else to your target market, you are the definition of average. And how many people have you interacted with on the buy-side that are saying, I am looking to buy the most average vendor out there? Right? If you can't differentiate yourself, then you are going to be the definition of average. And when buyers don't have the choice when your customers don't have a choice, because all their see are average then there is only one variable that they're using to make that decision that is price, low price wins, and who wants to run a business where you're constantly under price pressure, because people don't see the point of the value-added.
Lee Barnathan 5:04
Exactly. You've got lots and lots and lots of content from more and more sources from a pool of inexperienced writers who think they can write, and they can't. And if you want proof, just look at how many emails and newsletters and websites and blogs that you're bombarded with every day. How many do you actually open and read?
Jay Kingley 5:23
Very much, unless I know the person and have a relationship with them. It's already established, you know, they're pretty much going straight to my spam in the trash.
Lee Barnathan 5:33
And of those that you read, how many are amateurishly written? Because I would guess, most of them.
Jay Kingley 5:40
Too many, too many. That's for certain, really great articulation of what the challenge is, I think this is a frustration that every one of us feels. So here's my question to you. What do we do about it? How do customers? How do people running businesses need to change their point of view and perspective on the type of copy that they're putting out? Whether it be on their website, or as you say, email, newsletters, social media, doesn't matter they are messaging the business. What do they need to change in terms of their thought process,
Lee Barnathan 6:15
They need to, they need to remember one very important thing, just because the company knows that what they're selling on their website, whether it's a product or service will make people's lives better, doesn't mean that the person visiting the website knows that the copy has to be written in such a way that leads the person visiting the website to that conclusion, as if the person has to realize, well, duh, I have to go with this company. And the way you do that is you write it in such a way that it stands out from all the copy that's there, meaning it has to be written from the visitor's perspective. So there's got to be a lot of you-centric verbiage. You have this problem, you have this pain point, you need it solved, and so on.
Jay Kingley 6:57
And I think it's also important that we create a sense of urgency around that, you know, what it is that we do, it's not enough that it's just important, but it has to be important and urgent so that there's a strong call to action.
Lee Barnathan 7:13
Exactly. If you focus on them, and not yourself, you'll probably see in several ways, which we'll probably get to how effective or more effective your website's going to be.
Jay Kingley 7:26
Well, great segway, Lee, let's get to that right now. If people change the way they are looking at their copying in their messaging, and they make it you-centric, rather than me-centric, and they do so in a way that's authentic, and gets their true personality out there, emphasizing what it is they, as you said, what's in it for me? So give me a sense if they do all those things? What do you think in your experience, what's going to be the impact on their business, and what's going to be the impact on that decision-maker,
Lee Barnathan 8:05
There are two main benefits you get from having your copy written differently. One of them is emotional, and one of them is an increase in revenue. The emotional satisfaction is that the copy will number one, it'll sound different. But number two, it will be more true to who you and your company are. Your personality, your philosophy, your mission statement. When it's written in your voice as if it was written by you. It makes it that much easier for you to be confident about getting behind to trumpet it to go out into the world and sound loudly. This is me, this is my company. This is what we do. This is what we sell. We're great. And we're better than our competition because we do all these things differently, etc, etc, etc. The financial advantage is when you write differently, and you show the visitor to the website that you are thinking about them, you're more likely to increase your revenue. I mean, for example, consulting giant McKinsey did a study of 90 B2B companies. What they found is that the people who visit their website want open and honest dialogue. And you've got cmo.com that reported a study that said 79% of clients have to understand the company cares about them before they consider buying from them. So if you put those things together, you end up getting to know more interest in what you're writing, sorry, and what you're reading online. That leads to more inquiries on your website and that leads to more sales. There is a client I have who does wonders with Microsoft Excel. That is not easy. The service to be able to, to sell to be able to trump it out there in the world. Even though Microsoft Excel is a great product to be able to be efficient and save a company time and money. So I rewrote the guy's site. And he went from having less than a handful of calls a month to two handfuls of calls a week. And of those calls 50% hired him. And that's an increase in revenue between 5% to 20% That depends on the jobs he was hired for. And it started with being able to have the copy written from the perspective of I care about you, I know you have this problem. And I'm going to solve it for you.
Jay Kingley 10:44
Really powerful example of the impact of compelling copy, and what it can do to actually move your bottom line. Now, the case is compelling. So that brings me to I think the next thing on most people's minds, so what are the steps that you need to take in order to make this transition your copy that you've talked about,
Lee Barnathan 11:08
I recommend the following. You use copy and you write copy, using the framework of persuasive marketing. Four parts to that interrupt, engage, educate and offer. Interrupt is the website headline, it states the pain point. It's sometimes written as a question though, it doesn't have to be. Engage is where you promise the solution but you don't deliver it yet. And a lot of times, it's a subhead on a website. Educate is where you detail how you're going to solve the pain point that you mentioned in the headline is where you mentioned your strengths, your uniqueness, your process, whatever it's going to take to show people that you are the expert to solve this pain point that they've come to have solved. And finally, with offer, you give them something, ideally, at no risk or low risk to them, no risk and low cost to you.
Jay Kingley 12:03
We're gonna take a quick break. When we come back, we want to learn a little bit more about you.
