Alli McKee
Sep 19, 2017 · 4 min read

Your landing page headline is your company’s greatest asset.

Our current placeholder page while we do our own revamp work. A downer.

…Or liability.

Ours was the latter. Why? Well, for one… we were getting feedback that pulled us in every which way:

“Too narrow. What’s the broader vision?

“This is fluff. Too ambiguous. What do you actually do?”

“What’s the problem? You need to convince me of the problem.”

“Too negative. This is a downer. What’s the solution?”

This whiplash further muddled the message.

But the learning from across dozens of conversations?

But how to pick the right positive message? Learn from the best.

Here’s how we approached it.

Step 1. Find your Heroes

Most of you will be doing this already. If you’re not — start now!

Observe what best-in-class companies (both in and beyond your industry) are putting out there. See what works, what doesn’t, and adapt it to your own customer base and brand.

Step 2. Find the Formulas

For the latest iteration of our landing page, I researched dozens of successful landing pages, and found 8 “formulas” for messaging.

Here they are, illustrated by some of my favorite “Hero” companies:

Step 3. Fill out the Formulas with your own content

In Google Sheets, I compiled these and a few others, broke them down into the formulas, and plugged in our content.

It helped me appreciate the flexibility… and also realize the importance of focus. Some of the results were painfully generic for an early stage company (“How Ideas Spread”) and others seemed to be too robotic (“Share your visual story, from text content, with instant editing, and URL tracking”).

Regardless, though, this method has been the best I’ve found to push my own thinking and come up with the best headline for our target audience.

A WIP spreadsheet I used to test out Stick’s messaging with different formulas to see what … sticks.

Step 4. Choosing one

It may be a stretch to build MECE categories for landing page copy, but this is how I thought about breaking these 8 formulas down. Start with two high level questions, before diving into the nuances:

Or, visually:

An example: Who benefits most from your product? Textio vs. Trello

Taking Textio and Trello as examples, here’s how your messaging differs based on your business goals at the highest level:

Textio is a super-specific product (for now), focusing on job descriptions. They use their headline to set a clear scope to help make this ahead-of-its-time product understandable and relatable. Had they used “Every word counts” instead, their headline would lose its punch. Which words? Whose words?

Trello, on the other hand, is a versatile tool used in everything from wedding planning to product management. Limiting the scope of the language to “your project management team” would limit the market. Can I use it for product? What about hiring?

Step 5. Try it on

From your Hero companies, you can try on their copy “formula” as well as their visual language.

Here’s a side by side demonstrating how we mocked up Stick’s first landing page draft based on Intercom’s landing page with both the layout and the copy formula:

The earliest rough draft of Stick’s Landing Page, directly inspired by our “Hero Page” from Intercom

While our latest version is unrecognizable from this early mockup, we wouldn’t be there today without this exercise — and Intercom’s inspiration.

So where did we land?

You’ll have to check out on October 2nd to see!

About the Author: Alli McKee is an artist and entrepreneur who started her career making too many PowerPoints as a consultant at Bain & Company. Seeing how broken communication at work was, she spent time in education in South Africa and in design at to better understand how to improve communication by relying on visual, rather than solely verbal, content. After GSB, she learned to code and founded Stick to turn that “magic” visual design and storytelling process into software that turns text into visuals, automatically. Her goal is to use Stick to enable anyone to tell better visual stories to make their ideas sell, spread — and stick.

Show and Sell

Storytelling is the new Selling. Show and Sell brings together the best of strategy, storytelling, and design to show companies how to sell more, faster with stories that stick. Brought to you by

Alli McKee

Written by

CEO and Founder, - Illustrating Ideas in real time with NLP + ML. Painting and Improv on the side. TEDx Stanford.

Show and Sell

Storytelling is the new Selling. Show and Sell brings together the best of strategy, storytelling, and design to show companies how to sell more, faster with stories that stick. Brought to you by

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