Abstract: Startup landing page guides, drop you in the middle of the building process, leaving out vital context. They tell you to copy what they do, tantalizing you with results, that you have no chance of attaining. They ask you to emulate, to parrot, and unfortunately you will do, because you don't know what you don't know. You lack deeper understanding of context, and the foundations of a landing page.

If you do not define nor declare the foundations of a landing page first, then you severely hamper the landing page objective. By establishing and working on the foundations first, the resultant information architecture defines when and what information you convey. The association between these units of information promotes narrative and cognitive flow, increasing understanding, credibility, relevance, and ultimately conversion rate.

Definition: By landing page, I mean a proper landing page: no outbound links, no navigation, made for a specific objective, segment, channel, etc, etc. I certainly don’t mean any page is a landing page

Images:Click to enlarge them.

Reading time: 34 minutes

1. Introduction

You present relevant benefits and values on a landing page to a targeted visitor. You use Value Propositions (VP), Unique Value Propositions (UVP), and copy. They have a micro-objective which is to persuade the visitor to agree with you. By persuading them, you attain the micro-objectives and the main objective.

But, there’s a problem.

Trying to persuade with no comprehension of the need for narrative and cognitive flow, can result in a landing page that doesn’t illuminate. Saying things an audience wants to hear, but with little to no attempt to convey how the solution works can result in the opposite of the desired objective.

My point isn’t don’t persuade. We have to persuade. My point is, persuasion isn’t the starting point. Coming from a place of persuasion can result in superficial landing pages due to a lack of substance, and information cohesion.

In some B2C niches, you can get away with the starting point being persuasion, although I wouldn’t start from there no matter the case. B2B, depending on the 2nd B (small business, mid-market, enterprise), results can be anywhere from relatively good, to an utter waste of time.

Don’t rely on just the benefits and values to get the audience over the line.

Benefits that don’t verify what brings them into existence, can appear as hype-based bullsh*t. Hollow promises like live faster, last longer, die harder.

How many times has your response to a landing page been a multitude of questions, if not eye-rolling, head-shaking, and laughter? Do you understand what they are and what they do? Do you understand how the solution is providing these benefits?

You may say as you are not the target audience, you lack the required experience and knowledge to fill in the gaps. Something the target audience may well have.

Maybe the target audience has had previous interactions and touch-points with the brand. Maybe market maturity means they need not cover those bases.

There are holes in my argument. I shouldn’t have jumped into the middle of things, with so many unknowns, so many undefined let alone undeclared factors. I should have started at the beginning, at the foundations.

Which is exactly where you should start.

2. The Foundations Of A Startup Landing Page

There are what I consider to be 3 foundational building blocks for a landing page. They are:

1. The Contextual Factors (CF)

2. The Key Narratives (KN)

3. The Overall Narrative (ON)

You must declare values for most of the CF first. From these values, you will get the KN. Then, from the KN, you will have the ON.

You base the journey from top to bottom on the KN, which is structured by the ON. If not, you’ll end up putting various UVP’s and VP’s to persuade. The information you share will struggle to gel with each other, and struggle to contribute to the bigger picture. These struggles are the direct result of attempting to make a landing page without addressing the foundations first.

The culmination of this is a landing page behaving like a trampoline.

This is why posts like: landing page examples, landing pages that convert; and things of that nature can lead you astray. You don’t know their foundations, but will be inspired by them, so you are essentially copying the end result of a long and detailed process. It’s the same thing with the landing page guides I’ve come across. They don’t start at the beginning, but instead, drop you in the middle.

2.1 The Contextual Factors

The CT are the first things to address. These factors cover the business, the market, and the audience to name but a few things. Define values for them before you design or build a landing page. The CF shown below are not exhaustive nor complete. Keep in mind that you may not be able to define every CF, such as number 7.

1. Domain
2. Type
3. Stage
4. Business Overall Goal
5. Business Strategy
6. Sales Model
7. Funnel Type/s
8. Market Penetration

1. Market maturity: Level of experience and proliferation of tech-solutions, acclimatization, and general minimum tech solutions must adhere to, domain knowledge, etc.
2. Competition Level
3. Competitors

a. Positioning
b. Product Categorization
c. UVP
d. VP

1. Product Categorization/s
2. Problem Addressing
3. Problem Preventing What End-Goal
4. Pain Points Addressing
5. Pain Points Preventing What Goals
6. Feature List
7. Feature Set
8. Characteristic
9. Feature/Set/Characteristic

a. Function
b. Outcome (Advantage/Benefit/Value/Goal)
c. Addressing What (Pain Point, Contributing Factor, Root Causes
d. How Addressing
f. How Contributing Towards Goal & End-Goal
g. Measurable Impact
h. Segment Appreciation

