Mistakes that are Costing you new Business–and Four ways to Fix Them
Marketing wisdom says over and over: Tell your story. So small business owners follow the advice, touting the awards they’ve won, the years they’ve been in business, the number of customers they’ve served.
But the mantra “tell your story” is only half true.
Yes, you need to tell a story, but it needs to be the story of how your product or service fits into your customer’s story.
Here are four ways to make sure that your customer stays in the center of your messaging, allowing you to create authentic connection and convert to sales.
The human brain is wired for story. Before we had the written word, traditions were passed down from generation to generation through story. Our brains get it; we crave it.
Every great story has a hero, a guide, and an enemy that must be overcome. The guide helps the hero recognize their skills to overcome the enemy. We see this in bestsellers on the shelves. We see this in movie after movie. We see this in the stories we read to our children at bedtime.
When we translate this concept to marketing language, your company or your product is the guide, and your customer is the hero of the story.
This is huge. A major mistake most companies make is that they only tell their story. They are the hero. They’ve been around for decades. They’ve got fancy certifications with long acronyms. But that story doesn’t tell the customer how their problem will be solved.
When your customer’s problem is the center of the story, then everything else falls into place. Then you can provide utility, build relationships, and get a return on investment in your marketing.
Let’s look at a quick example. Say you own a lawn care company, and you provide services to make lawns look great. Your customer–the hero–what is their need? Their needs breaks down into three parts: external, emotional, and philosophical.
For their lawn, the external need is that their lawn looks bad. The emotional need is that they feel like they’re letting their family down or letting their neighborhood down with their weeds and uncut grass. The philosophical need is that they deserve a lawn that makes them proud to call their own.
If that customer came to your lawn care website and read facts about how the company opened in 1983, won a bunch of awards, and then lists a dozen different service options, your customer wouldn’t understand why you are different from any other lawn care company in town.
But when your website text opens with the customer as the hero–are you embarrassed of your lawn? Is your lawn the worst in the neighborhood?–you’ve got their attention. You understand their problems, and you want to help. They pick up the phone.
- Bowling balls and treadmills
We also make the mistake of telling too much of our story. So many websites are like that guy at a party, the one who was asked one question and is still talking, uninterrupted, fifteen minutes later. Don’t be that guy.
The homepage of your website is like a first date. It needs to be just enough information to get things rolling, to get the dialogue started, to see if you’re a fit.
Think about your services as bowling balls. Every time you introduce a service on your website, you’re handing your customer a bowling ball that their brain has to hold. One, okay. Two, no problem. Three, things are starting to get awkward. Four, they’re getting heavy. Five or more? They’re dropping everywhere.
Don’t make your customer think that much.
Get to your point. Do it in three or four bowling balls. Move on.
Your website or initial sales letters or marketing brochures are an opportunity for potential customers to understand the basics of what you do.
Human brain burns calories as you think about things. We’ve all been in meetings or long conversations and your brain feels tired. Your brain is tired!
Think of your customer’s brain running on a treadmill. Whenever you unpack ideas and concepts, you’re asking them to burn calories to understand what you’re talking about. Back to our lawn care company: if I’m talking about watering schedules and the length of grass blades, physiologically, my brain is burning calories. Human nature is to survive and thrive, and we survive by conserving calories. If something is confusing, the natural reaction is to walk away. When you give your customer too much information, they shut down.
- Being clever
When you get into your message or tag line, don’t get cute with what you’re trying to communicate. Again, this is all about making sure your customer’s brain doesn’t have to work too hard.
Let’s look at another example. What do you think this business sells: “We make mousecalls.”
No, it’s for an IT company. As in, your computer’s mouse.
When we’re too clever, we’re confusing. Never sacrifice clarity for clever.
It’s not boring to make sales. Just say what you do: “We provide friendly, in-home computer support for residential customers.”
- Calls to action
Okay, so you’ve clarified your homepage. You’ve named your customer’s problems, you’ve talked about how you can help, you’ve only introduced three main service areas. They’re excited. They want to take the next step.
Make it really, really easy for them to do that.
Whether that’s “Get a Free Quote” or “Schedule a Consultation” or “Talk to an Expert”, make sure that call to action is all over your site.
Your “calls to action” should be on your home page 4, 5, 6, 7 times. Offer so many ways to get there that they can’t miss it. If it feels like it’s on there too many times, that’s about right. You can even offer multiple calls to action; users read things in different ways.
Make that button a color that stands out. Use a bigger font size. Make sure the call to action is at the top of your page, right next to the menu items for about us, services, blog, and contact us. Call now. Schedule a consult. List that call to action multiple times.
Consider, too, that a lot of your traffic is coming from mobile devices. The mobile experience of your website needs a clear button that people can hit on the home page.
Which brings me to our call to action. Visit clarifymywebsite.com. You’ll find the resources to make sure that your website is as clear as it can be so that you can turn website visitors into paying customers. When you visit clarifymywebsite.com, we can offer an initial consultation to take a look at your website, how we can improve it, and how we can grow your sales.
Impressions don’t matter, conversions matter. Conversions come from a clearly understood message. Words are the things that sell.
It all comes down to clarity. Visit clarifymywebsite.com to learn how to get excellent return on investment from your website.
P.S. Want to learn more? Check out Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller. He walks through these steps in detail to help clarify your marketing messaging.