Author: dannypeavey

Secrets of the Best Financial Websites

Are you the owner of a financial firm or financial website?

If so, numbers, markets and other financial knowledge probably spin your wheels. You have an inherent interest in the topic, but the trick is making your website attractive for others.

Let’s face it, to many people, the impression of financial websites is that they’re very serious, perhaps even dry and boring. Everyone needs to in some way manage finances well, so the more you can do to make it attractive, the better.

How will you get people saying “that’s cool, tell me more”? These are some of the secrets of the best financial websites:

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They keep it simple

Of course, we’re covering a lot of ground here with the term “financial website.” You might be a financial software company, a financial advisor, a market trading site or simply a general site offering financial advice or tips.

One thing that any of these have in common is the potential to be complex. You might have some super-savvy customers, but many people will break out into a cold sweat at the mere mention of financial terms.

For this reason, simplicity is essential.

Remember that people may be coming to the website with a problem that’s already giving them a headache, they’ll be more appreciative of a site that is easy to understand, follow and use. It’s not that you can’t go into any complex details, but those shouldn’t be what you lead with.

What does “keeping it simple” really mean? Here are a few ideas for starters:

  • Your headline and subheadline should make it very clear what you do to any layperson.
  • It should be easy for website visitors to work out where to go next. This means simple navigation and clear buttons or calls to action.
  • Avoid using excessive jargon or complex terminology, at least on your key site pages (home, about etc.). If the jargon is essential to know, include it with clear explanations in your resources.
  • When you do have complicated information to share, do what you can to represent it through graphics. Graphs, charts or infographics can help people to better visualize data and gather meaning from it.
  • Explain your services clearly. There are many examples of websites out there where someone new arrives and is left asking, “so, what does this do?!”

Who does a good job of keeping it simple on their website? Bvetterment does, you can see a screenshot of the upper section of their homepage below. The design isn’t too fussy or confusing, while the messaging is clear and to-the-point.

Best financial websites

[bctt tweet=”The best financial websites break concepts down simply” username=”onewkwebsite”]

They break down complex information

A key mistake with financial websites (and websites for other technical niches) is that the information often seems to be written for the company directors rather than the customers. You might be able to drop terms like “fixed asset,” “arbitrage,” or “haircut,” into casual conversation, but unless your target customer is very financially-savvy, they’re probably wondering what a trip to the salon has to do with finances!

In fact, 78% of financial advisors strongly agree that financial literacy is a problem in the United States. This means that if you get too complicated, or don’t find ways to share complex information in a way that is easy for people to understand, you will probably lose them. (As we’ve previously mentioned, “the answer to confusion is no”). If one of your goals is to be part of the solution to financial literacy, then you need to connect with people on their own level.

SigFig is an example of an investment service that breaks down complex information with charts and other graphics, so that even a complete newb can understand what they’re talking about. Rather than just talking about performance and percentages, they show it, such as through the graph below:

Best financial websites

They convey trustworthiness

Simplicity and accessibility aside, dealing with finances is still a serious issue for most people. They want to understand what’s happening and the services on offer, but they also want to feel that their financial needs are taken seriously.

It’s common sense – if you’re seeking financial advice, you want to know that it’s going to help your situation rather than put you in peril. Therefore, when a visitor comes to your website, they should feel that you are a trustworthy choice.

How can financial websites convey trustworthiness? Here are a few tips:

  • Consider your color scheme. The colors you choose for your brand should align with your values and the impression that you want to give your customers. While there are many different interpretations out there of color theory for websites, it’s often accepted that green is associated with growth and wealth (many banks use it), whereas red or some other bold colors may be too “out there” for a financial website.

  • Keep it simple, but maintain professionalism. It’s not that you need to be stiff and over-formal, but people should feel reassured that you take their financial well being seriously.

  • Share your credentials. With anything as important as financial matters, people want to know they’re getting information from someone who knows their stuff.

  • Keep your website design clean and uncluttered. This helps to convey that you “keep a tidy office” and that you can be trusted to keep finances in order too.

Look at how lending site, Earnest, manages to engage, keep messaging simple AND convey a sense of trustworthiness. Their explanations are clear, including giving a basic idea of loan terms and what to expect. They include important links at the bottom, such as their privacy terms and lending licenses. These also help to build their profile as a trustworthy company.

Best financial websites

They offer free resources

Blog posts, infographics, free downloads and other forms of content can be great for adding SEO value to your website. For financial websites, they’re also an excellent way to add value and build up your credibility as a service. In a sense, it’s another way you can build trust with a potential customer.

The key is to keep those free resources useful and interesting. For example, an investment app might break down key investing terms that people new to investing need to understand. They might explain the process – how do people make money? What are the risks?

This actually raises a good point for financial services; clearly explaining risks (rather than leaving them buried in fine print and jargon) can help to solidify trust in your business. People appreciate that you are upfront with them and that you’re ensuring they go into any service with their eyes open.

To get to the heart of what a “useful” or “valuable” resource will be to your audience, you have to understand them well first. Identify their key problems, concerns, questions and goals. These are great places to start when formulating any free resources.

If you can put together a tool that makes a task easier, this is often a popular feature with customers. For example, mortgage calculators, debt repayment tools and retirement investment estimators.

Dave Ramsey has been a popular financial advisor for almost three decades, starting on a radio show in Nashville. If you check out his website, you will find many different free resources, sorted by simple menus. Explanations are clear and the free calculators are easy to use.

