Here’s a question to think about: do your clients and customers know you sell pants? (Bear with me here. I’m about to get all metaphorical. Even though I’m guessing you or your company don’t actually sell pants, you may find the pants analogy useful. Also, it’s fun to say “pants.” Pants!)
Imagine you want to buy a pair of pants.
Back in the Time Before (and depending on where you live, maybe in the New Now), you’d likely go browse some stores until you found pants that you liked enough to buy.
You’d walk around the mall, or your local “lifestyle center” (ugh).
You’d look for stores that seemed likely to sell pants.
You’d go into the ones that looked like they had your kind of pants (and avoid the ones that didn’t).
You’d try on a few pairs, and eventually buy the ones that worked best for you.
In that physical experience, it’s even possible you ended up buying pants from a store you hadn’t been to before. Maybe you saw a store that appealed to you for some reason, you walked in, and voíla! Pants!
But that kind of serendipity doesn’t happen online.
See, if you were shopping online, you’d probably take one of these approaches:
• You’d type “pants” into your search engine, look at the results, and go to the sites that looked like they had what you wanted
• You’d go straight to the sites of stores you normally buy pants from and start the search there
• You’d ask some clothes-savvy friends what pants-selling stores they like and go the sites that sell those
The one thing you wouldn’t do? Go to a random website to see if they happened to sell pants.
That’s why pants-selling websites need to do a few very important things:
• They need to make sure their website, or even the specific pants they sell, show up when you search for them. (This, my friends, is SEO. But you knew that.)
• They need to make sure that, when you go to their site, you can tell immediately whether or not they do, in fact, sell pants. (or seem likely to)
• They need to make sure you have enough information to determine whether or not their pants are right for you and what you need.
You see what this means, right? You can’t make people guess what it is you do or sell.
As soon as someone lands on your site, they need the answer to (at least!) three questions:
(1) Do you sell pants?
(2) Do you sell pants for me? (Pants that I’d like, are likely to fit, etc.)
(3) How can I know for sure?
Your #1 job? Make sure you answer those questions with your messaging. And if you only answer one of those questions? Make sure you’ve answered the first one. And make sure you answer it as soon as they land on the page (“above the fold” in web-design parlance).
And I get it: “Do you sell the thing I want?” is a really boring question to answer. You’d much rather lead with something interesting, right? Some mystery?
Never sacrifice clarity for cleverness. People have to want to buy what you have to sell — which means you have to make it clear that you do, first and foremost.
That said, there are lots of good, and even interesting ways, to answer that question, one of which I’ve talked about before — state what people want along with your unexpected, unfamiliar, or unconventional way to do that. (“You want pants? Our pants use this special fabric, or are made this special way, or by these special people, or have this effect on those who wear them, etc.”)
She leads with a question about “pants” that is likely to resonate with her audience — the equivalent of, “Are you really happy with your pants?” I also talk about how she can make it more clear that she can deliver those “pants” in the way her potential clients are looking for, but since she’s answered the first question, she’s already way ahead of the game.
If you’re wondering about the second question, that has a lot to do with the specific language you choose to talk about your “pants,” as well as the look and feel of your site. Think about how you make judgments about stores (and their pants) based just on their logos, what you see in the windows, etc.
And on the third question, I talked a little about that with the previous “What’s Missing From This Message video: why it’s important to give people a way to experience what you offer.
So what can you do? Start by going to your home page, and taking a good, hard look at it. Ask yourself, “Is it clear to our audience that we have what they’re looking for?” If not, revise it.
If yes, maybe you could reward yourself with a new pair of pants. 😉
Pants!People have to want to buy what you have to sell — which means you have to make it clear that you do, first and foremost. Click To Tweet
Please note that many of the links are affiliate links, which means if you buy a thing I link to, I get a percentage of the cost, and then donate it to charity.
Sometimes what’s missing from your message is not much. That’s certainly the case with this next episode of What’s Missing From This Message where all that’s missing is a clear preference for method of delivery. I was so excited to get a submission from Summer Jelinek, oh my gosh I hope I’m saying that right, who asked me if I could Red Thread her website. Which I have to say it was recently redesigned I think by LoudMouse who was a previous submission on What’s Missing From This Message. So, it’s a very small world here and I’m super excited to show you what Summer and LoudMouse have done because I have to tell you right up front it’s pretty darn good. Actually there’s probably only one or two little things at a high level that I would say would make it even stronger. So, let’s take a look.
