From Whoopi to Websites: Finding the right words to sell your business

At our Brighouse Link meeting on 28 March 2012 copywriter and journalist Michelle Hodgson of Key Words offered us some practical tips on how to use words to help sell your products and services, from website copy to the power of blogging to crafting a punchy press release.

I personally thought her ‘Excercise to take away’ was excellent.  First describe your business in 100 words, then  reduce it to 50 words, then 10 and finally 3.

Michelle has kindly provided us with a summary of her talk below.

Why did I call this talk From Whoopi to Websites?

My background is in book PR and marketing and national newspaper journalism.

The importance of being memorable when you are talking about and writing about your business

Writing about your business is a combination of:

  1. Branding, marketing & PR
  2. Awareness of key words and SEO
  3. Crafting a sentence – with good grammar and spelling

The first question I ask a client – who is your customer?

Who buys your products and services?

What tone do I need to write in?

Not the same for the property maintenance company as the business coach.

Don’t write what you want to say about your company, write what your client wants to know.

Describe your customer. Age, gender, where lives, job?Kind of person?

What kind of cake would they eat? Solid slab of flapjack or a fondant fancy? Are they a fruitcake?

Website copy

Do you read a website like you read a book?

Why do you go on a website?To find out information.

Important to find it quickly and in an easily digestible form.

For SEO, need a paragraph or two at the top of the page with relevant key words but keep the paragraphs brief and use bullet points to break up text (but not too many: the eye can take in lists of around 7 bullet points only). Also important to keep updating your website regularly for SEO.

Exercise to take away:

Write down 3 words that describe what you do

10 words, 50 words, 100 words

A great way to focus your mind but also to use for company directories, website entries etc, useful to have this already prepared.

If you’re struggling, is there a flaw in your business? Is it not clear what you provide?

Press releases

Imagine you’re reading a paper or a trade magazine? Would you read the story you are writing a press release about? What’s interesting about it? Tell that first. Include a quote.

Your press release header needs to appeal to the journalist in the same way the headline in a newspaper might appeal to the reader.


Everyone in this room is an expert in something.

Blogs set you up as an expert in your field and drive people to your website.

What do you know that your potential clients might like to read about?

Think about your business and write down 10 or 15 subject headers as a starting point. Add a brief line on what you will cover in the blog.

Better to write lots of short blogs (250 – 350 words) and release them regularly rather than writing at length then not having time to keep up with them.

Use key words for SEO in the title and the body copy.

A good idea to get five blogs written and ready and then your blog site is already peopled. Also have a couple of blogs in hand in case you’re too busy one week or away. You can also react to industry news for your blog topice.

Crafting a sentence, grammar and spelling

Get a good grammar book.

Get someone to proof your work after you – especially important with printed material that can’t be changed.

Don’t leave writing about your business to the last minute – an afterthought, when you’ve done all your other work and you’re tired. It takes time to write well, your business deserves it.