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During the Gold Rush, the Boudin family, well known master Bakers from France, came to the San Francisco area.

They discovered that the sourdough yeast cultures there were very unique and they eventually became famous for their bread with this special flavor. Miners flocked to this bakery every morning to get their hands on that delicious treat.

The Boudin Family

Since 1849, the Boudin’s have been using the same sourdough culture, which they call a “Mother dough” as the key ingredient for their bread. That Mother Dough is what makes sourdough different (some would say better!) from other breads. Finding and using your “Mother Dough starter” will help you bake a website that is truly and deliciously yours. Ready? Good. Let’s get started.

Using the Recipe: Five Simple Questions You Must Ask

The entire copy writing process has been distilled here into five easy steps that make the task of writing your web copy as easy as baking bread – and tasty, too! Each step in the recipe takes the form of a question. Once you answer each of the five questions about your product or service, you’ll have the basic starter ingredients, a mini-version of your web copy. NOTE: As you are answering these questions, don’t get creative. Just answer factually. We’ll get creative later.

Question 1: What’s the Problem?

Most sales, both online and offline, are based primarily on solving a problem. If you know your target audience, you can now identify their problem — the one that can be solved by your product or service. In copy writing terms these are known as the three Ps – pain, problem or predicament. This is where you play doctor and ask questions so you can diagnose what’s going on for them. The people in your target audience may not even know they have a problem, so it is your job to make them recognize it. The mistake is to try to first sell a solution before your readers have even realized that they have a problem. That’s like a doctor prescribing medicine before you feel sick or understand that the shot will prevent the flu. There’s another aspect to it as well. Once your audience understands they have a problem, you have to let them know that you understand their problem. There’s an old saying that goes something like this: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Ingredient 1. Write down the problem(s) your customer is dealing with. Just one or two sentences. But be sure to capture the pain portion of how this impacts them and their life.

Question 2: Why hasn’t the Problem been Solved?

Extending the doctor metaphor, this is where you further identify the history of the problem, predicament, or pain and look into the previous remedies or solutions that have been attempted but failed. As you progress through all five steps of this recipe, you’ll begin to see how the answer(s) to this question serves to build your audience’s anticipation about a new solution you’re about to reveal.

Ingredient 2. Write down the reason(s) why the problem continues, persists or lingers. How is it that they haven’t solved their problem, and why are they still stuck in the rut? Again, a few factual sentences will do.

Question 3: What’s actually possible?

In coaching parlance, this is called possibility thinking. This is where you set the stage for what life could be like – what could happen – when your audience’s problem, pain, or predicament is eliminated. You’ve got to go beyond stating the obvious. “The pain in your lower back will disappear,” is not enough. You must draw a picture — full of emotional details — of what is possible now that the pain is gone. Example: “You will be able to engage in activities (specify those here) you were unable to engage in because of your back pain,” or “You can accomplish all your goals and dreams because the pain is no longer there to stop you.” Then don’t forget the emotional benefit that extends from that: “Your relationships will improve and you’ll be happier.” This is the dramatic promise.

Ingredient 3. Write down what’s possible. Paint a picture of the way things will be when your prospect’s problems are solved. Again, a few sentences will do.

Question 4: What is different now?

How will things change once your prospects become your clients? This is where you explain who you are and how your product or service can help them, as well as what’s different about your offering that will eliminate their problem. This is where your unique selling proposition (USP) comes in. A USP is something that sets you, your product or service, or your business apart from every other competitor in a favorable way. It’s the competitive advantage that you proclaim to your prospects, customers, or clients.

Ingredient 4. Write a few sentences about what differentiates your product or service. Present just the substance – not the details.

Question 5: What should they do now?

If you answered the first four questions, and you know what your overall objective is for your website (is it buy right now? or to just to ask for more information?), you know what the answer to this question is. You simply tell your readers to do what you started out wanting them to do – that is, to sign up, pick up the phone, register, opt-in, or buy what you’re selling.

Ingredient 5. State clearly what you want your prospect to do. This is the call to action.

There you have it. Once you’ve answered these five questions, you have the starter recipe for building your web copy. What comes next is the kneading, rising and baking (a topic for another post!). If you have any questions about pulling your starter together, please leave a comment below.