Okay. This is Summer’s website and you’ve got a great picture of Summer. I love the gray and the purple and the taupe by the way, I just love the color scheme. And I love how she’s got this rotating frame here of is your event, association, organization, missing the MAGIC and that’s clearly an acronym because she’s got dots in between it. And then underneath that learn to unify teams and drive progress by finding a purpose that matters.
Okay, a lot to like here. So first thing, if we’re putting it at a test of is this answering a question that my organization or her audience might have I’d say yeah actually it probably is and there’s a cool play on words there with the acronym in MAGIC. Now, we all may have a different definition of MAGIC and I’m going to talk about that later but I think there’s a really interesting thing where she’s really snagging people with this question of is your association or event or organization missing the MAGIC? Then you can say, “Yeah. There is something missing. We’re missing a sparkle or whatever.” Great. And then I love that she gives an answer to that right off the bat, learn to unify teams and drive progress by finding a purpose that matters.
So, I’m going to get back to the question in just a second but that little subtitle chef’s kiss it is a really great example of what I talk about all the time how a one sentence summary of what you do needs to combine what’s desired by your audience and what’s different to them. So, learn to unify teams and drive progress okay that’s what I want. I want to unify teams and drive progress by how, finding a purpose that matters. So it’s a really good answer to the question she poses. So if someone says, “Okay, is your association, event, organization missing the MAGIC?” She’s defining what she means by MAGIC in the next line and giving an unexpected and attractive answer to how she solves that. And then she goes into meet summer.
Okay. So that’s what we see above the fold. This is stylistically very similar to what Loud Mouse did on their own site but I really like what it’s doing. I think it’s capturing exactly who she’s talking to by rotating between event, organization, and association. She’s capturing the spirit of how those people talk, “Oh, we’re just missing the MAGIC here.” And she’s giving a really clear and I think differentiated answers. So two thumbs up to above the fold.
All right. So once we scroll down we get to this next section. So this is clearly the call to action, this is a way to get people onto her newsletter. So great, we always want to have something like that. And this one says want a more engaged team ask them better questions and then goes in and explains how she’s going to give you an ebook of 20 questions every leader should be asking their teams if you sign up.
So, okay. Assuming all of these things the one little thing and I do think it’s little is that right above this she talks about learning to unify teams and driving progress and then now it’s about wanting a more engaged team as the next question. So that I think is just a little bit of dissonance there like, “Whoa, wait. I thought we were going to unify teams and drive progress in order to get the MAGIC back where did engagement come in?” So I would just love this section to link to the first one a little bit more. The first step to a unified team or a unified team is an engaged team or an engaged team is a unified team. How do you get there? Ask better questions. Just something that connects it so this doesn’t feel like all of a sudden now you’re saying, “Hey, I slice and dice and I fold your laundry.” You’re basically saying, “I slice, I dice and this is the way you can do it too.”
Second point here, if this is in fact a way to sign up to the newsletter I like a little bit more transparency about that where you say, “When you sign up for my newsletter you can download this ebook.” Unless it truly is just sign up, you’re going to get a series of nurturing messages, welcome, whatever. Again, just a little bit of transparency there would make that a little bit stronger.
Partial client list, always useful there. My story, lovely picture of Summer. And I just love this little personal insight she wanted to be in charge. The other thing I think is interesting here and I don’t know legally whether or not she can play it up a little bit more is now we start to understand a little bit of where the MAGIC piece that she talks about above the fold when you first land on the page comes in.
Because she clearly has worked for a number of years for Walt Disney World and the Disney Institute so I’m assuming that’s where the MAGIC piece comes in. I’d love to see in this bio something that ties it in. Again, I know she has to avoid really, really carefully any impression that this is endorsed by Disney but I think she can start to say bring in this being in charge, there’s magical experiences, that’s what inspired my pursuit of this model that she’s going to introduce now just below the page. So I like this a little bit, I like how it introduces Summer, I like how it introduces her additional credibility in addition to her partial client list.
