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How to avoid a sh** storm of biblical proportions. A website marketing makeover.

by Paul Montreal. Average Reading Time: about 7 minutes.


I’m doing a marketing makeover on Fiona’s website. She’s a management consultant who’s new to working on her own. In her own words “I want a website to tell a professional story of who I am… but I feel like something is missing”. Well that’s exactly why I’m here. In this makeover you’re going to learn how much more clients care about themselves than us. (I’m listening to Skrillex while I work). So hold onto your ego, here are my top 6 tips for turning this website around…

Click for full size.

Click for full size.

1. Your website isn’t about you or how professional you are. It’s about your customers and their problems.

From Fiona’s application:

My goal is – “To have a website which reflects me and so potential clients are inspired and drawn to it and then keen to engage with me to see how I can help them. “

The reality is that clients aren’t drawn to you. They are drawn to what you can do for them.

They don’t go outside their own company just to hire someone who is professional. They go outside to hire someone who can solve unique problems that they can’t solve internally. It’s really a last resort for most companies. The only time they like doing it, is when they are really stuck, or they want to cover their own backs.

You’re about the 5th most important thing on their list.

Consider this – if I’m writing a sales letter, or a persuasive pitch of any sort – I won’t usually even consider talking about who I am, until I’ve answered at least 4 other questions first. Questions that are more important than me. I’m way down the list of what a customer cares about.

Start by asking – “What’s the problem?”

Your customers’ lives are dominated by the problem they are suffering. Without a strong problem, they aren’t looking for you, they don’t need you, so they don’t know you exist.

Their problem is what makes them hungry. It’s what has driven them to seek you out. It’s the bait you need to use to hook their attention.

Right now, your website is written from two perspectives. Your perspective as an individual, attempting to sound like a larger organisation. And your perspective as a professional, who has a box full of tools you can deploy.

If you embrace the idea that it’s not about you, or your tools, you can reposition the whole website from the customer’s perspective. From the perspective of “this is my problem, can you help?”.

Action: Start by listing the specific problems your clients are suffering. That’s their entry point into your world. That’s how they will actually be drawn deeper. That’s how you start to show empathy and gain trust. It’s how you should start your website copy. Your individual sales pages. And even your blog posts. E.g. “Two of my best managers are at each others throats, help!” or “We’ve had to let some of our staff go. The team are demoralised, I need to pull them together. What should I do?” or “Our staff are mainly volunteers. I’m struggling to get them committed to our goals. Can you fix this?”


2. Make it personal, make it human.

When we’re writing copy for our sites, especially sales copy, it’s really hard to speak naturally. We’re trying to talk to “the market” rather than an individual. And we’re trying to be “professional” or “persuasive” or something else that gets in the way of actually connecting.

But I want you to remember that the most effective form of communication is one human being genuinely trying to connect with another human being.

You are a person, not a company. The human reading your copy is a person, not an organisation.

Big companies actually go to great lengths to try to be more personal and intimate. While small companies often try to sound bigger, more corporate and professional. Neither tactic creates trust.

Your website starts with the line:

“Fiona McBride Consulting offers experienced advice and support to improve your organisation’s effectiveness through learning and development.”

How might we make that more human sounding, more intimate, less cold and abstract? Off the top of my head I’d start with something like…

“If you’ve got a problem with your people – key players who don’t get along, teams who are struggling to work together, or maybe you just need an unbiased 3rd party to help you bounce around management ideas – let’s talk. With 10 years corporate coaching experience at companies like Blah and Blah maybe I can help. Fiona McBride.”

You should know that most consultants get no business whatsoever from their dry, corporate sounding websites. They get it all from face-to-face contact in the real world, or through recommendation. That doesn’t need to be the case, but it often confuses people when they are starting out, and simply copying what they see other people doing.

Action: Look at each key piece of copy, including your tagline, introduction, and “about us” biography, and ask: How might I make this more human, less abstract? How can I put aside any need to sound more professional or bigger than I am. How can I speak more authentically as one human being, talking with another human being?

Click for full size

Click for full size

3. “I will strike the water of the Nile, and it will be changed into blood”. And if left untreated…

So we’ve already talked about putting your customers’ problems and challenges front and centre. But I want you to go further than that. There’s a totally unjustified desire by most people to try to jump right to the happy ending.

They don’t like talking about the problem and they certainly don’t want to talk about how the problem might get worse, if left untreated!

But that’s the very thing that’s motivating your customer to take action. Their drive comes from creating mental pictures of how their present situation could get worse. They don’t want to lose their job. They don’t want to have to sack people. They don’t want their project to fail.

Knowing that this is their motivating drive, you’ve got to acknowledge it. You can’t dive into telling them everything’s going to be ok, yet. It’s only going to be ok if they hire you to come in and fix things.

You’ve got to be able to review their situation or scenario and say – “Here’s where we stand. It’s not good and here’s how it could get worse if not treated…”

You’ve got to make it clear that one disaster often leads to another. After the Nile turned to blood, along came the frogs, and then the locusts, and the boils and all manner of biblical shit storms.

“Effective team work is an essential element of any organisation. Workshops for team building can be designed to strengthen, develop and motivate your team.”

Copy like this isn’t persuasive. You’re talking to people who run companies successful enough to hire consultants. It’s better to empathise with them, not patronise them. But be honest about the downside, if they fail to act.

Don’t be afraid to paint a picture of their nightmare, before you swoop in and solve it. Something like this…

“What started out as an effective and profitable team can be split down the middle, over something as simple as a misunderstanding between two members of staff. If left untreated the rot can quickly set in. Focus on your project goes out of the window as people take sides. Some seize the opportunity to fan the flames with their own issues, and the office politics spiral out of control. To avert disaster, and maintain control, we have a 5-step program to nip issues in the bud quickly and firmly, keeping your team together and getting your critical projects back on track with minimal disruption.”

You want your client nodding along as they read. Because if their challenge hasn’t already started a downward spiral, they’ve imagined it happening in their head.

The more effectively you can communicate your client’s problem back to them, the more likely they are to believe you actually have the skills to solve it.

Action: Look at each problem or training scenario. Do you jump right into bland promises of an ideal world? After you’ve identified each problem, add a sentence or two talking about how the problem will get worse if left untreated. Use a simple phrase like “If left untreated…” to amplify your customers’ internal drive and motivation to commit to a solution.


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