Session 1 – The Place To Start
Tastes varies from person to person. I might like the color Blue while you might favor the color Red. I’m very visually driven and inspired, whereas you might be leaning more something that has a flavor of technical sentiments.
Some people will love one thing while others will detest it. It’s part of our human nature that we are alike and yet also different and thank God for that. Wouldn’t it be boring if we all were exactly the same?
Because taste varies, I will not make this particular post extensive on how your website should look in order to be pretty and beautiful, for it might be in my mind and you might hate it. Instead what we will focus on are some more general aspects of creating a website that works.
We will expand upon this topic area in the course of this article series and honestly we may jump about a bit as things come to mind and as it may make sense to return to previous comments.
But here’s where we will start and this might actually surprise you a bit. We will start with a mental image of WHO it is we are serving.
It makes very good sense to take a step back and think a little about what we are all about. Or in this case, what are you about? What’s your business about?
Since we are diving into the topic area of the perfect website for your business, we need to pose the question: What is your business?
Better yet, you may really wish to start of with the questions of Who. Who are you serving? What problems do you solve? And not least, Who is your ideal client?
Who is your ideal client? In the marketing world we often call the ideal client for the Avatar. Or the perfect avatar. No, not the avatar of James Cameroun’s famous movie. But who is your avatar?
If you think about it you can probably picture in your mind your ideal client pretty well. If you are lost a bit, then just think of a moment when you engaged with a client who bought from you. Remember a moment when you really felt that you helped that person (e.g. find a perfect dress for her needs, help him make his car purchase come through, finance and all, help find that perfect house for the young family, help someone with their water damage in their home, etc.).
Remember how happy they were, even when they had to pay you and remember how good that made you feel. Not just that you were paid, but that you made a difference in someone’s life or just in someone’s day.
As you do this exercise you may actually get a pretty good sentiment about the type of person that makes for your ideal client.
You want the ideal client to be someone who actually pays you, so that you can not only sustain your business, but preferably sustain it well. You want this person to be happy when dealing with you, love your products or services and even be happy when they hand over their money to you.
When you have such a person in your business, you are more likely too to feel great not only about what you delivered and how you served, but you also had less trouble and hassle with it. It probably gave you a sense of fulfillment.
If you are lucky the relation is even so fruitful that not only will the ideal client come back for more from you, but the will also rave about you and your business to everybody else, spreading the good word on where to buy from. In this case, to buy from you.
Ok, so picturing this person, you may wish to actually put a name to he or she. Further, place and age for the person and then too drill down into all sorts of other characteristics, adjectives and facts about the person.
Let’s say you are a personal fitness trainer. Perhaps you have found that your happiest clients that seem to give you the most joy helping and that seems to give you the best business is a mom in her early 40s.
Let’s call her Jane. She is 43 years old. She has two children James of 12 and Helen of 10 and husband John who is 46.
They live in the local town where you work too. In fact they live in the little community in a 400,000 dollar home. They have lived there the past 12 years and seem very happy and engaged in the local area.
She works part time in the local hairdresser salon, while he works in a car dealership by the bigger neighboring town.
She drives red Toyota Sienna and he drives a newer black Toyota Avalon. That’s right they both drive cars that they bough from the husband’s place of work. They got a good deal on the previous demo Avalon model and a nice used Sienna.
Together they have a steady income and live their lives fairly moderately.
The children goes to the nearby school and mom is often the designated driver and does most of the household chores.
Children and busy housewife life along with part time job and over the years, Jane has gained a little too much weight. She’s unhappy about this and wishes to shed at least 40 pounds and get back into a better shape and wishes to feel better about herself and so she can fit her old favorite dress that is still hanging in her closet.
Let’s stop here.
The point is that you wish to be as specific as possible. The more specific the easier everything else comes along.
If you put your mind to it, you can probably be very specific about the character of your ideal client and if you get in doubt, perhaps you will just need to think about the client you have already helped who had a great experience with you and that left you with good money exchanged and a great felling of having helped someone. When you think of that person, model your ideal after he or she. Perhaps you’ll even actually use that person entirely in your exercise for this purpose.
You may wish never to let anyone – let alone this specific person – know about it. You just never know when someone might take it as a compliment or when they get really upset about it.