For anyone who is feeling overwhelmed by all the information available, one thing the website does very well is point people to a “get started” menu. Tips are broken down to be simple and achievable, such as Dave’s “Seven Baby Steps.”

Best financial websites

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Final thoughts

The bottom line is that the best financial websites are built with their customers in mind. The messaging is thoughtfully crafted to ensure that people understand what the service is about, without tripping over unnecessary jargon.

Importantly, every financial website needs to build trust with their target audience. While you don’t have to be boring or rigid, people do need to feel that you know what you’re doing and that their financial situation is safe in your hands.

Lastly, deliver value. How can you delight a potential customer before they’ve even signed up?

Small business coach

Marketing Online for the Small Business Coach

Are you a small business coach?

Marketing online can be one of your most lucrative avenues for getting new business, but only if you’ve got good strategies in place.

A lot of people advertise online as a coach these days – you have to find a way to stand out. (Kudos, you’re off to a great start if you’ve already identified your coaching niche!)

If you can nail down some great online marketing strategies, then you open up a big new world of possibilities for sharing your business coaching expertise. Ready to get started? Here are some tips for small business coaches: 

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Speak directly to your audience

Want to know what can make you stand out from others who are marketing coaching services? The ability to narrow down your messaging to the audience who you specifically want to target.

Too many coaches speak in general terms on their websites, resulting in wishy-washy language and messaging that doesn’t really speak directly to anyone. Sometimes they come across as too “woo-woo” and let’s face it, if you sound like you might be suggesting crystals and meditation as a way to improve business results, you are unlikely to attract the analytically-minded business owner!

Here at One Week Website, we really like the Storybrand approach to engaging with your target audience. The first step is to put that target audience first. This means you should have a clear understanding of the tone, language and overall messaging that will really resonate with them.

You might go as far as to identify a specific group of small business owners that you want to target. What are their biggest worries or problems? How can you help? Can you distill that into a headline that will grab their attention?

Doing this first guides with messaging on your website, but also everywhere else that potential leads might see you.

Small business coach

Build your email list

Once you have your target audience and messaging dialed in, it’s important that you look for other ways to stay in touch. Most people who arrive on your website won’t be ready to buy from you the first time, but it’s an opportunity to get their email address so you can send messages to them.

There are a couple of great strategies for getting that email address:

  1. Create a “lead magnet” – a piece of valuable content that you give away in return for their email address.

  2. Create an email newsletter that people want to receive. Most businesses have some kind of email newsletter, but only a small number have people searching for them just to sign up. Some examples of popular newsletters include: NextDraft, Ben Settle, TheSkimm and REI.

Here again, when devising your lead magnet or hot email newsletter, think about what will be appealing to your target audience. Your aim is to get as many “good fit” leads onto your email list as possible.

The important thing once you get people onto your email list is to be consistent about communicating with them. Email marketing works if people get to know and trust you. For example, if they’ve signed up for your newsletter, make sure that gets sent at regular intervals. If it’s to go out every week on a Tuesday, don’t miss a Tuesday!

Delivering value is as important as consistency. Whatever you are sending out should be relevant and interesting to your target audience. For example, you might address common problems that they have. You don’t have to write a novel every time, but you should always deliver something they can use, even if it’s a quick tip.

Use a marketing funnel

A marketing funnel is a useful tool for nurturing potential leads, from their discovery of you to making a purchase. A funnel is so-called because the shape describes that journey from lead to customer. At each stage, some people will drop out, so like a funnel, it is wide at the top and narrow at the bottom. See the diagram below from Entrepreneur, which also depicts how potential customers may be attracted by a lead magnet:

Small business coach

At each stage of the funnel, the lead is interested in different things. For example at the awareness stage, they probably want to know more about a specific problem. At interest and decision stages, they want to learn about their options for dealing with the problem.

As a small business coach, a sales funnel is a great opportunity to help people get to know you and build their trust in you. You’re able to showcase your expertise throughout. Here’s an example of how that might work:

  1. Lead signs up for a free guidebook you have written that addresses something that concerns them (that you can help with). For example “How Your Own Mental Blocks Are Holding Back Your Business.” They now enter the “awareness” section of the funnel.

  2. You send regular emails, including an invite to a webinar you are giving on that problem or something closely related. (Interest)

  3. The webinar grabs the interest of the lead so they enter into the next step with you – a quiz designed to see if you will be able to help them. (Something like this can be a great way to segment leads so that you’re only continuing with those you can help the most.) (Decision)

  4. The leads that “pass” your quiz are invited to apply to your coaching program. The features and benefits of doing so are highlighted for them. They take action – either by joining or declining. (Action)

The idea of a marketing funnel is that if you pull it off well, you’re left with highly qualified leads. It’s a common frustration of small business coaches that you often spend time on “tire kickers” when you’d like to spend more time with those who are genuinely interested!

Another great thing about marketing funnels is that you can automate all or most parts of them. So for example, when someone signs up for your lead magnet, that can trigger a series of events based on actions that they take.

You may find that when the lead reaches the decision stage, it is appropriate to schedule a consultation with you to seal the deal. This is common when people require a bit more of a personalized touch to reach a decision. (It’s also a good reason to stow the personal consultation down your funnel, rather than leading with it. This should mean that you’re able to convert more of the people whom you talk with).

