And if you’re talking about telling the world that story on your website – then you have to distill and communicate the most important value of your product – or even your brand – in the very first sentence on the site.
This just went from tough – to essential for the success of your startup.
Don’t underestimate the power of the first sentence.
The first sentence on your website, which can come in all lengths and manner of messaging, will set the tone for what your potential customer can expect moving forward.
It’s more than a first impression, it is an expectation. So getting it right can mean the difference between moving them to the second sentence (and eventually a sale) or having them click-out, lost to the World Wide Web.
But it’s not just about getting your message clear – it’s also about getting your audience clear as well. Here’s what we mean:
A cannabis delivery startup in CA promised “Delivery in 60 minutes” with the first sentence on their website. These 4 words dictated the company’s entire culture – and their belief about their customer too.
Every day was rush rush rush.
Hurry hurry hurry!
Go go go!!
Trying to meet this Domino’s style value was a non-stop effort for the team and an overwhelming way to run the business for the owners.
But when our team at Martin Creative identified their One Target Customer, we found that 54 year old Sharon wasn’t worried about how fast she could receive her order. She was worried if a “big pot truck” was going to show up in front of her house. She was worried her credit card would find out (even though it was legal in the state).
There were other things standing in Sharon’s way, and worrying about how long it would take to get her cannabis wasn’t one of them.
With a new website and a first sentence that read, “Friendly Cannabis Delivery” our Cannabis startup clients were on their way. The launch of their new website (and first sentence) saw:
- The company have their largest single day earnings in company history
- Praise for a new education-focused website section focused on addressing first timer concerns
- An astonishing 12% increase in conversion rate for a $1.2M annualized return
The right messaging differentiates your product from the competition and make it easy for people to understand why they want what you have. By highlighting your benefits (not the features, not services, not the product — the benefits) you’re explaining how you meet the customer’s needs, and providing proof of what you can deliver.
Fall (deeply, madly, hopelessly) in love with your customer.
It’s age old advice from one of the grandfather’s of advertising, Mr. Claude Hopkins, but it’s a real simple concept.
“Learn to win one [customer] before you go after thousands.”
For every 100 visitors to the average eCommerce site, 2 of them convert to new customers. And yet, so many of our clients have spent countless time, energy, and money, trying to talk to the 98% who aren’t converting, rather than having incredible conversations with the 2% who are.
Choose One Target Customer. The one you’re crazy about. The one you make everything for. Then map out, step-by-step, how to win that single person — all the way through the customer journey – not just till the sale. From the moment they first find out about you to referring 10 friends over the course of their customer lifetime.
Key questions to answer when defining your One Target Customer:
- What is the investment to acquire your target customer?
- Which target customer will spend the most per transaction?
- What is the overall lifetime value of your target customer?
- Does your target customer have a wide referral network?
- Who will benefit most from your products and services?
- Will you enjoy working with your target customer?
Start with one target customer. Define their journey with you and figure out how to talk to them directly. You’ll begin to see results right away.
Crafting the One-Sentence Unique Value Proposition
Creating a unique succinct value proposition starts with research. You need to understand your audience’s needs and your competition. After all, you’re offering something unique that other brands aren’t, and you need to be able to articulate that.
Here are some examples of how a great first sentence can position a company for the right conversation with their customer:
Example 1: The First SaaS Startup
This funded, TechStars-accepted startup needed to sound more aligned with their Gen Z customer.
Previous 1st Sentence: Turn Good Credit into Free Travel.
What’s wrong with it: The words “credit” and “free” set off blaring alarms in people’s minds. And even if the One Target Customer is interested in boosting their credit, as the page later goes on to say, they’re still skeptical of anything being “free” in this world.
NEW! 1st Sentence: Glow up your next vacation with travel rewards points.
Why this works: It speaks directly to the intended customer, 20 yr old Gen Z Sara, by removing the scary words and highlighting the benefit: travel reward points.
How you can use this: Speak your customer’s language. Use words that are within their vernacular to concisely communicate your unique value.
Example 2: The Second SaaS Startup
Previous 1st Sentence: Let guests follow along with your tour on their phone.
What’s wrong with it: It sells the product instead of the benefit. “Let guests follow along” promotes the company’s Digital Guidebook as the value, prompting critique from customers wanting more features, updates, and functionality.
NEW! 1st Sentence: Capture more email addresses.
Why this works: It provides an actionable, measurable outcome of using the software – capturing more email addresses. Now customers don’t need to challenge specific UX/UI decisions in the app, because the benefit is “emails” instead of a guidebook.
How you can use this: Avoid selling features. Your features help your customer achieve something they desire. Speak directly to that desire and narrow your sales conversation to something that benefits them.
Example 3: The Third SaaS Software
Previous 1st Sentence: The Predictive Hiring Experience Platform
Previous Supporting Copy: Harmoniously Fusing High Tech + Human Touch
What’s wrong with it: It uses several complex words in a string that’s hard to follow.
NEW! 1st Sentence: Artificial Intelligence to Power Your Hiring.
Supporting Copy: Bring structure to your interviews with our collaborative hiring platform. Smart software that gives you confidence in your long-term hires, every time.
Why this works: Pulling from Oren Klaff-style tactics here — the sentence is familiar to them (hiring) plus one better (AI). Hiring + AI.
How you can use this: The value in your first sentence should connect to the benefit they are purchasing. In this case, instead of purchasing features from AEON, the new first sentences creates a new currency — hires. Instead of attaching their pricing model directly to features it can instead be decided by number of hires.
Visit our article for more examples of great first sentences.
Revisiting and Refining Your Unique Value Proposition
Crafting a compelling unique value proposition for your startup may seem like a steep hill to climb. And don’t get us wrong, it will take some serious iteration to get it right.
But have no doubt, the right first sentence will be critical to your success.
Of course, if you’d like the pros to write it for you – there’s an option for that too.