1. Audience
2. Segment
3. Segment Persona Name
4. Segment Type (User, Buyer, Buyer/User, Stakeholder)
5. Adopter Type (Innovator, Early Adopter, Early Majority, Late Majority, Laggard)
6. Traction

a. Total Customers
b. Paying Customers
c. Trial Users
d. Trial to Paying Rate
e. Churned Customers
f. Churn Rate
7. Level of Awareness (Problem Aware, Solution Aware, Product Aware, Most Aware)
8. Nurtured
9. Previous touchpoints
10. Personality type
11. Psychographic (motivations, objections, reservations, beliefs, etc)
12. Demographic
13. Overall Problem
14. Pain Points
15. Contributing Factors
16. Root Causes
17. Overarching Goal
18. End-Goal
19. Goals
20. Values
21. Benefits
22. Measurable Impact On End-Goal, Overall Goal, Goals, Benefit, Problem, Pain Points, Root Causes, Contributing Factors
23. Culture: Language tone, style and complexity, prevalent and well-known phrases and jargons, etc

This should be under point 2, but it deserves its own section. It is not just about presenting the relevant benefits and features to the right segment. It is also about the words you use, and the resonance and relevance with your audience. Where you sit in their heart and mind.

1. Tactic Type

a. Tactic Version
b. Position In Funnel
c. Covering Funnel Stages
d. Our Objective
e. Offering What
f. Visitor Objective
g. Benchmark Conversion Rate
2. Distribution Channel
a. Channel to use
b. Various targeting parameters
c. Audience traffic via the channel
d. Segment intent
e. Content
f. Type
g. Copy
h. CTA
3. Overall Conversion Rate Per Tactic Group

1. Segment / Tactic Group / Tactic

a. Cost To Produce
b. CTR: Click-Through Rate
c. CPC: Cost Per Click
d. CPL: Cost Per Lead
e. CPA: Cost Per Action
f. ROAS: Return On Ad Spend
g. CAC: Customer Acquisition Cost
h. Payback Period: CAC = Number Of Subscribed Months That Gives Equal Revenue From User
i. CLTV: Customer Lifetime Value

2.1.1. Declaring Values For Some Contextual Factors

2. Type: B2B SaaS

3. Stage: Early Stage

4. Business Overall Goal: Increase Revenue

7. Market Penetration: NA

1. Market Maturity: Growth [1]

2. Competition Level: High

4. Segment Type: Buyer/User

5. Adopter Type: Early Adopter [2]

7. Level of Awareness: Solution Aware [3]

8. Nurtured: No

9. Previous touchpoints: 0

2. Type: B2B SaaS

3. Stage: Early

4. business Overall Goal: Increase Revenue

7. Market Penetration: NA

Things to note:
1. I didn’t fill them all in, as this is just an example although I acknowledge I should do

2. There are ifs, buts, and maybes, I am ignoring them. This is not the time to be pedantic, nor is it time to argue with one’s self.

3. What I will ask are 3 questions:

a. Can this startup sell in person?
b. Why pour at the top when you leak so much at every other stage?
c. What signals are there that suggest automation and efficiency can be introduced?

4. Whatever my reservations are in this case, this startup wants to test ads. That’s fine. I am in favor of getting a benchmark, even when things look questionable.

2.1.2. Visualizing The Ramifications Of The Declared Values

Visualization 1

Taking into account:
6. Tactic Group

1. Tactic Type: Landing Page
b. Position In Funnel: 2 (MOFU)

Principal Thing To Note:

1. An early adopter will be Problem and Solution Aware, but not Product Aware, which is why they are placed in Funnel Stage 2: MOFU. Qualification in this stage results in them being Product Aware.

Visualization 2

Taking into account:
6. Tactic Group

1. Tactic Type: Landing Page
b. Position In Funnel: 2 (MOFU)
c. Covering Funnel Stages: 2 – 4
d. Our Objective: Convert To Trial User

Principal Thing To Note:

1. The objective is to convert the visitor to a trial user. The landing page has to cover Funnel Stages 2 – 4 because early adopters are not Product Aware, nor Most Aware. They will need to be qualified in (nudged through) 3 stages.

Visualization 3

Taking into account:
6. Tactic Group

1. Tactic Type: Landing Page
b. Position In Funnel: 2 (MOFU)
c. Covering Funnel Stages: 2 – 4
d. Our Objective: Convert To Trial User
2. Distribution Channel
a. Channel to use: Google Search Adwords
b. Segment intent: Transactional

Principal Things To Note:

1. The transactional intent is to purchase, buy, try, etc, indicating that the searchers know what they want, and want to use it now. Thus, the searchers are qualified in stages 0 – 3.

