Beauty and The Beast: Web Design Rant :)

One of the biggest mistakes that I see over and over again in web creation is the focus on design and aesthetics. Guess what…

Search engines don’t know (or care) what your websites look like – However, users do. Now that’s something that I can totally agree with. What I can’t agree with is the fact that users prefer looks over usability.

As I often state: You need to know your market… and what they WANT. Are your users coming to your website to admire the beautiful design, or are they here because they want a plumber, or a cleaner, or a hair salon etc..?

They have come to your website for INFORMATION. Once you have presented them with that information in a practical manner – your next duty is to lead them to a particular action. Either you want them to leave their details/contact you, or you want them to make a purchase. There’s no in-between.

As a business owner… Do you want a website that makes visitors smile, or do you want a website that makes visitors BUY?

I know what my answer would be… So what’s yours?

Depending on who you are… nothing that I say is going to change your mind – and that’s not what I’m trying to do. I’m here to bring you the information. What you do with it is up to you…

So now, let’s explore the other side of things.

I actually started out in web design myself… So looks are important – to a point. If you’re going for a particular class of customer, you may use images and layouts that portray sophistication. You may use certain colours and images to portray femininity, or relaxation. It all depends on what your user wants.

However, as you focus on the design elements of your website, you must not lose sight of what the website is really for. And remember that you should never sacrifice usability for aesthetics.

For example… Some designers love to use fancy fonts… But when their visitors come, they can’t even read it. Your website is there to deliver a message. Your marketing message. So make sure you minimise anything that may jeopardise it.

All in all, the beauty of a website is in it’s function… If your website effectively turns visitors into customers, then it’s doing it’s job… If you insist on beautifying it – make sure you test new elements, and make sure you still get the desired results… Then we’re all happy.

What Kind Of Website Does Your Business Need?

There are three main kinds of websites that “Brick and Mortar” businesses are likely to use: Brochure, Lead-Generation, and E-Commerce. A website can also be a combination. When you’re looking at having your website put together, you need to have a clear understanding of your website’s purpose.

Before people really understood how powerful their websites could really be, and the importance of user interaction, you would commonly see business owners using the wrong kind of website.

The Brochure Site: A brochure site is generally static website that gives you some basic information about the company, and perhaps tries to encourage you to get in contact with the company for find out more about their products and services.

These websites have no useful interactive features such as forms and buttons. Their sole purpose is to build “brand awareness” – letting people know that the business exists.

Before business owners were really tapping into the power of the internet, these kinds of websites were very popular. They were almost like business cards:

Out of the websites that we deal with, brochure sites tend to be the least effective. As direct marketers, what we really want to do is move the visitor through the page, and illicit a particular response from them… Which leads us to the next website class:

 

The Lead Generation Site: The purpose of this site is to turn visitors into “leads”. A person becomes a lead when they leave their contact details, so that you can communicate with them, and build a relationship that leads to a sale.

The main difference between a brochure site and a lead generation site is the fact that a lead generation site will usually have a contact form, so that the visitor can leave their details.

Now, you don’t get a good lead site by simply sticking a contact form onto a brochure site. In order to create a good lead generation site, you need a well-written sales message, which compels the visitor to leave their details.

This is where we come in. We help businesses to create effective sales messages, so that you can generate more leads and sales from your business. You can always try it yourself, but experience can make the difference between a website that generates 2 leads each month and a website that generates 50.

Once you have a good list of leads, you can contact them in order to make more sales for your business. However, if you want a website that handles the whole sales process for you, then you’re looking for:

 

The E-Commerce Site: E-Commerce stands for electronic commerce (selling electronically). Selling your old bedside cabinet on ebay, and selling products and services from your own website are two entirely different things.

In order to make sales on your website, you need to guide the potential customer through a specially crafted sales process. The sophistication of this sales process will depend on a number of factors, including the price of your products, and the product popularity. Not all businesses need an e-commerce website. But for those businesses who do accept payments online, these websites can become a huge business asset.

Many e-commerce websites will also act as lead generation websites. This is because somebody who has already made a purchase from you will more more likely to buy again, than someone who hasn’t. If you’re able to get the contact details of these people, you’ll be more likely to be able to retain your customers.

Whichever website your business needs, make sure you get the right one. A website is a business investment. And if you try to cut corners, your decisions will always catch up with you. If you need help choosing the right kind of website for your business, fill out a call-back form on the right of the page, and we can help you to decide.

