I’m doing a marketing makeover on Matthew’s website. He’s a mentalist. Like Patrick Jane in “The Mentalist” or Derren Brown in real life. He messes with people’s minds for fun and profit. Most of his work comes through word of mouth, so he’d like to improve his reach, especially through Google and his website. In this makeover you’re going to learn how similar marketing and mentalism are. I’m listening to “The Thomas Crown Affair” movie soundtrack while I work. So, hold on to your free will, here are my top 6 tips for turning this website around…
1. Make each communication a complete self-contained sales pitch.
I land on the homepage, it’s clean, simple and it’s obvious what I should do, play the video. In 1.40 mins the video achieves a lot, so we’re off to a great start.
In the video I get to see who you are, so I can start to develop a level of familiarity and trust. I get a very clear sense of where you are positioning yourself in the market. You’re dressed for a smart event in the big city, not a birthday bash down the local pub.
And the music accompanying your video also does a great job of positioning you. I’m getting “The Thomas Crown Affair”, which as well as being a very stylish movie, is all about a very wealthy bored dude trying to find something or someone to keep him entertained.
Within the video you also flash me a series of short testimonials from major corporate clients, starting with Google. Other people trust you and hire you, which makes me trust you. This is superb.
So you achieve a lot with this video. You communicate that you’re looking for big corporate clients in the city, who have money. You show who you are, you show us who trusts you already. It has bags of style but doesn’t take itself too seriously.
But how could we go further?
It seems to me that this video is coming from the position of someone who is already “in the know”. Someone who has 10 mentalists on a list and they’re just trying to decide which one to pick. “I like the look of this guy, and I love that song, it feels right, lets go with him”. That’s too clean cut for me.
Most sales decisions are far “messier” than that. There’s a lot more fear and uncertainty involved. There are a few questions that the video doesn’t even attempt to answer, that many of your prospective customers are going to have. I’m a big fan of making any communication complete. You can concentrate a pitch, but you can’t leave out vital ingredients.
Let’s consider a few of the questions or concerns a prospect might have…
- What exactly is mentalism, what exactly do your services involve? The video itself communicates nothing but card tricks, which are shown 3 times. With vague testimonials that hint at something to do with the mind, using phrases like “mind blowing and sleight-of-mind”. But the basic question “what IS it?” is left unanswered.
- What exactly should the guests of my event expect? Is this going to be suitable? Is it going to shock / offend / embarrass / insult anyone? The basic question “what will I get?” is left unanswered.
- As the person making the booking decision, how can I guarantee that this decision will reflect well on me, and not damage my reputation, or worse get me fired? The basic question “is it a safe bet for me?” is left unanswered.
Action: Whether these questions are all answered in the video, they need to be answered in the overall pitch. And as the video is really just a condensed version of the pitch, they should at least be touched upon. You can do this without having to reshoot. Even if you inserted one sentence to cover each of those topics, just as you have with the testimonials. Then end the video with a call to action. Don’t just send them back to where they are, give them a url to DO something, download something, start the process.
2. Switch the perspective of the whole site from you, to them.
Your website is called “whoiscooper.com” and your headline is “Matthew Cooper, Mentalist.”
But the person hiring you doesn’t actually care about you. They care about what you can do for them.
Who is Cooper? > Why should I hire Cooper? > Will Cooper get me fired? > Will Cooper make me look good?
See how quickly the internal dialogue of your customer switches from You to Me, Me, Me. The sooner you can help them work out how you are actually a good thing for them, the better. Don’t make them work for it. We don’t like to work for things.
Instead of focusing on you, imagine a headline that was written to appeal to the person most likely to be hiring you instead. Such a headline might look more like a testimonial. Something like this…
“For NYC’s biggest event of the year, there was simply no room for mistakes. So I had to hire a consummate professional to entertain our discerning audience – Mentalist and Magician Matthew Cooper.”
That communicates so much more than “Matthew Cooper, Mentalist”. It covers a lot of the fears and worries of the person hiring you and it positions you at the top. It’s also packed with important keywords for you. “NYC”, “hire”, “mentalist”, “magician”. “Matthew Cooper” is still in there, but at the end. That’s right where you belong from their perspective, you are a means to their bigger, more personal goals of corporate domination. The source of your power, is being the solution to their “how to fill an event” problem.