2. Searchers that use the targeted keywords have transactional intent, so they will see the ad. As aforementioned ignoring ifs, buts, and maybes, which in this case are the other ad factors that influence if the ad is shown, to whom, negative keywords, etc, etc.

3. Intent does not mean you are solely targeting early adopters in a growing market. You will also target non-early adopters in the market who are looking for a solution. But they are not looking for, nor willing to try this unknown early-stage startup.

This landing page is to start from a place that does not include any form of educational content, for it does not cover the Problem Awareness stage nor the Solution Awareness stage. It will start where the early adopters are, which is to qualify them in Product Aware, and nudge them 2 further stages across, to become Most Aware (Stage 4).

All other things being equal, the landing page should attain some trial users. And credit where it’s due, they are looking for their early adopters, who will provide them with a number of benefits. Many startups are casting nets into their general market.

Do I agree with this tactic at this point? No, I do not. I advocate learning above efficiency, knowledge above hacking, retention above growth; in the early stages. Not that you stop learning, what it means is, you do those things when it is time to. When the signals are strong, when systems and whatever else is in place to scale growth, rather than scale noise, scale churn, scale burn. Would I say no to testing it? Case by case.

Ignoring my stance, there are other issues because of the CF values.

Notably, not all early adopters are equally informed about the problem. They know they have a problem, they know they are not achieving their goal, but because they don’t know what they don’t know, they are susceptible to misinformation. Some don’t know the contributing factors, some don’t know the root causes. Some are making their own solutions, so there is a vast discrepancy in how informed the early adopters are about the problem, how Problem Aware they are.

Because some early adopters won’t have the required depth of problem awareness, you don’t know if they can fully appreciate what your solution does.

So, it would make sense for the landing page to cover the educational stages. If the market is mature, the problem is well-known and understood, then a landing page may not need to cover the educational stages when searching for early adopters.

The CF has one change to it, and I will explain in more detail later why that change in this situation is worth following.

Visualization 4

Taking into account the recommended change:
6. Tactic Group

1. Tactic Type: Landing Page
b. Position In Funnel: 2 (MOFU)
c. Covering Funnel Stages: Change from 2 – 4 to 0 – 4
d. Our Objective: Convert To Trial User
2. Distribution Channel
a. Channel to use: Google Search Adwords
b. Segment intent: Transactional

Principal Things To Note:

1. If the CF values were different, we would need to assess the viability of a landing page covering so many stages.

One Key Narrative in this case is from Problem Aware to Most Aware, because the landing page has to cover Stage 0 to Stage 4.

There are additional Key Narratives due to the declared values for the CF.

2.2 The Key Narratives Of A Startup Landing Page

The Key Narratives are the start and end-points defined by the CF values:

1. From What They Know to What They Don’t Know

2. From Their Present to Our future

3. From Their World to Our World

4. From Pain Points to Goals

5. From Problem to End-Goal

6. From What They Are to What They Will Be

7. From Problem Aware to Most Aware

Because the end-points stop at Stage 4: Most Aware qualification, the visitor will have signed up to be a trial user, thus they are in Our World. A world where they attain their End-Goal, and all the rest of the good stuff your solution delivers.

2.2.1. Your Solution Is The Conduit

You’ll notice the solution isn’t mentioned, but it is in each one. It’s the arrow itself. It is how the changes occur, how they enter the new future. In our world, they reach their goals, their end- goal, etc.

Not that you don’t mention your solution. You mention it but within the context of the change to the audience and their situation.

Your solution is the bringer of change. What’s it like in this new future? What’s it like to achieve these goals? What are they in this new future? Talk about the change, show the change.

Which is why it’s about the benefits and not the features.

But that’s not true.

Don’t get sucked into the mindset that it’s all about the benefits. Dangling carrots explain nothing. They incentivize and persuade but they don’t illuminate. They get the heart racing but the cynic rising. Your audience needs to understand where the benefits are coming from.

Your solution is a medium to deliver the audience from one place to the next. The tech is just an efficient, scalable medium for the solution. To increase understanding, to increase credibility, you have to cover the journey. The bit in-between before and after.

We can’t jump from Their Present to Our Future for we could lose the visitor. We have to move step-by-step from What They Know to What They Don’t Know.

These steps are the Overall Narrative.

2.3 The Overall Narrative Of A Startup Landing Page

The Overall Narrative is based on the typical questions a visitor asks on a landing page. These questions correspond to the various stages in the funnel as shown in the following diagram.

2.3.1. The Questions That Define The Overall Narrative

A visitor on a landing page asks Is This For Me? Probably always asking that, but anyway… This question is typically asked via a series of questions, bar one (question 3), as they scroll down the page.

