Over the summer we realized that Prim’d Marketing had outgrown its website, and we were selling products that weren’t represented online. This is common with business owners in their second or third year of business, and as you evolve you might realize that you too need a “2.0 version” of yourself. In Part 2 this 3 part blog series, we’re going to be lifting the hood to show you how we realized we were ready for a marketing revamp and how we did it (so you can too). Part I explored what we did to prepare a firm foundation, using The Brand Plan and a branded photo shoot, Part 2 is on how we created a strategic site, and Part 3 shows how we geared up to promote our website launch.
Jenni here, and in this second installment of our three part series, we focus on creating a great blueprint for your website. When we build sites for our clients, one of the first questions we address together is “What do you want your website to do for you?” Often times that question is met with either blank stares or overly generalized answers. If your answer to this question is “we want our new website to help us get the word out,” or “we want more web traffic so we can increase sales,” I hate to break it to you, but you’re going to need to get a little more specific before you can begin building your next site.
STEP ONE: Identify What Isn’t Working
For Prim’d Marketing, our first problem was fairly straightforward: we had begun selling some new products or offerings that weren’t on our website at all. The Brand Plan, Blog & Social Content Plans, and Quarterly Content Calendars were products we were actively selling, but not mentioned on our website. Also, we had discontinued certain areas of support but they were still listed under our services. Our website wasn’t helping to educate website viewers about our processes or products, it was leaving us to do a lot of explaining offline. It wasn’t being a very good team member.
STEP TWO: Take a Step Back to Get a Broad View
So what did we do? At the beginning of last summer, Sophie and I took an all day off-site meeting. No client meetings, no email, no cell phones. We took the whole day to do a deep dive on what we were doing, and outlined several paths that clients take during their engagement with us. Because I’m a super visual person, so we drew all over a white board, with product channels, customer paths, and lists of what was involved on those paths. This sort of visual mapping helped us conceptually get our arms around what we were selling, and how a customer might experience us. We mapped all the way from curious inquiry, to learning more information, to starting a small creative project or plan, going on to do bigger projects, and ultimately become one of our raving fans.
If you’re starting a new creative project, you might be thinking “I don’t have a whole day to devote to website planning.” Ok, that’s fair, but don’t underestimate how much you and your team can gain from getting on the same page. A great next step is to get together and talk through your client process. Make a point to draw the system onto a whiteboard or notebook. Get it out of your brain and somewhere where everyone can see it. (Systems strategist Val Geisler recommends the game of “Then What?” Starting with someone coming to your website, and asking “Then what?”) Play the "Then What? game throughout each step of your process and write it all down.
STEP THREE: Map Back to Web Pages with Clear Purpose
Once Sophie and I had a clear vision of our client process, we could map back to the web pages I was going to be building (this is called a sitemap). Each page on a website has a core purpose, helping to answer one piece of a potential client’s questions:
- Home: what is the high level of what your business is all about?
- About: Who are you, what is your experience and why should I listen to you?
- Work With Me / Product Pages: What is it that you sell?
- Case Studies / Testimonials: What does it look like and feel like to work with you?
- Contact: How do I take the next step to hire you or get more information?
Based on that crazy white board, I knew this website was going to be much bigger than our last website, and more focused on our products. Our last site was a basic 5-page website which did very little to educate potential clients on our Prim’d process and signature ways of working. Instead of fielding these one at a time on phone calls, we wanted a website that could do that work for us. To get there, we planned for specific product pages to help accomplish that goal.
Once visitors learned what we do and what products we offer, we knew it was important to give clear visuals of what working with us looks like. Sophie and I like to tell our clients about the magical moment when a potential client begins imagining what it would look and feel like to work with you. Think about painting a beautiful visual picture that your dream clients can hold in their minds. Give them ways to imagine taking a phone call with you, or walking into your office and sitting down for a meeting. This visualization will help your client begin to feel out whether or not you’re a good fit. For us, illustrating the process through Client Case Studies was the best way to explain this. These are heavy hitters for any website strategy, because not only are you showing off your skills, but you can begin giving potential clients a clear way to start imagining what their project might look like.
If you’re starting your sitemap, ask yourself at every stage, how each web page is answering that core purpose I’ve outlined above. Also, how can you can help your dream clients imagine what it’s like to work with you?
STEP FOUR: Tell Your Visitors What You Want Them to Do Next
The final step of creating a website strategy is to place really clear and unique calls to action on every single page. When someone scrolls down to the bottom of your product page, what do you want them to do next? Make a clear headline and a link that guides the way.
For us, this 2.0 website was a huge step by having conditional calls to action on every page, allowing visitors to request The Brand Plan info pack on The Brand Plan page, and a Website info pack on our Website page. We wanted a clear way to get specific next steps into the hands of curious website viewers without Sophie or I having to be on the phone or sending emails at every step of the process one at a time (which saves us time and money).
Ok, I could probably write an entire book on website strategy, but that’s the general path that Sophie and I took when sitting down to get our new website out the door. What website strategies have you taken when creating your own websites? How has it improved your business? What other questions do you have about how to make a better website?
Special Offer: We are currently offering a bundle price for our strategy and design skills combined by taking you through The Brand Plan process through to a new website with a branded photo shoot. Contact us to find out more about the special offer.
Next week is Part 3 in this blog series which tackles what to do when you have a new website. How do you share it with your community and potential clients? How do you tap into other people’s networks (blog and social media) to share your work?
Get FULL Access to our Resource Library
Get FULL ACCESS to our curated and most powerful worksheets!