Take opportunities to establish thought leadership

One of the big things people expect from coaches is that they are thought leaders. People come to you because you have the necessary skills to help them plan, strategize and be more self-aware. Establishing credibility in the space is important, especially with so many people now selling themselves as coaches.

How can you do this online? We’ve got a few suggestions here:

  • Write regularly on key topics in your niche. This might be for your own blog, or for guest posts on other blogs and on sites like Medium. Look for opportunities to share your work, for example sometimes local newspapers will run guest columns from coaches that will be published online.

  • Be consistent on social media. You don’t have to cover every channel, but work out where your target audience is most likely to be found. For example, LinkedIn is a business and career-oriented platform, will you find a lot of your audience there?

  • Consider creating a podcast. Only do this if you have the time to commit to a regular publishing schedule! Many entrepreneurs and small business owners like to listen to podcasts, especially if they’re on the go. Otherwise, see if you can get a guest spot on another popular podcast, one that is likely to reach your target audience.

  • Run webinars, or be a guest on someone else’s. If you’re comfortable in front of a camera, this can be a good way to make people feel that they know you better.

These online opportunities to establish yourself as a thought leader not only help to build your public profile, but SEO value for your business too. The more content out there that focuses on you and your niche, the more likely you are to come up in related searches.

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Final thoughts

As a small business coach, marketing yourself so that you will stand out from others is essential. Online channels give you the opportunity to reach a wider audience, but you have to start with defining exactly who that audience is.

From there, establish regular contact with your leads via an email list. Have an effective marketing funnel (or more than one) so that prospects are automatically lead down a path toward purchasing from you.

Finally, harness the power of online channels to build up your own credibility and thought leadership. Think about what people want as a requirement of their coaches – why should they choose you?

How Much Does it Cost to Maintain a Website

How Much Does it Cost to Maintain a Website?

Website maintenance is important if you want to keep your business website in top shape. 

It’s kind of like owning a car in that maintenance on a regular basis helps you to avoid a costly fix if something goes wrong. But how much are those maintenance costs? Can you expect to pay as much in website maintenance costs as you would for maintaining your car?

The answer really is “it depends.” Your typical WordPress website with a few regular plugins and paid website hosting generally won’t cost you too much at all. On the other hand, a website design with a lot of custom coding or more expensive plugins will cost a lot more.

Here we’re breaking down the approximate cost of website maintenance under different scenarios:

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Regular website maintenance costs

There are certain things that you will have to pay for on a regular basis to maintain a website – usually paid monthly or annually. These costs will vary, depending on how you have set up your site.

Domain name and SSL certificate

You buy your domain, but it only remains yours so long as you keep paying for its registration. When you purchase from a domain registrar, you usually have the option of registering for a period of one year minimum and up to ten years maximum. This maximum depends upon the domain type – for a .com that’s ten years but for others it may only be one year at a time. If you renew annually, the cost is usually between $10 and $40, depending on the registrar and domain type.

Having an SSL certificate is a must for any small business website. It helps to foster trust between you and your customers and importantly, avert cyber attacks and protect your data. The maximum validity period for an SSL certificate is three years, so you’ll either be renewing annually, every two or every three years. 

There are different levels of SSL certificate depending on what you need. For example, a small business that has a very basic, informational website or blog may only need a Domain Validation SSL. A Business Validation SSL is the next level up and is ideal for any business website that takes payments online. This level of SSL certificate ensures you meet Payment Card Industry requirements (PCI). There are a couple of other levels of SSL that larger organizations may require, particularly as they will secure multiple subdomains. 

The price for renewing an SSL certificate begins somewhere around $10 for the basic level and goes up to somewhere around $4000 (think of a financial institution’s website for this top-end). The average for a business website tends to be somewhere between $40 and $60.

How Much Does it Cost to Maintain a Website

Web hosting

Web hosting is another essential part of owning a business website. Hosting is how your website is made available on the internet for people to Google or access directly. There are different levels of web hosting, so your hosting costs depend on how you have been set up. For example, if you’ve created a Wix website, you’ll pay the monthly fee attached to the package you chose, which will include your hosting.

If we look at WordPress websites, there are a number of different options. Basic hosting, where you look after website maintenance yourself might cost as little as a few dollars per month. However, this is something to be careful of when looking at hosting plans. Cheap hosting usually means shared servers and when a shared server gets too crowded, it can affect the performance of your business website.  You should also consider, do you as the website owner really want to be making any software updates, updates to security or installation of new features yourself?

Another option is one we offer with our packages here at One Week Website: fully managed hosting services. This means that the host looks after installing WordPress, security, speed, WordPress updates, daily backups, website uptime, and scalability. These are all things that are essential and that most business owners don’t want to take care of themselves. Our managed hosting starts at $149 per month, however that’s as part of a new website package along with regular updates. Basic managed hosting (where you take care of other website updates yourself) can be around $50 per month.

WordPress plugin costs

Plugins add essential functionality to any WordPress website. For example, you might use plugins for payment gateways, to set up an ecommerce store or to manage website content. Some plugins are free, but some premium plugins are paid, either one-off or monthly. How much will these cost you? Once again, it depends. Monthly rates tend to range between $5 and $100.

Less regular (but essential) website maintenance

Some website maintenance requirements will be more or less regular for you, depending on your preferences. For example, if your current website is looking dated, you may want a website designer to update its appearance. Design costs are generally a one-time fee (unless you buy a package that spreads the cost out) and can vary from a few hundred dollars to $10,000 or more. 