The questions that define the Overall Narrative are:

1. What Are You?

2. Who Are You For?

3. What Do You Know About Me?

4. What Do You Do?

5. How Do You Do It?

6. What’s In It For Me?

7. Why Should I Believe You?

8. How Do I Get It?

Your landing page needs to answer these questions.

Many landing pages do not. Instead, they mess around with platitudes, hype, endless benefits, how awesome they are, how awesome their clients are, how I’m a hero who can’t get the job done.

Focusing on Question 3 What Do You Know About Me? As far as I know, no one has ever asked that question, but I use it to emphasize insight and empathy must be shown, and I do that by standing right next to them. It is vital you show your visitor, you know them better than they know themselves within the context of the problem. Why?

Taking into account the CF values: no previous touchpoints, no market penetration, no brand awareness, and all the other factors I defined mean, for multiple reasons the starting point has to be in their world. How can you expect someone to believe the future you propose when you can’t articulate the present they live in? You are presenting a new solution to them, link What They Know to What They Don’t Know, or they will lack appreciation and understanding.

There is another question they ask: Is This What I Expected? They are expecting something, which is shaped by the marketing collateral that sent them to the landing page. Thus, what sent them to the page and what is on the page, has to be consistent, message match. This expectation has to be met the instant they are on the page.

The following image shows how the ON will dictate what information is on the page. With the ON you have to talk about the solution.

The Key Narratives have to conform and fit within the Overall Narrative. The next image shows how all the KN fit within the ON.

To bring someone who doesn’t know our world into it, you have to go to their world and bring them with you. They won’t come of their own accord. Why would they? How are they supposed to know that you understand their situation, that you understand them? You want the visitor to believe what you are saying, but why should they?

They are jaded and cynical. You are nobody. They don’t have the time nor the inclination to figure s**t out. The onus is on you, not them.

Another important reason you talk about the problem is to position them.

Some of you may well guess the landing page will be based on PAS (Problem Agitation Solution) [5]. So, why didn’t I just start from there? That is not the starting point. Context and granularity are important. Once you get a holistic view, you will cut things out for good reason, rather than cut out what you don’t know for no reason.

So now, let me briefly talk about an imaginary problem that is p***ing you off.

3. The Imaginary Problem Vexing You

One thing I need to make clear is that I pain points as one of two things:

1. A pain point is a contributing factor or root cause of the problem. By addressing the pain points, you address the problem to whatever degree. Where a pain point is a contributing factor, then Root Cause Analysis [6] should be implemented to find the root causes.

2. A pain point because of the problem. If there is no problem, this pain point does not exist. The only way to remove the pain point is to resolve the problem.

So, this is the problem vexing you:

To summarize the image:

• 1 problem
• 3 pain points:
o 2 of them cause the problem to exist
o Pain Point 3 is because of the problem

Two rival solutions can help you. You go to their landing page…

Solution 1 is explained like so:

Solution 2 is explained like this:

Maybe I should have drawn a clown nose on Solution 1 for greater emphasis. Anyway, acknowledging that an inability to explain need not mean the solution doesn’t work, it does bring up numerous questions:

1. Who do you think has a greater understanding of the problem?

2. Who shows how their solution will work?

3. Whose explanation makes more sense?

4. Who do you believe will be able to aid you?

Solution 2 increases cognitive understanding and emotional resonance, by providing an explanation that links to the problem, pain points, contributing factors, and root causes. This means:

1. Their solution is using what you know, to introduce you to what you don’t know. What you know is your problem, and the pain points, and maybe contributing factors and root causes. What you don’t know is their solution.

2. Explains in more detail and shows before and after to compare

Let’s show the problem on a landing page. Other Contributing Factors & Root Causes are not shown.


Problem on a landing page:

The arrows here signify narrative flow rather than cause and effect, which is why they point not towards the problem, but away.

To convey Solution 2 would be problematic because we have to abide by the ON. We can’t ignore what people ask at each point, nor can we ignore the amount of information they are expecting in response.

Question 4 is What Do You Do? Would you tell a visitor all of that in reply to this question? No, you wouldn’t. Too much detail and it would be a jump, not a step.

Ease them into our world. Structure the information as bite-size chunks, using a macro-micro manner of sharing information. Facilitate cognitive flow, and build up their knowledge about Solution 2.

Goal 1 Goal 2 End-Goal Goal 3

Solution Resolves



PP1 & 2, Problem


Solution Resolves How

Address RC of PP1, thereby addressing the CF

Address PP2

Address PP1 & 2, which are RC & CF of Problem

Address Problem

Solution Provides

Benefit / Advantage so PP1 doesn't block pursuit of Goal 1

Benefit / Advantage so PP2 doesn't block pursuit of Goal 2

Benefit / Advantage so Problem doesn't block pursuit of End-Goal

Benefit / Advantage as Problem doesn't block pursuit of End-Goal

Solution Enables

Attainment of Goal 1

Attainment of Goal 2

Attainment of Goal 1 & 2, therefore attain End-Goal

Attainment of End-Goal, therefore attain Goal 3

Now we have structure and modularization. It fits in with what information to share and when, as defined by the ON. We can visualize that on the landing page as follows, elaborating where needed.

