Homepage Hero Copy
“Speak softly and carry a big stick.”
26th US President Teddy Roosevelt said that – based on a West African proverb – referring to his philosophy on 20th foreign policy. The quote packs quite a punch, and shaped the history of U.S. politics, but would you believe it is also applicable to writing website copy?
In this post, we will discuss the ideology behind writing a potent and meaningful hero spot – the commander in chief of all website copy – as well as how to spot and correct one that is ineffectual.
The Squeaky Wheel does not get the Grease
The first step to writing a high-quality, attention-grabbing hero spot is to understand what a hero spot is meant to accomplish.
A hero spot is a one or two-sentence statement that clearly and concisely explains who your target audience is, the value you bring to your industry, and why the consumer should care.
Seems simple enough. So why is it so very hard to find a hero spot that actually does this?
The answer is rather straightforward. Professionals and amateur copywriters alike think that to cut through the noise of the advertising sphere they must be wittier than all other brands. Except the issue is that nearly every brand tries to do this. Humor sells, it’s true, but not when supply and demand are so out of balance.
When it comes to hero copy, the one who shrieks the loudest will not draw the most attention. If anything, the louder you yell, the more you’ll confuse your customer. Write plainly and back it up with your top-of-the-line service. That’s the key.
Your Hero’s Sidekick
As we said previously, the hero copy should explain who your target audience is, the value you bring, and why the target audience should care.
These three tenants are important, but what is not important is why your company exists. The hero spot is not the place for this. A hero spot should be a maximum of eight words (four or five is ideal) and trying to jam a short phrase with too much information is a recipe for a train wreck of a hero spot.
If you need to add more information, consider adding what Andrew Buck of Mighty Citizen calls a “sidekick” to your hero copy. A sidekick is a slightly longer sentence – ten to fifteen words – beneath your hero copy which flushes out what you do in a little more detail. You still should not be diving too much into your company’s history, but the sidekick is a good place to add a bit more detail and allows your hero copy to be slightly more ambiguous.
Here is a good example from the work boot distributor Boot Country:
The larger hero copy contains what they sell and who they sell it for, while the sidekick beneath explains they sell the consumer’s favorite brand in regular and special sizes (the value they bring). We like this example of a hero spot because it states plainly what the company does without trying to be overly clever.
A few that Miss the Mark
If you look around, you will see that many companies have hero spots on their homepages, and while most are acceptable, they often miss the mark.
Below are a few examples of companies with hero spots that are not terrible but could be improved.
Above is the hero spot for the popular motel chain Red Roof Inn. Their hero spot itself is fine, albeit not overly clear, but it’s the sidekick text we have a problem with here. The sidekick says almost the same thing as the hero, the only difference is it offers a free night at Red Roof Inn.
To improve this hero spot, first, we would make the hero copy itself clearer – something like “A motel that feels just like home,” then expand on this message in the sidekick, “Register, Rest + Repeat at Red Roof Inn and earn another night completely free!”
Here is an example from Ohio-based steel producer Cleveland-Cliffs. We like that the hero text, is very clear and tells the reader exactly who they are and who they sell to, but the issue is that both the hero copy and the sidekick copy are much too long.
Here is a revised version: “Cleveland-Cliffs: Producing Self-Sustaining Flat-Rolled Steel in North America.” Then in the sidekick, we can include more specific information: “Since acquiring AK Steel, ArcelorMittal USA and our completion of the Toledo Direct Reduction plant in 2020, Cleveland-Cliffs is the largest North American producer of high-quality flat-rolled steel. We start the manufacturing process with the extraction of raw materials and see it through to the manufacturing of steel products, tubular components, and stamping and tooling.”
Finally, here is an example from Hillerich and Bradsby, the company which produces the famed baseball bats, Louisville Slugger. We like that the hero copy is short and compact, but we feel it doesn’t really describe what the company does (the image of course helps), especially since people know the brand Louisville Slugger, but don’t necessarily know Hillerich and Bradsby creates them.
They could make baseballs, or sports drinks, or even just sponsor athletes. We don’t really know from their hero spot. Here is a revised version: “Powerful bats that pack a punch.” And likewise let’s improve the sidekick as well, “From little league to the majors, no one makes high-quality bats like Hillerich and Bradsby. Get the all-new 2022 Meta Fastpitch Bat and feel the difference in your swing today.”
Let your Hero Spot save the Day
A high-quality hero spot and sidekick are key to any website, especially if your brand is not nationally famous. While it is important to seize the reader’s attention, a hero spot that tries to do too much or be too creative will fall flat.
Other articles will suggest that your hero spot be “inspirational,” or “game-changing,” but what does this really mean? When is the last time a corporation inspired you? We would guess never. A much better strategy is to state plainly what you do and back it up with your superior quality and service.
“Speak softly and carry a big stick.”
At Legend Web Works we know writing a hero spot that works isn’t easy. It can be easier to opt for the more creative or pun-packed line. If you’re struggling to craft clear and concise hero copy that converts readers into customers, reach out to Legend Web Works today. We have a dedicated team of writing and social media professionals who will work tirelessly to get your site right for you.