The Case of The Color Blind Marketer

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Recently I was talking to a marketing pro — someone I really admire. We were talking about how different financial services stand out, based on their websites.

I emailed over some links to three websites that seemed to be making statements. “They’re doing something right,” I said.

To my surprise, this consultant shrugged me off. “I looked at those websites,” he replied. “They’re not doing anything new. They’ve got very broad giveaways and they’re saying the same old stuff. They’re probably just marketing hard.”

Really? I could see strong, obvious differences across the three websites. True, all were business consultants. But Website A introduced the consultant as a maverick who helped clients celebrate their uniqueness. A fits the Innovator archetype: he has a unique program that is not available anywhere else.

Website B was a down-home, “girl next door” type who focused on authenticity; she’s one of the few women who hadn’t been styled for the photoshoot, unless she found a stylist who’s into jeans and sweaters. She fits the Role Model archetype: her message is, “I’m just like you. If I can do it, you can too.”

Website C was an edgy urbanite who wore Armani suits and promoted himself with a sharply written manifesto. He fits the Celebrity archetype: his message is, “I’ve made it big! I’m out there in a big way and I’ve earned enough for a lavish lifestyle. My success gives me the credentials to advise you.”

Each website promised to help other business owners make money and get more clients. Each had fairly straightforward lead magnets.

But each presented a different personality as well as different target markets and value propositions. They weren’t sharing fluffy differences based on color scheme or some arbitrary quality. Each would give you a different experience if you hired them. Few prospects would throw up their hands and say, “They’re all good! I’ll choose the cheapest.”

“Reading style on a website is like seeing colors.”

My colleague isn’t stupid. In fact, he’s one of the smartest consultants out there. But he wasn’t trained as a copywriter. He instinctively understands how to reach his own prospects. He doesn’t get the daily practice of reviewing websites with the question, “How will potential clients read this website? What will they notice in this sales letter? How will they react? How do they connect emotionally with this business owner?”

I was so surprised I did a reality check. I asked another copywriter — a recognizable name — to look them over. She, too, saw differences as clear as red and green on a stoplight.

Many business owners — including experienced coaches — have some form of copy blindness. They are puzzled when their own materials don’t bring results or when their own clients keep working hard without seeing progress. They sometimes push even harder, which makes things worse: it’s like planting seeds in the wrong soil and then going all out with water and fertilizer.

Can you learn to distinguish one marketing archetype from another, just by reading websites?

Absolutely. Here are 3 things you can do starting now:

(1) Take a copywriting course and read copywriting books. Hire a copywriter to help with some of your own DIY projects. Get a sense of the basic principles.

(2) Practice by evaluating websites and sales letters you find on the Internet. Choose examples where it’s easy to get into the customer’s mindset so you think like a buyer, not a marketer. How do they measure up? If they seem to be breaking a lot of rules but still draw clients, what do you think is going on?

(3) When you write your own copy, create some distance. Write a draft and then go away for a day or two. Go back and read it again. Remember that copy is always a work in progress. Almost every copywriter I know has had the experience of writing content, getting no response, revising, and seeing a big change.

What do you think? Has your experience been the same or different? Please comment below.

And if you’d like me to help, check out one of my favorite programs -let’s start with a consultation:

Originally published at on November 13, 2019.

Helping entrepreneurs and independent professionals grow their businesses one story at a time.

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