Flowing With The Desire Of Your Market

You are a problem solver. Your market… Some of whom have become your clients, are simply a bunch of people who desire the same thing. This “thing” is the solution to a problem they shared… And then you swooped in as the hero, with the solution to this problem.

Now, although this desire is what originally bound your market together, and what made them into a profitable market for you – times change, and so do people.

So it’s your job to keep an ear on the ground, and listen out for changes in the desires of your market. Perhaps the problem itself won’t change, but the desired mechanism might.

For example… One minute, dieting is the answer to weight loss, and the next, it’s weight loss pills, then it’s Zumba. The desire to lose weight is still there, but as times change, people want too do it in different ways.

You are the guardian, or protector of your clients, and it is your duty to make sure that they are given the correct information when it comes to making decisions within your field. So, if you see someone touting weight loss pill that don’t work, and you know about something better, you will build trust with your clients by sharing the true solution with them.

Not only that, but you can packet some cash in the process.

As for myself, I started out as a simple web designer. But I knew that my clients didn’t want “websites”. They had just been told that websites were the solution to growing your business online. Since “business growth” was the desire of my clients… I spent years studying different methods of growing businesses.

As I learned more about marketing, I saw that this was the true solution to growing a business. So I shared this knowledge with my clients – and they were more than happy to take up these new services, as I’d helped them in the past… And they trusted me to do so again.

After this, I started seeing other risks and problems within my clients’ businesses. For example – marketing can be so successful that you “over sell”, and don’t have to supply to meet the demand. Therefore, it was clear to me that I needed to help my clients to prepare for the demand of their products… And so another branch of my business was born…

The simple moral of the story is: Know the needs, problems and desires of your clients… As you solve more of these problems… Your business grows.

So the next time you need an idea for a new product, speak with your clients!

How To Get Clients To Stay With You: Retention Rate Boosters

In any industry, your client list is a goldmine – and please note: I use the word “client” for a reason.

Now, although it’s relevant to say “customer” sometimes, the word client is far superior. And I’ll tell you why.

A customer is someone why buys products or services from you. A client is someone who uses your products or services… But it also introduces another idea. The idea of protection, care or guidance.

So where a customer is someone who gives you money in return for a product or service; a client is someone who comes to your for guidance, and you take care of them as you provide them with a product or service.

This way, they won’t come to you for a product or service… They’ll come to you for an experience. They like and trust you enough to accept your guidance, as the expert in your field. They will make decisions on what but buy, based on your guidance. You make a client feel safe, special and cared for, within your long-term relationship.

Now, without this trust, the value of your client list will plummet. So what can you do to nurture and maintain this relationship?

 

Know Your Market

You need to have a crystal clear idea of the “type” of person who buys your products and services. If you don’t have a clear idea of your “typical customer”, then you’re going to be leaving money on the table.

Whenever you’re creating marketing materials or adverts for your customers, you have to be able to create a message that will apply to a significant chunk of these people. So know who they are, how they speak, what they value, and most importantly: what they respond to!

 

Pick Your Clients

If you want to build a list that’s worth nothing, let your customers choose you. Does this sound like you:

 

If any of the bullet points above describe you, then you’re lowering the value of your customer list. Sometimes, you have to be prepared to say “No”. As I mentioned under “Know Your Market”, you need a “typical customer”. I’m not saying that you should ONLY ever sell to stereotypes. I’m simply saying that you need a list of people who AT LEAST have the same desire for what it is that you do. Once you start adding people to the list who aren’t interested in your main product or service, you’re diluting your list.

 

Communicate With Your Clients On A Regular Basis

You don’t need to email people every day in order to stay in touch. A monthly, or even quarterly newsletter can help you to stay in the minds and hearts of your clients.

Whatever it is that you choose to send to them, make sure it’s something they’re likely to value. So again, knowing your market is of paramount importance. A few things that people are likely to value include:

There are many more, but I’m sure that you can come up with tons by yourself.

Another thing you need to do is to make sure that you make them feel special. So if you’re going to send them special offers, make sure that these offers are EXCLUSIVELY available to people on your list. That way, they’ll feel as though they’re part of a special club, or community – giving them more of an incentive to stay with you. Remind them of what they’re getting, compared to everyone else, and they’ll treasure your relationship.

