Writing short copy that is effective and appealing is no cheap trick, and even the most skilled copywriters can go through some rough patches when working on a suitable tagline for their customers.
Still, that pesky form field is waiting for you to fill it - and the question remains: what should I write there?
Hopefully, these few tips might help.
#1 Know your hard skills
Run a quick search on any job platform, and look at people's profiles. You will surely find a plethora of taglines along the lines of reliable and on time and a passion for [random topic].
These kinds of taglines are just a waste of space, for 2 reasons:
Of course soft abilities like communication, flexibility, and empathy play a role in your relationship with a customer, and shouldn't be forgotten. However, remember that it is your hard skills that enable you to carry out a specific project successfully. If you're not a (hard) skilled professional, your courtesy and attention to details will be useless.
How to do this
Simply put: good ol' pen and paper (you'll need them later too). Think about a typical day, examine the tasks you perform, and how you do that. Jot down any skills that come to mind, any job-specific software tool you use, what areas of knowledge you rely on the most etcetera.
#2 Select your highlights wisely
Once you feel like your skills list is ready, it is time to cherry-pick your personal highlights, i.e. the most important point(s) your tagline needs to include to be relevant for you as well as your customers.
Remember that in a tagline every word counts, so it's essential to select something that really makes you stand out from the crowd.
How to do this
Run an advanced search on a job-specific platform, and narrow the search according to your own profile - search for people offering the same services you offer, with your characteristics (experience, languages, fields of expertise etc.).
Obviously focusing on certain skills rather than others would have an impact on your marketing efforts, but also on your target market. Take this step as a chance to rethink of your customers base and picture how it could change in the future, and use your considerations to cherry-pick your "top features" wisely. Also, don't forget to refer to your marketing personas to narrow the selection accordingly.
#3 Brainstorm like hell
This is the step you will probably enjoy the most (unless you end up crying in anxiety for the white page syndrome, that is). Now you got your key points (I would go for 1-2) sorted out, it's time to craft a message that is both informative and compelling.
Even though a tagline doesn't need to be a slogan to work, you surely want yours to be as gracious as possible, and in line with your brand image. To do so, you need to define your tone of voice, i.e. if you want your tagline to sound bold and dynamic, or friendly and caring, or determined and conservative, etc.
Pen and paper (again). It's time for you to write down any slogans, sentences, combination of terms, individual words etc. you can come up with with reference to your highlights and personality. Also, this is where your soft skills will emerge naturally, as how you write reveal your inner tone of voice (which sometimes is not in line with the one you chose for your image ...).
Don't be afraid to write down something silly or irrelevant - you'll skim that later. Also, feel free to mix and match your previous proposals to create other tagline options. Let creative juices and craze flow, as crazy ideas sometimes turn out to be good choices.
Note: don't worry if this step takes more than just a few hours. It is your professional profile we're talking about after all, so no rush.
#4 Skim & refine your options
Now you got some options, it's time for you to select your best tagline candidates.
Narrowing down your choices can be painful, as most of us tend to develop some kind of emotional attachment to ideas and concepts - still, it is necessary to avoid more pain later.
Ideally, you should come out of this phase with 2 or 3 candidates. If you don't, just go back to some more brainstorming.
Look at all the different solutions/proposals you came up with, and rule out:
- solutions which are too similar to your competitors' (refer to the advanced search)
- the obvious (in case you accidentally squeezed in some)
- proposals that might sound ambiguous (you want your tagline to be clear and sharp, don't you?)
- puns and extreme word play (might not work in other languages, or be perceived incorrectly)
- in general, all solutions that do not include a valuable highlight for the reader
#5 Test your options
You don't need to hire a market research agency to test your tagline options. All you need is a small panel of friends, family members or trusted colleagues willing to help you.
How to do this
Prepare a very basic worksheet including your tagline options, a field to fill in with your panel participant's favourite, and some space for comments. Ask people to provide you with their overall impression on the tagline they rank higher, and with a few comments on the other ones as well.
It might not be Shakespeare, nor the ultimate motto in the PR world, but if you did your homework now you have a tagline that reflects your skills and attitude ... which is much better than the old reliable and on time after all.