These elaborations include more detail to increase narrative and cognitive flow. You start from what they know and move forward by linking the unknown to the known. There is also the mention of goals and benefits. Why? The eternal “So What?”, we have to answer it.

4. Information Architecture: Macro-Micro & Sequential

When sharing information build on what the audience knows, and/or build on what you said. By increasing the interconnections between informational units, you promote understanding and retention.

Some information will prompt a visitor to update what they know to accommodate and slot in the new information. [7] I am reluctant to call these units of information as schemas [8], primarily because it isn’t knowledge yet, and it could be false knowledge.

Like with memories. To store them and increase retention, you associate what you don’t know with what you know. [7] You repeat things to facilitate retention and understanding, which is why there is a certain amount of repetition in the landing page as well. But repetition, like revision, is boring, so information is presented from a different perspective or taken in a different direction.

If not, there will be gaps in cognitive and narrative flow, because the visitor has no frame of reference.

In the image you can see some narrative links, but it lacks granularity.

Increasing granularity we get:

4.1 Information On A Startup Landing Page

The information on a landing page has to justify its inclusion and verify its relevancy.

Justify: Why are we sharing this information on the page?

Verify: Does this feature address a relevant pain point, deliver a relevant advantage, provide a relevant benefit, etc.

The Problem is on the page because we know the problem afflicts this segment. We need not verify the problem, we know it, they know it. Relevancy? We wouldn’t be here if the problem wasn’t relevant, so it goes on the page.

The solution is a different story. They know nothing about it. They don’t know why it is on the page, and they don’t know if it can justify its existence, or verify relevancy. How will you justify and verify, so the visitor understands not only why it exists, but just as importantly clarify it addresses the problem?

Link it to the problem, to the pain points, to the contributing factors, and the root causes. From that build on the information to justify/verify in regards to benefits, advantages, values, goals, and end-goal.

If a pain point is on the landing page, then show how your solution addresses the root cause and contributing factors, show the change, show the results (benefits, advantage), show the outcome (goal, end-goal). Do this within the ON, to further foster understanding, and retention, rather than a deluge that is in through one ear and out the other.

The colored arrows in the following images show how some information in the problem informs and aids in presenting the solution, within the ON. Please note, I have amalgamated all pain points into one for illustrative purposes, and because there was no need for the images to be longer than need be.

With the How Do You Do It section:

Does this mean that you must show how every benefit is linked to a pain point or problem? No, because you have multiple links and narratives you can get away with some links not present. Ultimately, the benefits (and whatever else) shown are the ones the audience cares about.

For example, you may well only need to describe the problem and two pain points. So, we must show how they are addressed and link the appropriate benefits and features to them.

Other benefits need not be linked to their respective pain points, because of the macro-micro links within each section. Macro-micro links can be between title and sub-title, or sub-title and copy, or title and copy. Thus, a benefit not linked to a pain point can still be linked to the problem or the solution.

These are guidelines, not rules. It’s for you to think about. Adhere to them when you have reason to and discard when you have reason to.

However, this is not the time to cut things out. You are structuring the data in accordance with the narratives. You are putting the building blocks in place, the time to chisel and sculpt is in the positioning and copywriting stage.

The building blocks will enable a visitor to appreciate and understand the information you share because you present it in the following manner:

a. Build on what they know
b. Build on what you previously said
c. A macro-micro manner of conveying, ie big-picture small details
d. Modular, self-contained information that makes sense on its own but is also part of something bigger
e. A narrative and a logical flow

In the next section, you will see the final formulated version of the landing page.

5. Landing Page Information Architecture: Early Stage - PAS Framework

Behold the perfect landing page. Boll***s. Anybody who comes close to saying this is ignorant or a charlatan. So, this is for those who want to create a landing page which is not the final resting place, but rather, solid ground on which to start their expedition.

To use the image, generate the information that each box asks of you, then move to the next box. Some boxes have more than one arrow, so you follow one to the end, then the other. The information to generate is also clearly stated in section.

The point is to get the skeletal structure of information that is linked in various ways, so you have a large pool of structured core information adhering to the narrative. Later you assess how-to amalgamate in various ways. That is the positioning and copywriting stage. It is not at this stage.