 

Client Care / Customer Service

This is pretty much standard. Take care of your clients, and they’ll take care of you. Once someone purchases from you, they’re more likely to purchase from you again – even if you mess up their order…

NOTE: If you mess up their order and leave them alone, they’ll probably hate you for it, and they’ll tell all of their friends to avoid you. However, if you admit that you messed up, and resolve the problem, you’ll build more trust.

This actually happened to me once… I’m not saying any names… But I got a laptop from a well-known computer shop. A few months before the warranty ran out, my laptop stopped working. I took it back, and they had set up a series of hoops for me to jump through in order to sort things out. Things were never resolved to a satisfactory level. Ever since then, I made sure my friends never purchased a thing from this store. Funnily enough, it turns out they’re actually closing down now.

Maybe they did the same thing to people all over the country. Who knows?

But on the other hand, there is another store where my friend purchased his PS3. A year later, it broke down. He took it back to the shop – And guess what…

They just plugged it in, and when it didn’t work, they have him a voucher for the full price that he had originally paid. No further questions asked!

With that voucher, he was able to get a BETTER version of the PS3, and still had enough money left to get a digital camera.

So not only did that boost his trust with them, as he know they’ll take care of him – but he also told all of his friends… And now we trust them too!

Now that’s what I call customer service.

And by the way, they’re still in business… And it’s booming!

 

As a business owner, you NEED to know your customers and what they value. Build a list of clients – not just customers. And make sure that you work on your relationship with your clients list. Once they trust you, you need to build and maintain it, and they’ll be happy to help you to succeed.

Discounting Your Way Into Bankruptcy

As a business owner, you’re looking to give your customers value for money. One of the biggest (and most expensive) mistakes that you can make here is not recognising the difference between giving value for money and being cheap.

Also, constant discounting puts you in danger. Not only is there the danger of price wars (where nobody really wins), but there is also the danger of attracting the wrong kinds of customers… You know, people who spend all day looking for “deals”, and wouldn’t even consider spending another penny once the offer expires.

This leaves you with two choices… You can either run your business on constant discounts, that eat away your profit margin, or you can lose these customers. Nobody wants to be in that position. SO here’s how you avoid it…

As I stated earlier, your customers are looking for VALUE for their money. When you look at things this way, both you and the customer can be better off.

For example, let’s say you’re a salon owner, two types of facials… A standard facial at £25, and a deluxe facial at £35, there are tons of offers that could be made.

You may choose to do a simple “£10 off standard facials”… This way, the value to the customer is £10, and the cost to you is £10. You’re essentially GIVING the customer £10. The benefit to you is that you may earn some new customers. However, when you put the price back up, quite a few of them will probably leave… Who wants to pay £10 extra?

However, if you were to give the customer a “Free upgrade to a deluxe facial”, the cost to you will be more like £2, and perhaps a few minutes of extra time. However, once the offer is over, the customers who LOVED the deluxe facial will come back for more. And the customers who don’t want to pay extra, can simply settle for the standard version. Yes, some people will still leave.

But what you’ve been able to do is showcase a new product, lower your cost, and lower your risk.

So… Which do you think is better?

There are many ways in which you can creatively put offers together for your business… But simple discounting will often end in tears. For more information on creating compelling offers, click here.

How To Prepare Compelling Offers

Competition is becoming INSANE. In any industry, you’ll have to compete with other people in order to make it to the top… Actually, you’re going to need to do it just to keep afloat.

One great way of doing so is by creating offers in order to make yourself stand out. Creating an offer, and creating a compelling offer are two very different things. And in order to stand out from the crowd, you need to tap into the psyche of your market, and bring them something that they perceive to be truly valuable in order to compel them to take immediate action.

 

Compel: “Force or oblige (someone) to do something”. ~ Based upon a quick google definition search.

 

As a smart business owner, you’ll know that you can’t force your customers to take action. In fact, you can’t force them do anything. Your job, on the other hand, is to make them feel that they need to take a particular action, because:

It’s as simple as that. You provide them with the facts… They make a decision.

Now, you can present the facts in such a way that they will be more likely to take the desired action – and that’s what this article is all about.

So what follows is a series of considerations for you to take when you’re setting up an offer. The examples will use a beauty salon. But whichever industry you’re in, you’ll find some useful information and considerations below, so here it is:

 

1. Think about what your market sees as valuable

As a salon owner, you know that your market values beauty treatments. If you want to create a compelling offer. Look through your recent bookings and find out which treatments are most popular. If your customers love facials, then you’ll probably want to make a special offer that includes facials.

