I’m doing a complete revamp of my branding and Website. As part of this process, I had new photos taken — photos that express the creative, fun, and dare I say it, authentic “Dianna Huff,” meaning, I ditched the “safe” corporate look I’ve held on to for so long. (For a sneak peek, you can take a look at my in-progress Facebook page.)
But as wonderful as my new photos are, I found myself questioning whether I should go with such a “different” look. I looked at photos of other marketers I know and heard myself thinking, “Hmmm, maybe I should play it safe and dial back a little.”
My copywriting assistant, Holly Yoos, set me back on the right path. “Dianna,” she said, “Seth Godin has his distinctive bald head and Malcolm Gladwell has his crazy hair. Your new look is authentic. I say go with your gut.”
As soon as she said this, I knew she was right. Why? Because it’s the same advice I give to my clients when it comes to creating messaging for their Websites
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
— Oscar Wilde
Before starting work on a client Website, I do competitive research. I assess competitor sites in terms of design, content and SEO – but more importantly, I look at messaging.
After 30 to 60 minutes, I usually come away with glazed eyes and a headache. No matter the industry, I often have to wade through incomprehensible jargon, grey mouse type I can barely read, and what I call “me too” messaging.
“Me too” messaging is copy that says exactly what everyone else is saying. In fact, if you put Company A’s site and Company B’s site side-by-side, you could plug Company A’s message into Company B’s site (or vice versa) and no one would know the difference – ha!
The problem with “me too” messaging is that it doesn’t differentiate your company from your competitors.
It also reduces potential leads.
When prospects do research online, viewing site after site, they get tired and confused. “Hmmm,” your prospect thinks, “Company A offers x, y, z, but so does Company B (and C and D and E). Which one is better? And what exactly is ‘x’ anyway? No one explains it. Maybe I’d better go look it up so I know what I’m getting.” And away clicks your prospect. Buh-bye!
So how do you fix this problem? With lots of unique, fresh and engaging content. (You knew I was going to say that, right?)
Here’s the deal: People will buy a product or service to solve a problem. But, they decide WHOM to buy from based on intangibles – intangibles that often never make it into Website messaging.
Case in point: I was visiting a new client (an IT services business) last summer when a call came in at their help desk. A malicious worm was eating through their client’s database (and everything else they had on the server) – and they couldn’t stop it. The owner and his assistant immediately contacted their two most experienced techs – even though one was on vacation – to fix the problem, fast.
Suffice to say, I was suitably impressed. I bet the prospect was, too.
These types of stories make YOUR company stand apart and you need to tell them on your Website.
To create your own unique content, sit down with your team for a few hours and do the following:
Research the Competition – Look at your competitors’ sites to see what they’re saying and how they say it. Do they offer the same products and services as you? Are they approachable (i.e. do they invite people to call or email them or do they hide behind forms)? What “buzz words” do they use? What makes them different from or the same as you?
Research your Industry – What are some of the issues and trends pertaining to your industry? What problems are your customers facing? How are you or others solving them? To find answers to these questions, look at industrial publications, application notes, white papers, case studies, etc.
Brainstorm and Analyze – Finally, let your team answer some of these questions. What makes your company unique? What are your strengths – and weaknesses? What are some of your success stories? What’s your company culture like? Does this come through in your messaging – or is your site bland and dull so that your company “fits” in with what everyone else is doing?
What all of this boils down to is going outside your comfort zone and making your company stand out with content that’s unique to YOU.
Although this can be a little discomforting (trust me, I know), the result is worth it. Because when prospects come to your site, they’ll say, “Yes! These are people I want to do business with.” Why? Because they feel like they already know you.
What’s your opinion? Leave your comments below.