5.1 Section 1: Header - 3 Questions

The questions in this section are:

1. Is This What I Expected?
2. What Are You?
3. Who Are You For?

What is the objective of these 3 things? It isn’t to get them to download, sign-up, etc. There is no CTA nor Action button. New visitor, new startup, no brand recognition, no market penetration, no previous touchpoints, why would they sign-up at this point? It’s to get them to read more.[9]

1. Is This What I Expected?

You shaped their expectations with whatever you said to get them to come here. Now you have to meet those expectations. You can use the header text or sub-header text to provide that relevance, or you have an additional line to message match.

2. What Are You?
3. Who Are You For?

If you don’t use the header and sub-header to answer question 1, then you use them to answer questions 2 and 3.

There are several things you can use, combined or not. These include:

  • Product Category
  • Audience segment
  • Description
  • UVP
  • Problem
  • Pain Point
  • Contributing Factor / Root Cause
  • Benefit / Advantage / Value
  • Goal
  • End-Goal
  • Overarching Goal (be careful with this one, can be a bit of a stretch, and may well be rinsed to death, so can come across as too sales-y)
  • Vision (careful with this one as well, can be wishy-washy, admirable but laughable head in the clouds, the elevating humanity one mother-ship at a time kind)
  • Reservation / Objection
  • Motivation
  • Evaluation Factor
  • Measurable Impact / Results

Considering the CF values, I recommend keeping things clear and straight forward:

  • Header Text: What Are You? – product category
  • Header Sub-Text: Who Are You For? – description of the solution, with a UVP and the segmented audience
  • Header Image: the image should be something relevant, sounds obvious, until you come across another stock image of people smiling, or stiff suits looking at a highly informative chart. Show what you sell unless there is good reason to delay it. So, maybe a screenshot, or a metaphorical visualization.

5.2 Section Bullsh*t

This section annoys me. Classic social proof. People copying because they saw someone else do it. Where is social proof used in the funnel? It’s not TOFU, yet the second section on a landing page before the Problem Awareness section is about social proof, sheesh.

A person you reached out to comes to your site. Instead of you talking to them about them, building a relationship, a rapport, an understanding, etc, you boast. You try to persuade them with your awesome clients. They don’t know what you do, certainly if you are using nonsensical tag-lines. or positioned like a latter-day messiah come to be all things to all people.

The visitor has got no idea if you can help them, and instead of you talking to them about them, you are getting others to speak on your behalf. And not only speak on your behalf, but to persuade them not based on illumination, but less palatable things. They haven’t remotely made up their mind about you, so this attempt at persuasion is off in timing and taste.

This doesn’t mean don’t use credibility signals, ie approved by, regulated by, member of, etc. Even then, I prefer to put the audience first.

5.3 Section 2: Problem - What Do You Know About Me?

Information To Generate:

  • Problem Description
  • How & Why Problem Cause End-Goal Failure, Include Pain Points
  • Measurable Impact (Evolution Factors) of Problem
  • Problem Outcome (Results of Failed End-Goal)
  • Measurable Impact (Evaluation Factors) of Failed End-Goal

Repeat As Many Times As Is Needed

  • Pain Points Due to Failed End-Goal
  • Pain Points Outcome Description
  • Measurable Impact (Evaluation Factors)
  • Pain Points Which Are CF/RC
  • How & Why Influence Problem with Measurable Impact
  • Pain Points Outcome
  • Measurable Impact (Evaluation Factors)
  • CF/RC of Pain Points
  • How & Why Influence Pain Points with Measurable Impact
  • CF/RC Outcome
  • Measurable Impact (Evaluation Factors)

Show you know them and the situation they’re in. Show that you know their problem, possess clear insight, and deep understanding. Show that you empathize with the audience at worst, and at best, have lived with and through the problem yourself.

Maybe even usage of the at times blatant and shameful (in my book anyway), “I was like you once”. Dig into the contributing factors and root causes, and bring them up as well. The best way I can summarize this is, in order to resonate with another, you have to show a part of your humanity.

Hopefully, they will re-live the pain. But by re-living, embracing, truly feeling, and the unfolding acceptance, there is a sense of closure and the healing process can begin. No, it doesn’t. You have a solution to sell. So, you want them to feel the frustration, the desolation, and the anguish. A few tears would be nice. If only a solitary one, make sure it runs down to leave a glistening trail. Or a fat one that hangs perilously on eyelid’s edge, that leaves you pondering the consistency of gravity. (This is some strange sharing of one’s humanity).

Trigger specific memories so the associated emotions are brought to the surface. Whether or not you use words that are emotive, depends. Sometimes. My preference is not to do that. I want them to relive, but not by telling them what they feel. I can’t compete with their memories. And it feels a little slimy. However, if the segment disposition requires things to be spelled out, then spell it out.