But drill into as many specific adjectives and characteristics of this person; gender, age, physical look, how they dress, what car do they drive, where do they live, how many children if any, family traits, nationality, convictions (of any sorts), interests and hobbies etc.,etc.
A good friend of mine, who also happens to be an excellent marketer, calls this exercise the Homer Simpson exercise. His favorite cartoon is that of the Simpsons and he knows it so well, that he can quickly pick out any character from that cartoon and describe it down in minute detail everything about this person and everything related to this person.
Imagine you were to sell a cruise travel to Homer Simpson. If you know a bit about him, do you think you might be able to find the mental images that you would have to sell him on in order to get him to buy it? Perhaps it even would involve letting him know what this would do for his wife?
Do you see how powerful this exercise can be?
Alright. So far so good. You have all the intricate details of your character down. So here’s the reason you may wish to go through this exercise. When you know you you will be addressing and who it is that you will speak to, it becomes easier to find the words that will resonate too. Yes, this includes the actual vocabulary and choices of words. You may talk differently to the guy who paves the roads doing hard asphalt work in smelly fumes hot summers as well as cold winters, than you would to the more manicured banker who oversees the mortgage loans of your local bank.
But it’s much more than the vocabulary and the choice of words. It ‘s also about what their interest are and how your services or products match or relates to it.
This brings us to the next big question: What problem do you solve for your ideal client?
Regardless of what you are selling, the end outcome is that the buyer wishes to accomplish something.
There’s an old saying that goes something like this: People Do Not Buy The Drill, They Buy The Hole In The Wall!
That’s right. The drill is just the instrument that they will buy in order to get what they want, which is the hole, so they can hang that picture or whatever they need the hole for.
Similarly, they don’t buy the tree, they buy the shade the tree will give them.
You get the point.
So let’s go back to the beginning of this article. By answering these two very important points of Who Is My Ideal Client and What Problem Do I Solve, a lot of the choices that you will make when considering your website will come more naturally to you and will quite possibly also strike a better note with your ideal client recipient audience.
Fine, from above you have your vocabulary chosen and now you consider your choice of color scheme for your website.
For instance. You may like to have your site have a black background. Well, this can look pretty cool indeed (in the eyes of some). One of my earlier websites for my personal ego (I lovingly call it my personal ego-website) had an all black background while the text then would be white.
It looked pretty good, but there are two problems with this.
One, I might find it looking pretty good, but you might actually hate it. Usually it might in fact appeal better to the male audience whereas the female audience will not resonate with it.
Two, a white text on black background can be very tiring on the eyes, so I wouldn’t recommend too much use of this for most website purposes. Yes, you can make use of it for smaller sections, or for e.g. boxes to stand out and such, but just don’t overdo it without giving consideration for these two points I have just made about the color choice.
It’ funny to see when a website is appealing to the female gender and perhaps even more so when its by a female vendor and not least when they are relating to emotions and aiming to evoke feeling. You can probably picture this even without me pointing too far ahead with it.
Let’s say for instance it’s the website of an inspirational female instructor who wishes to empower females to step into their true self to release their real personal strength and who they really are and let go of every self doubt that has been holding them back till now, and go forth building their own business of helping others with say relationships.
This paragraph alone and you will probably have a ton of visual images and possibly word choices that come to you. I don’t even have to picture the image much more and you can probably take it very, very far in your mind how a website should look for this or how it might look.
Imagine instead, you are addressing gay men. How might this affect the imagery? Or let’s say you are a tomboyish lesbian female addressing other lesbians, how then would you imagine the website look?
Contrast that over to the look of the professional Toyota car dealership’s website referencing our good friend John, husband of Jane, from above. Or contrast in with websites befitting the local bank, the CPA or the lawyer.
Completely different images, sentiments and emotions, right?
So in closing, the two main questions and the exercises I gave you here make a lot of sense and can help direct you to the right choices for your website.
In upcoming articles, we will look at the choice of platform and my suggestion for what to go for. I will lay out my reason for doing so along with multiple examples of why I think you should go with my suggestions.
Make sure you follow along with this series and by all means let me have your questions and comment along the way too. I would love to learn what you feel is working well in your business now and perhaps what isn’t working so well.
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Thanks for coming along this far.