Here are some other important website maintenance items:

Content updates

There are many reasons to make regular content updates on your website. For one thing, the information you provide should always be up-to-date. Business websites that still reference a past event as though it is still coming up look as though they’re not being used. You might have essential people come and go, or other important information that requires an update.

If you operate a blog on your website, then usually you would update the content at regular intervals – weekly or fortnightly. Some business owners will do this themselves, but others would prefer to have someone else make those updates. The amount you pay is generally in line with how many updates you want the web agency, freelancers or whomever you use to make. We offer unlimited website changes as part of our two premium packages.

SEO updates

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is another area that needs to be looked at regularly. This is because the algorithms the search engines use are always being updated. If you left your website as-is, you’d risk that you might drop in ranking on Google because some essential element is missing (or causing you to be penalized).

How will you know you need an SEO update? There are a few clues:

  1. You learn of a major algorithm update
  2. You notice that your organic traffic has dropped or been stagnant
  3. You want to improve your overall search engine rankings and haven’t noticed any change, despite making an effort.

How much will this cost? You could take the DIY route, in which case it costs your time. You might also have these sorts of updates as part of a package with your web agency, or, you could hire an SEO specialist. That last option tends to be the most expensive one, usually costing $2000+ (which can be well-worth it if you get results).

New feature updates

With technology evolving rapidly, there can be any number of reasons that your website might need feature updates. For example, perhaps you need to add new payment options or integrations with social media. Maybe you want new add-ons or a more efficient way of getting clients to book appointments. Adding new features isn’t about “keeping up with the Joneses,” it’s about maintaining a website that is attractive to the user.

As technology changes, people become more discerning and have higher expectations about how websites should operate. If your business website is lagging behind, you may lose potential customers who look for a website that is easier to use. If you’re looking at feature updates, we’d always prioritize items that will make the user experience better. How much will this cost? It very much depends on the feature and its complexity. If you can’t buy it “out of the box” such as a plugin, then you’ll need it custom-coded which will cost you more.

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Final thoughts

How much does it cost to maintain a website? The answer is difficult to quantify – as you can see here, your costs will depend upon your needs and the complexity of your website. If we’re talking WordPress websites, I’d say anything from $500 to $10,000 annually.

I’d like to end with this: your website is like a window into your business via the online world, so it’s in your best interests to keep it maintained. You get your car detailed and maintained, and a website needs that care too. Not only do you look after the experience of your website visitors, but you keep “what’s under the hood” running well.

Copywriting examples

What You Can Learn From These Top Copywriting Examples

Even if your business currently employs the talents of a copywriter, you can still learn a thing or two from the top copywriting examples out there. 

Whether you are aware of it or not, your website copy will either attract or deter your target audience. The words you use really matter!

Good copywriting engages people. It entices them to want to learn more. On the other hand, bland copy will send them to snoozeville. We’re talking the kind of copy that just spits out data, or is written for the sake of SEO. While copywriting and SEO aren’t mutually exclusive, there’s an art to ensuring you’ve got the best of both.

Here we’re looking at some case study examples so you will know how some of the best do it. What can you learn and take away for you own business?

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The landing page

A good landing page has one job and one job only – to sell your customer on an action you want them to take. A landing page is a standalone marketing page that your target audience arrives at, usually by clicking on a banner or an advertisement of some kind. The goal action may be to get them to buy or to sign up for something.

With this important job, good copywriting is essential for any landing page. You need marketing copy in headlines, sub headlines, body copy and the call to action. It’s not easy to design a winning landing page, but you can learn a thing or two from some of the best:

Drip

Copywriting examples

What works well?

  • They clearly identify the value proposition, or what the target audience is going to get. “Double your leads” is an enticing prospect!
  • They highlight that the course is free, but has a value of $197. People always love to think they’re getting a steal.
  • They use simple, short sentences to highlight what the prospect will get out of signing up.
  • Use of bullet points makes the page easy to scan.
  • The layout is clean and simple with a clear call to action.

What else could they do?

  • Perhaps highlight the value proposition – “double your leads” – over and above “getting started with Drip.”
  • Some people might find the social media share buttons distracting.

MeetEdgar

 

Copywriting examples

What works well?

  • Very direct and effective headline. They address the objections of their target audience about social media (whether or not it will work for them) AND nail the benefit of automation.
  • The call to action is interesting and clear. Instead of something like “get it here” they say “see how it works.”
  • Very clear and succinct description of what the product is and does.

What else could they do?

  • Perhaps they could test saying a little more about what people are getting by handing over their email address in the copy. It’s not exactly clear.

[bctt tweet=”Always highlight your value proposition as clearly as possible in your website copy” username=”onewkwebsite”]

The social media accounts

Copywriting for social media isn’t as easy as it sounds. If you want to optimize how you use your accounts, then you need to be able to go beyond simple descriptions or sharing of GIFs.  There’s an art to engaging your target audience on their busy newsfeed and being able to combat any lurking trolls.

Here are some examples of social media copywriting done well:

Charmin

How does a toilet paper company keep social media interesting? Charmin’s Twitter account is one to behold. From pop culture references (Game of Thrones – get it? 😉 ) to subtle, yet witty sales copy, the brand has managed to engage good copywriting without being overly vulgar.