 

2. Look for alternatives to discounting

Discounting can be VERY expensive. Not only does it cut down your profit margins, but it also encourages price wars between you and your competitors. And if that’s kept up, everyone’s going to lose.

Instead, look for more creative ways of creating offers, that make it much more difficult foe customers to simply “price hunt”. You do this by making your offer unique… Something that your competitor can’t (or won’t) match.

Also, by creating offers in this way, you don’t have to GIVE away money. You can simply INCREASE the value of what you’re offering, so that your customers want it more. For more info on discounting, click here.

 

3. Think about timing

Not only do you have to know how long you’re going to run your offer, but you also have to think about your market, and the season in which you’re going to be running your offer.

For example, during Christmas time, people spend more money on beauty products, so for our beauty salon, it’s a great idea to run offers at this time.

However, if you’re an ice cream man, it might not be such a good idea to be running promotions at this time of year. Know your market.

 

4. Use Scarcity

Remember the definition of “compel”… You’re motivating your potential customers feel “forced” to take a particular action. So not only do you need to let them know that what you’re offering to them is valuable, but you need to give them a reason to take action NOW.

The best way of doing this is by limiting your offer. Not only will the fear losing what they know to be a brilliant opportunity, but when they do actually take it, they’ll feel special, because the offer isn’t open to “just anyone”.

So use phrases like “for a limited time only”… “Offer ends this weekend”… “Only 20 spaces left!”

 

If I’m perfectly honest… These are only a few of many factors that you need to think about when you’re creating an offer, but they are also some of the most important. So next time you want to run a promotion for your business, keep these things in mind.

So that’s all for now, and I look forward to seeing you back here for my next post…

Boosting The Power Of Your Business Cards

Okay, so I can’t really think of a single business where having some form of business card wouldn’t be beneficial.

The thing is, business is all about the relationships that you build, and business cards work as a great anchor so that people will remember you.

So in this post, I’m going to share a few simple tricks that you can use to get more out of your business cards.

1. Make Your Business Cards More Valuable – Although the card itself is essentially a worthless piece of paper, what you choose to put in in can monumentally increase the value.

Sorry to say it, but when your business card simply says who you are and what you do… Nobody cares – They don’t have any real incentive for keeping it, unless they need your services there and then.

However, if you add a special offer, where the user receives a special discount, a free additional service… Your business card will become a coupon – and coupons have value.

 

2. Use Multiplication – Don’t worry, I’m not going to ask you to do any difficult equations… The multiplication here is going to be much easier to grasp.

To be honest, this is more about your relationship with your contacts, than it is about your business cards themselves, but I suppose it’s still relevant.

The tip here is about giving multiple cards to the people you meet. Believe it or not, people talk. But if one of your customers has a great conversation with his/her friend, praising your business – without a specific reminder, they’ll quickly forget.

This is the downside to making your cards valuable – people won’t want to give away their last one! So make sure you give them enough cards so that they can pass on the value to their close friends. These kinds of customers are truly invaluable… In some cases, they can bring you more business than your salespeople… So treat them well!

 

3. Personalise Your Cards – This refers back to the first tip about adding value. People appreciate things when they’re more personal… That’s why autographed photo’s always sell for more.

So when you give someone your card (if the back is blank), write down a personal, “on the spot” coupon.

My two favourite things about writing coupons on the spot is the fact that you can make the coupon relevant to this particular person, plus the fact that it makes them feel special, because you wouldn’t do this for “just anyone”.

Don’t forget to sign the coupon, because this makes it feel more like a “contract”… And sensible people tend to take care of their contracts.

 

4. Experiment – Marketing is not a perfect science… And the only way that we can accurately predict what’s going to work is by trying it out. Once you find what works for you, keep it up until it stops working.

Don’t forget – as times change, people change. Your best product/service/coupon 5 years ago could be your worst today.

So test different coupons… Test different business card layouts, colours and fonts. Try putting your picture on your cards… Move your logo around… Shrink it, blow it up… Do what you will…

But the golden rule remains: Pay attention, and see which combination brings you the best results.

So there you have it… 4 simple tips on increasing the power of your business cards, that you can start trying out right away. If you’re looking for more tips on getting more out of your business, then drop me an email at: info@isjdevelopment.com, or use the callback form on the right.