You are tenderizing them, getting them ready to more fully appreciate the solution. How can you expect them to savor and truly appreciate the sweet if there is no sour? Get them to the boil, then leave to simmer, add a dash of “I was like you once”, and then onto the next section.

Ignore the last line, the “I was like you x number of years ago” gets on my nerves. There are only so many times you can work out that 10 years ago, Mr or Miss Charlatan was barely in their teens, without getting jaded. Although, If it works and it isn’t slimy, then who cares what I think. In that situation, I wouldn’t either.

5.4 Section 3 - 5

1. What do you do?
2. How do you do it?
3. What’s in it for me?

Does that flow to you, or not? Shall I tell you how to do something, before I tell you what to do? Are you able to understand what’s in it for you, if you don’t know how things work? When it comes to appreciating what’s in it for you, you may well not need to understand how things work.

Taking into account the CF values, it is definitely needed, but in some domains, like in the more emotive/impulsive parts of B2C, sometimes you don’t even need to cover how you do it.

However, the audience segment will dictate how much information you share. Too much can cause friction and drag. Too little can cause leakage.

5.5 Section 3: Solution Introduction - What Do You Do?

Information To Generate:

Repeat As Many Times As Is Needed

  • Solution Does What
  • Reduction/Removal of Problem
  • Benefits of Reduction/Removal
  • Attain End-Goal
  • Benefits of End-Goal Attained
  • Reduction/Removal of Pain Point x
  • Benefits of Reduction/Removal
  • Value/Goal
  • Benefits of Goal Attained

I am not talking about such 'gems' like explain your startup in 10 words, 5 words, or Yoga poses. I am not asking you to scrub all nuance and intricacies from your startup. I am not asking you to write something so mothers and grandmothers can understand it, unless they are the target audience. Nor am I asking you to repeat what a helpful but irrelevant (in terms of either domain experience or target audience) person told you in some forum.

Now that the visitor has been warmed up, the contrast between the old and new is enhanced. Information is presented by linking it to the things the audience knows, i.e. problem, pain-points, goals, end-goal. Frame the benefits as the opposite of the pain points, as well as on their own without the comparison.

Show the future, but talk about it as if it is the present, as if it is happening right now. When it comes to benefits include the resultant outcome, the emotional and psychological state of being.

The difference between Goal and Value: Value is something positive that is not the Goal. Like benefit? Well, I wanted a distinction between positive that aids in goal attainment, and positive that supplements or complements that comes after goal attainment. Like benefit alongside Goal? Alright smart-ass, like benefit alongside Goal.

5.6 Section 4: Solution How It Works - How Do You Do It?

Information To Generate:

Repeat As Many Times As Is Needed

  • Solution Address Problem How
  • Solution Does What?
  • Outcome of Solution Usage
  • Opposite of Problem or Goal x Benefits
  • Feature/Feature Set Address Pain Point x, CF or RC
  • Feature/Feature Set Does What
  • Results of Feature/Feature Set
  • End-Goal Attained

You’re asking someone to put their money where your mouth is, yet you can’t even be bothered to put your mouth there in the first place. I can understand if you’re selling Leviathan oil, but you’re not. That’s how it comes across though. Not credible.

This section is for those that want to go deeper. Beyond the paradigm-shifting, epoch-defining, and other such entrepreneurial nonsense. Just state clearly, how your startup delivers the goods. Cut out the re-defining and the re-imagined. Drop what you believe, unless you’re selling kool-aid, and want to start a cult.

This is the technical part of the landing page, where benefits are connected to the features that provide them, and how those things help to get the user towards the goals and end-goal. Images here will be of the solution. Provide detail, to substantiate the inner workings of the solution.

5.7 Section 5: Benefits - What's In It For Me?

Information To Generate:

Repeat As Many Times As Is Needed

  • Benefit x
  • Positive Journey to Goal x
  • Goal x/Value x Attained
  • Benefits of Goal x Attained
  • Measurable Impact
  • Benefits Overall

End-Goal, again repeat as needed

  • End-Goal/Value End-Goal Attained
  • Benefits of End-Goal Attained
  • Measurable Impact
  • Overarching Goal/Value Attained
  • Benefits of Overarching Goal Attained

This section has a positive spin because we don’t need to validate how the solution works, nor link it directly to the problem and pain points. Thus, this section is about the benefits, value, goals and end-goal facilitated by the solution. There is also an opportunity to mention the overarching goal, which is the big grand visionary goal.

5.8 Section 6: Proof - Do I Believe You?

The place to use social proof signals, such as testimonials (with photo and name), client logos, etc. Stop the laughable use of logos where there is the flimsiest of, and I am hesitant to even use the word, connection. Same thing with the featured in, and supported by, sheesh. You once used a walking frame made by Google, doesn’t mean Google supports you.