Copywriting examples

Lessons you can take from Charmin:

  • Where appropriate, find the humor in your brand!
  • If you can, make connections with pop culture.
  • Come up with your own interesting (and topical) hashtag. Charmin’s “Tweets from the Seat” hashtag series has become popular and again, highlights their sense of humor. 
  • Address any common questions or objections that your product or service might raise. For example, Charmin highlights their commitment to sourcing their paper from responsibly managed forests.
Copywriting examples

Away

Instagram is one social media platform where businesses often struggle with their copywriting. The platform is very much for the visual, but what you say and the hashtags you use matter too.

Away is a luggage brand that’s mastered the subtle art of sales copy on Instagram without appearing to be pushing a sale. Using the hashtag #travelaway, they highlight the possibilities and experiences that owning a suitcase can bring. Their images and copy aren’t just about the luggage, they’re about where that luggage might take you. 

Lessons you can take from Away:

  • Consider the benefits or experiences that your product or service can help enable.
  • Use high-quality images with your copy – that’s what people notice first.
  • When producing social media, consider how you might utilize user-generated content. Many of the pictures they share come from their customers.
  • Don’t write a paragraph when a sentence will do. If you can keep it brief, people are more likely to remain engaged.
Copywriting examples

Hootsuite

Facebook newsfeed advertising is a tricky thing to get right. Somehow, among all of that noise on the target audience newsfeed, you need to ensure that your ad stands out.

Hootsuite does well at grabbing attention (after all, their brand does specialize in social media!). Take the advertisement shown below; what you can’t see here is that it’s actually a brief video. The video shows a few sentences and points (all written) about why you should pay attention to the product:

Copywriting examples

Lessons you can take away:

  • Spice up copy with a multimedia format. This advert is made more interesting by the fact that you need to pause and watch each sentence come up.
  • Keep copy short, sweet and benefit-driven. “Effortlessly execute social campaigns with Hootsuite Planner.”
  • Dangle a carrot where you can. “Try it free for 30 days” is an excellent hook.

The homepage

Homepage copywriting is arguably one of the most important aspects of your website. As we always say, your target audience needs to immediately be able to grasp what you do and what it has to do with them. Otherwise, they’ll probably depart.

Your messaging should be central to your homepage copy. You should tell what you do and describe your value proposition. Here are a couple of good examples you can “borrow” from:

Perfectly Placed

Copywriting examples

What you can take away:

  • Check out how simple and benefit-driven that headline is! It very succinctly states what they do and what the benefit is. Always think in terms of “what’s in it for me?” (your customer) on your homepage.
  • They clearly state who they offer their service to. If your business is restricted by geography, make sure this is stated upfront so that you don’t waste anyone’s time (or your own).
  • Clear call to action with a prominent button – “Get organized now.”

Fitness Builder

Copywriting examples

What you can take away:

  • That headline is pure benefit in as few words as possible – “get ripped.” In case anyone has any confusion, it is backed up by the image of the muscular guy next to it. How briefly can you state your primary benefit?
  • Give people the numbers where possible – we are attracted to them! “With over 1000 workouts and 7000+ fitness videos to choose from.”
  • Give people an option to sign up above the fold (although we wonder with this one if they’ve tested having the headline above the signup form, rather than the other way around).
  • That is one slick value proposition: “work out anytime, anywhere with your portable, affordable personal trainer.

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Final thoughts

Your social media, landing page or web copy should speak directly to the target audience you aim to attract. While top copywriters spend years honing their craft (and tend to be expensive to hire), you can still pick up a few good tips from the companies we have highlighted.

If we were to boil good copywriting down, it would come to messaging and simplicity. All businesses should have clear and consistent messaging and copy should be written as simply as possible. Don’t be tempted to waffle on when a sentence or two will do!

Best author websites

5 of the Best Author Websites We’ve Found

If you are a writer of any sort, an author site is a key tool for creating an online presence. Having your own website gives you a great platform from which to market your various books or services and to take control of how you are portrayed online.

Whether you are self-publishing, working through an agent or even blogging, an author’s website offers you the opportunity to reach more potential readers. Combine that with social media reach and any other marketing efforts and you can build up quite an online audience.

Many authors struggle to decide what they should do in terms of putting together a website, so here we’re looking at five of the best author websites we could find. See what they are doing well and think about how you could “borrow” their strategy for yourself:

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#1. Jeff Goins – Tell your story

Best author websites

Jeff Goins is a great example of an author who speaks to his identified target audience immediately. “Tell your story,” his headline says on his homepage, immediately evoking a desire or pain point among his readers. The books Jeff writes and the talks he gives are for other “artists” who aren’t sure how to make a living out of what they do, or how to build up an audience for themselves.

This headline is followed by an obvious call to action to get a free guide he has created, helping people to tell their own stories. You can see a second call to action in the header that is also designed to attract his target audience by giving them what they want; “Start a daily writing habit and FINALLY finish your book.”

The website design is simple and clean. In fact, we can even tell you what WordPress theme he used! The tool “What WordPress Theme is That?” reveals that his website uses Tribe2, a theme by Notable Themes that has specifically been created for authors, writers and artists. 

Scrolling further down the homepage, Goins has a further call to action and a short and sweet introductory section about himself. This section again highlights who his target audience is and gives a strong call to action:

“And here’s the thing: you don’t have to starve to share your best work. If you have a passion for creativity and changing the world, this is the place for you. I invite you to subscribe and sit tight. This is going to be fun.”