Action: There are probably 20 different headlines you could create in a similar fashion, approaching your customer from different angles. Put yourself in their shoes and have a go. Create a series of headlines that will stop them dead in their tracks and have them thinking – “This is our man!”. Don’t worry about it being a long headline. It’s likely one of the few things people are guaranteed to read. A/B test the most promising few, until you find out which one actually prompts your customers to take the most action or explore your site for the longest.
3. Know who your customer is, inside and out.
I’d work on creating a document that gave them all the possible reasons why hiring you is the guaranteed way for them to make their event a roaring success. Remember, this is not a fan page you’re creating for people who enjoyed your performance. This is a sales page that should be focused on the small group of people who are likely in the market to hire you.
I don’t know your business intimately, but I’d guess those people fall into a few narrow categories.
- a) Executives who’ve seen you elsewhere and want you at their event.
- b) Assistants who have been tasked to put on an event, but it isn’t their primary role.
- c) Professional events co-ordinators, whose job involves regularly hiring talent.
If there are others, feel free to add them. The point is, get to know the motivations of these individual groups so that you can speak to them individually and directly through your website. Know their needs and know their fears and have a plan for maximising your connections with each.
Lets quickly look at each and see if we can come up with a rough plan.
a) Executives at existing events.
I imagine some events are filled with potential clients. So the question becomes – how do you make sure those people remember you after the event? It may be 6 weeks, 6 months, or 6 years after the event that they are in a position to hire you. You have to be pro-active. Do these events often include gift bags? Can you get in on the gift bag with a relevant reminder of who you are? Maybe a personalised deck of cards with instructions on how to perform a particular mentalism trick? Something unique to you.
How would people from such an event use Google to find you after the fact? That’s a perfect opportunity to create specific keyword focused landing pages. Many photographers already cover events. Can you team up with a photographer to document the merriment of each event, to capture and store the “proof” of the fun that happened, and your role in it? Something that people will want to share and tag themselves in on social media, after the event?
Imagine someone searching for “the magician at the google xmas party new york 2011”. You want to be on the other end of that search query. When they can remember the event. But can’t remember your name. Seeing as there won’t be much Google competition for such narrow searches, it should be easy for you to create individual pages that dominate these search terms.
b) Executive Assistants.
These people are most scared to mess up. And in my experience, far more people than you imagine are “muddling through” even at a very high level. You’re the pro who knows more about events than they do. So be their guide, be their support, be the professional, not just the talent. Use your knowledge of events in general to help them pull off a great one, with you centre stage. This is where you create your guide… “Top 15 things that will make your corporate event go off without a hitch.” When you out teach the competition, when you show them that you really care about their needs, not just getting paid, you’ll win a lot more business.
You always have to cultivate long term relationships in any business. Today’s assistants are often tomorrow’s executives. As you climb the ladder, so do the people on the other side of your transactions. And so do their companies. People gain more power, companies gain bigger budgets. So, help the people who are in a position to hire you to do their job more effectively, see them as partners, acknowledge that you really want to help them put on the best event possible and they’ll reward you in the long term.
c) Professional Events Co-ordinators.
Party planners. Are you making a concerted effort to get in front of these people on a regular basis? One event co-ordinator could hire you over and over to dozens of clients. So how many of these people do you know? Are you relying on accidental connections, or actively making connections? Most importantly, how many of these people have you entertained? What is your specific plan for proving your value to these professionals?
They should have a specific page on your website where you talk directly to their needs. Needs which you need to understand on a deep level. You can only do that by talking to them and spending time with them. There will likely be some trade discount for these professionals. I’d be hosting an annual event, maybe at a time of year that isn’t busy for you or them. Where you team up with maybe a catering company and a photographer, and other professionals who want to impress these people, and you treat them to an indulgent night out to demonstrate your collective skills.
Action: Try not to think of Google as just being a place where strangers go to find you. Strangers are the coldest most difficult people to convert. You are in a business where each job creates lots of loose connections. Work WITH that. Focus on ways that people with existing loose connections can come to re-find you. You are also in a business where a lot of repeat business can be handed to you by a small number of people, if you court those people with skill and finesse.