5.9 Section 8: CTA - How Do I Get It?

Mentioning the obvious, althogh it might not be obvious to the visitor: this section tells visitors what to do next. Actionable value-oriented CTA, let them know what they will gain by clicking on the Action button.

5.10. Other Sections

Sometimes, there will be a need for more information, those things typically cover:

  • FAQ: address additional reservations and objections:
  • Cost: address with a pricing table
  • Comparison TableHow you compare to the competition
  • Features List Does this have the other things I need, typically could be considered the bread and butter that all solutions in the niche need to have
  • Pricing Plan Comparison: what do I get in a plan, will I be left hanging with most relevant features in the most expensive plan
  • Additional CTA: Sometimes I might put in another CTA, after Section 3 or 4.

You are looking to get them to sign up for a trial. You are not looking to make a sale here, so an attempt to fully inform may backfire and work against the primary objective. Time, place, order; don't jump the gun.

6. Final Formulated Landing Page:
Early Stage - PAS Framework With Notes

The final image for reference.

At the end of this exercise, you will have structured raw data that meets various criteria. However, it will still be lacking many things. That’s when you will take into account positioning and copywriting to further hone and refine.

You’ll sculpt the raw data to more tightly fit with a particular segment, by incorporating motivations, objections, cultural stuff, asking the industrial version of “So what?”, etc. You know what to say, but you won’t know how to say it. Yet. I'll get round to finishing the other part to this guide at some later date.

To not leave you hanging, I’ll share one link for each topic:

An excellent guide to writing copy for landing pages by Joanna Wiebe: https://stripe.com/atlas/guides/landing-page-copy

Positioning, April Dunford knows her stuff: https://aprildunford.com/

7. Test, Test, Test

Landing pages are tests. You use them to gain knowledge at this stage, well every stage really, but this stage especially. I say this because I see startups attempting to run before they can walk. Pouring at the top, while they leak at every other stage in the funnel. Don’t do that.

As for what works and doesn’t work, case by case. Control page can be too long sometimes, plus, what you want to say, and what the audience needs to hear can be different. Takes time to hone in, part of the journey. Experiment, take sh*t on the chin, par for the course.

Test, benchmark, learn. But work on your funnel bottom up. Work with your early adopters who are your shortest sales cycle, your lowest hanging fruit, and from them sort out some of the content you need in the funnel, what you need on the on-boarding side of things, etc, etc.

Retention above growth. Scale when the thing you are scaling is signal and not noise. When you are scaling revenue or market penetration, and not churn and burn.

8. Stay In The Loop For Additional Guides

This is part 1 of a multi-part guide. Other parts will added to this guide as and when. You can subscribe to stay in the loop.

9. Further Reading / Footnotes

[1] Market Maturity: https://www.inc.com/encyclopedia/industry-life-cycle.html

[2] Adopter Types: https://www.amazon.com/Diffusion-Innovations-5th-Everett-Rogers/dp/0743222091

[3] Level Of Awareness: https://www.amazon.com/Breakthrough-Advertising-Eugene-M-Schwartz/dp/0887232981

[4] I am somewhat fluid with the funnel, and it will change in various places depending on if the growth is product-led or not, ie an MQL-SQL-PQL funnel, or MQL – PQL – SQL funnel. Sometimes there will only be 1 BOFU and 2 MOFU, depends on how granular one needs to be, and how much is lost by not being granular. Anyway, have to credit Dave McClure for the AARRR part of the funnel. MQP = Markeing Qualified Lead. SQL = Sales Qualified Lead. PQL = Product Qualified Lead. https://www.slideshare.net/dmc500hats/startup-metrics-for-pirates-long-version

[5] Based on PAS (Problem – Agitation-Solution) by Dan S. Kennedy: https://www.amazon.com/Dan-S-Kennedy/e/B000AP7EBS?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2&qid=1583828930&sr=1-2

[6] Root Cause Analysis: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69XBUdEzKI8

[7] Look into things like Cognitive Association, Memory Assimilation, Accommodation: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neo-Piagetian_theories_of_cognitive_development

[8] Schema Theory: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schema_(psychology)

[9] It's to get them to read more. Based on purpose of the first line is to read the next line:

I recommend reading up about Means-End Theory, Means-End Analysis, Means-End Chains, Laddering: As far as I can remember I first came across it in this paper:

Two other things I recommend you check-out:

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, by Robert B. Cialdini PHD.: https://www.amazon.com/Influence-Psychology-Persuasion-Robert-Cialdini/dp/006124189X

When less is more: Empirical study of the relation between consumer behavior and information provision on commercial landing pages. In a nutshell, less information increased conversion rate. Lack of context, but still interesting:https://www.researchgate.net/publication/324965555_When_less_is_more

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