The next section highlights testimonials as social proof, providing potential readers with the answer to “why should I listen to you?” He keeps it simple on the homepage, with only his latest book and book cover shown, then links to his podcast, blog and further information. Site navigation is easy to follow from the buttons at the bottom of the page. 

A great value-add for his target audience is the “resources” page which is included in the links at the bottom of the homepage. Here he outlines some key resources for the budding or aspiring writer. It’s good use of the idea of reciprocity – when someone sees the useful information he provides for free, they wonder what he includes in his books. This is an excellent book marketing technique.

[bctt tweet=”A great author website looks for ways to add value to the audience” username=”onewkwebsite”]

2. Cassandra Clare – Marketing multiple series

Best author websites

If you’re the prolific author of multiple book series, then keeping a website well-coordinated can be a challenge. Cassandra Clare is a well-known fantasy author who releases a few books each year and has created an intertwining fantasy world across the different book series.

There is a lot going on for an author site, but it has been designed to be simple to navigate. Each series has its own menu button at the top and importantly for book marketing, there is a prominent “coming soon” tab. The main images are a gallery that goes between new-release titles and artwork for the books. If it’s all a bit overwhelming for someone new to Clare’s books, there is a helpful “where to start” tab at the top. Any author of multiple interweaving books where it is important that the reader start with certain titles should have a similar page.

The website design definitely involves custom coding to achieve the vintage look, but the overall vibe really works for the history and fantasy elements of Clare’s books. It’s worth investing in an appropriate look if you are a genre author.

As an interesting addition in her “resources” section, Clare directly addresses her core target audience – young readers. For any who are interested in how to become an author or who would like to ask questions for a school project, she provides a list of FAQs for them to get the information.

There are clear calls to action for readers to sign up for her email list, which is another excellent marketing technique. Each book page also includes links to Amazon and other sites where it can be purchased.

#3. Jennifer Niven – Website for different genres

Best author websites

What if you’re an author who writes across a spectrum of genres, including fiction and nonfiction? Jennifer Niven introduces herself as such: “I’ve written nonfiction and fiction, both historical and contemporary, adult and YA. At first glance, my books are all over the map, but if you look closely they share a common theme: they are stories about ordinary people doing extraordinary things.”

This is how she’s drawn them all together into an effective author site – by highlighting the common theme among them all. Her introduction here is short yet interesting, appealing to a broad audience yet also narrowing it down to those who are interested in reading about people. Notably, she tends to write about strong, independent women, who would form a core part of her target audience.

Scrolling down her homepage, Niven highlights her New York Times bestsellers first, a sort of “social proof” for anyone who may not have read her books yet. She shows the book cover and the Amazon or other purchase links so that people can easily order the book immediately.

The website design is simple and contemporary, making it easy for potential readers to navigate. Niven also includes her social networking links at the top of the page, helping to grow her social media audience too.

#4. Peter Rosenberger – Hope for the Caregiver

Best author websites

Peter Rosenberger gives a great example of an author website for someone who specializes in a particular non-fiction niche. He is an author, speaker, and a known expert in his field – being the primary caregiver of an adult in his household (his wife).

One of the striking things that will immediately resonate with his target audience (other caregivers) is his list of “credentials” for being an expert on the topic. The first thing you see on the homepage is details about his wife; 80 surgeries, multiple amputations, 100+ physicians and of course – one caregiver for the last 30 years. This will immediately resonate with anyone who might be struggling with the caregiving role and looking for someone who will understand. It says “I get you.”

Instead of making an obvious push to sell books, Rosenberger’s site provides a wealth of information for his audience. There is a “books” tab showcasing his titles, but he largely relies on good content marketing to get his message across. He includes facts, statistics and free content such as videos and clips from his radio show. It gets back to that idea of sharing value with the target audience to create goodwill and boost the author platform.

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#5. Paul Jarvis – Bigger isn’t always better

Best author websites

Paul Jarvis’ website is a good reflection of his personal ethos – that business growth (or being bigger) isn’t always better or even required of business owners. His website is one of the simplest you’ll ever see – that’s the homepage above.

Jarvis has a quick call to action to join his email newsletter, but other than that, he’s basically practicing what he preaches. A complex website with multiple calls to action, images and paragraphs wouldn’t really suit his core message.

The tiny homepage does leave room for a brief piece of social proof – a one-line recommendation from Cal Newport, who many followers of productivity practices will already know.  Basic navigation buttons lead people to Jarvis’ products, articles and newsletter. It’s very simple, but it works for his core messaging.

Final thoughts

If we were to sum up anything that these very different author websites have in common, it’s that they adeptly speak to the target audience they are seeking to attract.

The best author websites aren’t just about showcasing the books that they sell, they’re about engaging the imagination or the core needs of the audience. All of these authors have found ways to deliver extra value for people who visit their website.

Of course, good design helps too. If you need a sharp new author’s website, then have a chat with us at One Week Website here.

 

Tell a great story

How to Tell a Great Story and Hook Your Audience

We all have a story to tell, so how will your business tell yours?

The art of storytelling is a key ingredient for audience engagement. When you hear someone tell a great story, you’re hooked. You hone your focus on what they’re saying because you have to know what happens next.

On the other hand, we’ve all experienced the rambling story, or the story that’s so boring you struggle to focus your attention. What’s the difference between the two? The skill of the storyteller.