Centricity Sponsorship 12:13
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Jay Kingley 13:11
Welcome back. Let's find out a little bit more about Lee. Lee, let me start by asking you in your work at LB Communications. What pain points are you solving for your target market? And why did they need to bring you in, in order to get rid of this?
Lee Barnathan 13:29
Well, the pain points deal with their copy, obviously, their copy doesn't convert, it doesn't make the people who visit the website take the action that the company or the person wants them to take whether that's to buy something, or whether that is to continue through the sales process. The copy also doesn't accurately reflect who they are, what their brand is, what their message is. And the third one is that they've tried writing, and they're getting no return on their investment because they don't know how to write.
Jay Kingley 14:04
Lee, what I always like to understand when I'm talking to someone, not so much what they do. But you know, and it gets back to this the conversation we had before the break on average and the importance of not being average. So when people look at you, and they asked you, Lee, I know you're not average, what makes you great at what you do, what do you say?
Lee Barnathan 14:26
But well, before I answer that question, let me quickly say that one thing my approach to writing takes a different bent than most writers. You know, a copywriter generally will take direction from somebody they'll say, there'll be told I mean, you want to write this, this and they'll say, okay, but because I have a journalism background. I come at it from a different point of view. If you tell me what to do, I'm going to use critical thinking, which is a skill that I think is sadly in decline. It is so important. So you're going to tell me you want me to write something and I'm going to critically think about it, analyze the message, analyze the purpose, analyze the audience. And I'm going to say why? And I'm going to ask a lot of questions, beginning with who, what, where, when, how, and why the journalists favorite questions. And I'm going to get all this information. And this information is going to serve two purposes. For me, number one, to have more information that I need to write because then you have just all of the cream of the crop and get rid of all the chaff and keep all the wheat. But the other thing is I'm listening to you answer these questions. And it's giving me a sense of your personality, and what words you would want to use because I'm going to write it as if I'm you, I'm going to ghostwrite it so to speak, I'm going to say what you are and who you are. So when the copy is written, you'll be able to see it and say, That's me, again, making it more likely that you're going to champion it out in the world.
Jay Kingley 15:52
Lee, I go to your LinkedIn profile and encourage everyone to do that. We can see you've had a pretty long career, you've done a lot of really interesting things, as you mentioned, starting in journalism. So, Lee, you can get all that from LinkedIn, what I want to understand is what happened, maybe it's in your personal life, maybe in your professional life, that has caused you to be where you're at today, starting LB Communications, in serving the Small Business target market.
Lee Barnathan 16:27
There are two critical moments in my career that have put me where I am now. Number one was, in the year 2000 or so I was up for a promotion of my newspaper. And I didn't get it. And I felt I deserved it. And so I started looking away and left the newspaper business, I went into technical writing, being told that there were creativity possibilities there. And I was lied to. So after being a round peg in a square hole for about 27 months, I struck out on my own and started to freelance. And I was doing fine, I was having my ups and downs I was hustling and times I enjoyed at times it was a pain in the butt. And then the pandemic hit. And as the pandemic hit, I was noticing that here in LA even though LA is a massive city, in my networking, I was coming up against the law of diminishing returns, wasn't getting a big enough network, a new pool of potential clients and referral partners. So I looked East. And I started looking outside of LA and I found many organizations, one of which is Centricity. That allowed me to not just meet a lot of new people, but also learn how to message myself better to be able to sell myself better to be able to do things that I hadn't been doing to think about how I sell myself in ways that I had never thought of because I didn't know what I didn't know, you put those two things together. And I have become a better writer, a better editor, a better businessman to be able to thrive in LB Communications.
Jay Kingley 18:18
We use enlightened us today about the critical issue of being able to communicate, I don't want to use the word right here, because it's really about communicate communicate a message that's going to get your target market to convert. And I think because of the insight that you shared, there are probably a number of people listening in that are saying, I'd like to continue that conversation with you directly. So how should people reach out to you?
Lee Barnathan 18:46
They can go to my website leebarnathan.com or noBSmarketingsolutions.com There is a contact page they can contact me there. It can also go to LinkedIn. I mean I'm the only Lee Barnathan on LinkedIn so it will be easy to find me. Those are the main two ways that I would suggest.
Jay Kingley 19:07
Super and we'll put all that contact information in the show notes and in the video to make it easy for people. All right, Lee, as we come to the end, I'm sort of struck by the value that I think he provided today in terms of how to think about how you go about your communication, particularly on the marketing side, but you know, I'm thinking maybe you can do a little bit better. I'm thinking why not offer a gift to all the people that are listening. Let's get your value Lee to our audience up to 110% so I'm going to put you on the spot Lee what can you offer our audience.
Lee Barnathan 20:00
Well, if for everyone who tunes in, if you email me your website address, I will give you a free analysis of the writing of your website. I'll tell you what I think I'll tell you if it's fine. I'll see if your messaging is consistent if you have typos or misspellings that messes with your credibility. Also, if you're highlighting features or benefits, all I ask is that you mentioned you heard me on this podcast and you do not add me to any email list. I am not giving you permission to do so.
Jay Kingley 20:33 All right, Lee, I think that is fair. I encourage everybody who's listening, reach out to Lee very generous offer, and in my experience and Lee's experiences then you'll know why the majority of websites out there have a way to go find out if you're one of those or if you're in the minority who has nailed it late. Thank you so much for being a guest on The Best Kept Secret show everybody else. Let's continue to crush it out there. Till next time