And then now we’ve got to explore Summer’s MAGIC model. Now we get to the explanation of what the acronym up top was standing for. I feel like this is a little long to wait for it. I’d love this to be up a little further frankly. I know what we want to do is get people to sign up for a newsletter right away but when you clearly have introduced an acronym you introduced this curiosity gap of what does that acronym mean and you really don’t want to wait too long before telling people what it is. Now I like that she has it. I love that she’s explained it. I would want one other little piece of copy underneath this MAGIC model thing that again ties it back to what you’ve told me about so far. How does it unify teams and drive progress? How is it part of engagement? Is the MAGIC model the key to doing that? All you need to do is tell me that.
The other thing is, A. I love how she introduces all of these pieces but B. do you see it when you’re sliding through naturally you would go across these three and then down but actually the way that it’s drawn is that it bounces up and down. This is the M and then the A and then the G comes down and then the I is down and then the C is back up. I don’t think that’s how people read it. Normally I don’t think that’s how people would interact with it. So, I would suggest maybe just reorganizing so that you have the M, the A and the G across the top and the I and the C at the bottom.
Okay. Last piece and this is really where I think the biggest piece of feedback I have comes in is that now she’s introducing herself as a speaker where that hasn’t been clear up to this point. I would say up to this point I really would have thought that this was a consultant’s page not a speaker’s page. So I love that she’s talking about and really I think by the time you get here she says she’s engaging, she looks engaging. And I like how she’s connected some of what she’s talked about before here.
But this is the piece where if this is for her as a speaker then I think a lot of the language throughout earlier should talk about it as getting in a speaker for your event is the first step to doing this and this is what she talks about. Because otherwise we come to the bottom and we’re like, “Oh wait, where did the speaker piece come in?” This is where I wanted just a little bit more connection or a little bit continuity around, “Okay I like what you’re saying, I love your approach, I think it’s really differentiated, what’s your method of delivery? Oh, it’s speaking.” I think that needs to be clear or at least not confined to this section right at the bottom.
One other little note here again, tie in the language here. So she talks about her lifelong connection to great stories. How does that connect to her bio? How does that connect to MAGIC? Just tie it all together so it doesn’t feel like we’ve got separate chunks going on. I mean, let me be clear it’s not that this is a super separated webpage, I think she’s doing a really good job here, this is really fine tuning it so that she takes what’s already really, really strong and powerful and just makes it a little bit stronger.
So, this next piece is weekly wisdom so I think she’s introducing some content that she’s got here. There’s a big block of content that comes underneath that so I’d like to see her break that up a little bit just so that we get a better sense of what it is and how it connects to everything else. I also question whether or not this is homepage worthy because there’s a lot going on now on the homepage if you think about it. We’ve got the landing, the where you are, you’ve got the call to action for the newsletter, you’ve got Summer’s bio, you’ve got an explanation of the MAGIC model, you’ve got her introduction as a speaker, then you have this. And then there’s the contact at the bottom.
So, I think there’s probably if I were to just say one thing I would do just to simplify this is that I would probably take the weekly wisdom and the speaker focus piece off of this main page and move it someplace else just so that the core of the message is a little bit stronger as long as she puts in the method of delivery piece and keeps that there. So, I think the only piece that I’d say really doesn’t make sense to me on this homepage is the weekly wisdom piece. And maybe if it were just introduced differently it would fit better but otherwise all in all I think this is a really good example not only of what makes Summer really stand out but what a really strong message driven website could look like.
So coming back to you, what are some of the lessons you can learn from Summer’s site? Well this is really I’d say in a lot of ways a model for how to do things super, super well. She’s engaging with a question right at the beginning, she’s answering it in a way that’s different and differentiated, she’s giving people clear steps to take and she’s also making a really interesting connection between her approach and her background and how all of that ties together in her.
The one thing that can make this message stronger for her is potentially the thing that could make a message stronger for you too is to make it really clear how you do what you do. Once you’ve gotten people really interested in what you do and the nature of it make it clear how you do that so that it’s even more clear how they can hire you and get that big idea to work for them. If you want me to take a look at your message and red thread it like this send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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