Telling a great story is an artform. When brands master this art, they can capture the attention of their audiences and cement memories within their minds. It’s a way of differentiating your business from your competitor’s and generating customer loyalty while you’re at it.

Here are some key things you should know about storytelling:

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The science of storytelling

The importance of storytelling has become well-accepted in brand marketing today, but what makes it work so well?

It turns out, our brains are wired to engage with a good story. If you picture your primitive cave-dwelling ancestors gathered around a fire, storytelling was a device for communicating messages that were often necessary for the survival of the species. Tales of where that saber-toothed tiger was and how to avoid or defeat it would have literally saved lives.

Scientific studies show that a good story can light up different parts of our brains. For example, when our emotions are triggered by a story the areas responsible for empathy often light up. Your sensory areas may light up in response to descriptions of smells, tastes or feelings. A good story is an immersive experience which is largely what makes it so memorable.

Tell a great story

[bctt tweet=”Good storytelling isn’t just an art, it’s neurology.” username=”onewkwebsite”]

The benefits of storytelling for your business

In a nutshell, here are a few benefits your business can gain from mastering storytelling:

  • Building a true connection with people.
  • Getting and holding attention.
  • Being memorable in the minds of your audience.
  • Connecting with a core “why” within your customers. A “why” goes deeper than what the product is and does, it is grounded in emotion for the customer. For example, a deep “why” might be “I want to provide for my family.”
  • Helping customers to understand your message better.

The bottom line is, good storytelling is interesting for the audience. Most of us would love to think we’re not boring our audiences!

How to tell a great story

Some people seem to be natural-born storytellers, but it’s definitely a skill you can learn! The best storytellers tend to have practiced and honed their craft over time. Whether your story is written or told in front of a live audience, here are a few key principles for telling it well:

Start with a hook

The “hook” leaves us wanting more information. It might create tension or stir a strong emotion – it always entices us to ask, “what’s next?”

Consider these famous openers:

  • “It was a dark and stormy night…” (Washington Irving – A History of New York)
  • “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…” (Charles Dickens – A Tale of Two Cities)
  • “Let me tell you a story…” (Simple and effectively used by many good speakers)
  • “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.” (J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone).

Each opening line here is very different, but all serve to set the scene well. They hook the attention of the audience and capture their imagination. They often introduce or foreshadow a potential conflict. In J.K. Rowling’s example, you can imagine something abnormal may happen to people described as “perfectly normal.”

If your storytelling medium is video, you might use a verbal hook, or open by allowing the scene and the background music to provoke emotion. In any case, you need a great hook to engage your audience from the beginning.

Use descriptive language

Rather than commenting or giving a brief “montage,” describe what is happening so that the audience can picture or feel themselves within your story. When you are descriptive (consider the senses when you do so), your audience’s brains respond as though they are part of the story. It’s the same when you inject emotion into your story.

Consider things like:

  • The scene – where are you? What’s happening? What is the weather/atmosphere like?
  • How were you feeling?
  • Who was there? What did they say?
  • Was there a particular challenge or conflict you had to overcome?

Remember that a good story has a natural rhythm for it. If you’re not sure where to begin, opting for chronological order is often a good way to ensure you don’t lose people.

Have a relatable purpose

In Christopher Booker’s book, The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories, he outlines seven basic plots that account for most good stories:

  1. Overcoming the monster
  2. Rags to Riches
  3. The Quest
  4. Voyage and Return
  5. Comedy
  6. Tragedy
  7. Rebirth

Your story should always have an overall purpose or meaning that is relatable to the audience you want to attract. Each of those seven basic plots are relatable to the human condition. We are enthralled by The Lord of the Rings because most of us have experienced some kind of succeed or fail quest (even if it wasn’t as high-stakes as destroying the One Ring!). We are drawn to the types of comedy that highlight real, human emotions or satirical commentary because we see ourselves and our own emotions in the story.

A good story flows as a sort of journey that you’re inviting others to come on with you. For a great brand example, check out Land Rover’s The Land of Land Rovers campaign. It’s part quest, part voyage and return and part overcoming the monster as brave drivers transport supplies over treacherous mountain roads.

At the same time of course, they’re also saying something about the reliability and durability of their products as workhorses on the road:

Edit for clarity and effectiveness

Sometimes telling everything isn’t the way to a great story. If your quest includes wandering off to buy candy halfway through, this may not add to the story at all (unless something important happened at the candy store).

One way to avoid unnecessary detours is to be clear about what the main message is that you want to get across. There might be small sub-conversations within that main message, but they all should add to the story – give it clarity and color.

Remember that the human attention span is relatively short, but we do tend to pay attention to anything that triggers emotion. Sometimes details will add to a story, but sometimes they will take away from the emotion you’d like to convey. This is neuroscience too – while one section of our brain lights up when we process data, more parts of the brain get involved when we process emotions. We can produce oxytocin and dopamine in response to emotional stimuli, which makes the experience more engaging.

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Final thoughts

Learning to tell a great story can be a real asset to your business. You can use this technique to convey a memorable message and engage with your target audience.

Good storytelling is part artform and part neuroscience. We relate to a well-told story on a sort of primitive level, dating back thousands of years. Once you engage your audience with an initial hook, the key is to keep them there through colorful sensory information and emotions. Be ruthless about cutting any details that don’t really add value.

