Businesses strive to make their websites stand out from their competitors’ websites.
Unfortunately, far too often they solely focus on their websites’ design and not what visitors actually came for: its content.
Before they plan or have their expert web copywriter write their sites’ content, smart businesses will have worked with a strategic branding or web agency that took them through a positioning strategy process so they can get clear on what it is they offer that no one else does, and so they can be THE only something instead of “a” one of many.
In his book “Hey Whipple, Squeeze This: The Classic Guide to Creating Great Ads”, award-winning copywriter Luke Sullivan suggests striving to be THE at something. (Note that his book is not A classic guide. It’s THE classic guide.)
“Go for an absolute; go for an –est,” he says. “All the rest of the claims in the middle ground are boring.”
But don’t go crazy on me here.
You don’t need to be jumping through hoops on fire. Just remember that being truly boring is being truly forgettable.
Boring is easily dismissed. Your business doesn’t want to be dismissed, does it?
Here’s the point: The word THE can make your company’s website less likely to be dismissed.
Sullivan insists you don’t have to make outlandish claims or out-boast a competitor at their pet claim, either.
Instead, he encourages you to find your own “–est.”
And this isn’t just good practice in website copywriting, but in branding in general: Once you know what you’re the best at, own it.
To be “–est” (boldest, greatest, smartest…), you have to be THE greatest xyz, not A great xyz.
Look for instances in your business’s website when you’re hedging.
Look for these instances and see if you can replace “a” and “an” with THE. (I recommend not using all caps, though.)
Or, even better, talk to your expert web copywriter about what your company’s “–est” is and how to spotlight it on your website.
This new iPhone isn’t just A smart phone. It’s THE SMARTEST phone:
I’ll be 100% honest with you here.
I’ll admit we hesitate to use this technique regularly. Though it’s absolutely been proven to be powerful and effective, it can also absolutely come off as borderline spammy and decrease a company’s credibility.
I do sometimes get skeptical when I see the word THE in a company’s claim.
“You’re the best?” I’ll often ask myself when I see this claim. “Says who? Sounds like an empty claim to me,” I often find myself thinking.
After all, when you make a statement or claim, it should have a hell of a lot of truths and reasons to back it up. Otherwise, you’re not being anywhere near honest. In some cases, you may be all-out lying.
Luke Sullivan is brilliant, but I personally feel this technique should be used sparingly and cautiously. Though tremendously powerful and exciting, when used incorrectly, it can backfire and cause doubt and distrust in your potential customers. And you don’t want that.
Use your common sense when applying this technique. You’ll need to trust your gut here. What does your gut say to implementing it on your website?