Can your “Boring” Company have Edgy Web Copy?

Estimated reading time: 10 minute(s)

News flash: If you work in investing, insurance, or law, your work may be complex, but your About Us page doesn’t have to be. Even though you work in a very professional, buttoned-up industry, your website copy can still have some edge.

In initial conversations with a copywriter, some managers in more traditional industries feel real fear. They sometimes fret that the tone a copywriter will employ may be too edgy – so much so that it turns prospects away. Some of this worry is warranted; if you’re aiming to attract institutional investors, you don’t exactly want to make jokes.

However, in most industries, the tone can be much more rousing, hair-raising, and fire-starting than it is. And there are two big reasons for that: First, you don’t want visitors to get bored; even lawyers and accountants and engineers have short attention spans. Second, you want visitors to quickly understand the great “thing” your company does for them and generic, safe, watered-down language does not accomplish that.

You can also be a bit provocative while not being inappropriate, of course.

Let’s take a look at examples in two very lofty industries – venture capital and law. In each example, we’ll look at a company whose copy fails to leave much of an impression, then present a company that excels.

 

Venture Capital Firms

Plenty of venture capital firms have dry-looking websites with fairly bland copy. They tend to tout their experience and the number of dollars in their portfolio of investments. Here’s one with an easily forgettable description of the company’s services:

A description of a service that is boring

But another venture capital firm, First Round Capital, goes buck wild with its copy, even using the word “ass.” Does it come off as rude or inappropriate? Absolutely not. (H/T to The Content Marketing Institute for the example).

An advertisement for a boring service that is edgy and memorable

The tagline “We have your back” is great because it’s succinct, evocative and informal, summing up just who First Round is (they are dependable) and what its team aims to do for you (back you up). First Round then writes that they’ll be the “kick in the ass” when you need it most. It’s an unexpected phrase that gets you smiling and makes you want to meet these people, and with it, they’ve quickly established an emotional connection with you.

 

Law Firms

Law firms often use play-if-safe copy. This instinct towards the boring is understandable since they want to show you they’re dependable, experienced, and award-winning.

The problem with this kind of copy, though, is it just doesn’t stand out. Here is one of many similar examples:

A traditional, boring description of a law firm

Now let’s take a look at a funkier approach from Liszka & Gray, an employment lawyer in New York City.

A picture of a lawyer with a memorable description of the firm

I highlighted the killer phrase here: “Take it From an Employment Lawyer Who Stood Up to His Boss and Won.” That sentence conveys passion, empowers you, and convinces you that Liszka can help you win your case. And it’s a bit agitating. This Liszka fellow is sticking it to the man.

Although it makes sense that an employment firm appealing to individual clients will have an easier time writing emotional, edgy copy than a corporate law firm, most corporate firms have an opportunity to differentiate themselves and they’ve missing out on it.

The key is not being afraid to use direct, powerful, and provocative language to quickly convey exactly who you are, what your specialty is, and why clients should get excited about you. And that advice still applies to even the most buttoned-up industries.

For a brainstorming session on how to turn your website copy into a ongoing conversion engine, get in touch with us.

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Keenan Steiner

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