For your next ad campaign or key piece of content, consider how you might use storytelling techniques to attract your audience. What is it that you really want to share?

Copywriting examples

5 Amazing Copywriting Examples (And How You Can Use Them for Your Website)

The words you use matter.

In fact, copywriting is one of the most important facets of a successful website. Good copywriting sells. It engages potential customers, takes product descriptions from mediocre to killer, boosts SEO and gives a good overall impression of your value proposition and expertise.

For many small business owners, web copy is a priority, but they may lack the know-how to pull it off. You can spend a lot of money on hiring a copywriter, or you can seek to learn to write your own copy.

Copywriting is a learned skill and we’re not saying you’ll become an overnight master. But if hiring a copywriter is off the table, you can learn a few basics to improve your own. We’ve lined up five top copywriting examples that you can learn from:

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#1. Moosejaw – Copywriting full of personality

Sometimes people try to be a bit too clever with their web copy and their messaging ends up getting lost. Not so with Moosejaw. The outdoor clothing and equipment retailer manages to meld clever copywriting with clarity, so if you happen upon their website, social media or a landing page, you’ll know exactly what it is that they do.

Moosejaw’s copywriting is injected with personality and humor anywhere you look. They manage to convey exactly what a product does, or highlight benefits while having less-than conventional product descriptions. For example, the image below shows a home page ad. Each banner like this has a line in their “voice” (in this case, “holds a couple of kegs, or kids I guess.”).

Copywriting examples

If you take a look at their product descriptions, there’s always some twist to keep them interesting. For example, the hoody with a “kangaroo front pocket to discreetly practice finger puppetry.”

Copywriting examples

An important thing that Moosejaw does well is show consistency with their copywriting voice across their different channels. If you look to their social media, you’ll see the same sort of humor that you’ll find on their website.

Action item: Have you identified your brand personality? If so, does your website copy, social media and product descriptions reflect that? Moosejaw injects their own personality but not in an over-the-top fashion. You can add elements of personality without detracting from what you’re trying to sell.

[bctt tweet=”Your copywriting “voice” should be consistent across all brand channels” username=”onewkwebsite”]

#2. Snowbird – Making incredible web copy from one-star reviews

Most of the time, if you’re on the receiving end of one-star reviews, it’s not a great thing for your business. However, in this particular case study, we can show you how one-star reviews can be transformed to appeal to your core target audience.

You see, Snowbird is a ski resort that may not appeal to novice or beginner snowbirds. And that’s the way they like it. Their target audience is the more experienced and adventurous skier who loves it when the snow is “too deep” and the trail “too steep” (as referred to in some of their one-star reviews).

They market themselves as a challenging adventure, so many of the one-star reviews they’ve received actually back what they say about themselves. The resort has taken several of these reviews and superimposed them onto beautiful photographs of their runs and scenery.

Copywriting examples

“Too steep? Too hard? Too much snow? Isn’t that why you came here? At Snowbird, what you see is what you get. But, be prepared for it to exceed your wildest expectations.”

Snowbird is now effectively marketing themselves as the “most misunderstood ski resort in the world”, using the factors that beginners find annoying to appeal to their true target audience. It’s a great example of how to spin negative feedback so that it is an overall positive for the company.

Action item: Do you have any negative feedback that is simultaneously appealing to the audience you want to attract? Can you use it to inject personality and your brand “voice” into your copy?

#3. Trello – Clear marketing copy for a technical product

Here’s the issue with many tech companies – they focus so much on the technology itself that they fail to make it clear to the regular person what it is that they do. Trello is an excellent example of a tech company that combines great copywriting with a technical product to ensure the target audience will understand right away. The fact is, if you have no prior knowledge of Trello, their homepage should get you up-to-speed very quickly.

Copywriting examples

Their tagline on their homepage is simple and benefit-driven. They manage to convey clearly why someone should use their product in just a couple of brief sentences. If you move into “the basics” explainer content, you find that it really can’t be any simpler.

A big part of Trello’s brand is productivity through simplicity, but their copywriters manage to keep their web content simple too. This sort of clear communication is likely to bring them much more sales than confounding people with the clever technical aspects of their product!

Action item: Does your website have a clear tagline? Can people tell immediately what it is that you do? If you’re not sure, try getting feedback from third parties who don’t know you.

#4. RX Bar – Simple copywriting, back to basics

One of the hallmarks of great copywriting is when the copywriter can sell the audience on something without needing to write “extra” words. RX Bar does just that and in doing so, stays true to its own brand philosophy – “no B.S.”

While traditionally, makers of protein bars and other “healthy” snacks have had a whole list of unpronounceable ingredients, RX Bar sticks to just a few very simple ingredients in their products. Their protein bars have just four “real food” ingredients and a fifth, their brand hallmark, “no B.S.” (or “no bad stuff” in the case of their kid’s bars).

They will genuinely appeal to the target audience that is health conscious and wants to know exactly what is in their food. There have been many concerns raised over the multitude of different ingredients in the highly processed foods that are available, and a move to get back to basics which their brand embraces.

Copywriting examples

Whoever wrote the copy for RX Bar does so in as few words as possible – basically bullet points. They convey that message of simplicity in the words that they do choose: “Real ingredients, 0g added sugar, 9g of protein” is the explainer line on their website. This is a good habit to get into with any form of sales copy – paring it back to the basics.

Action item: Do you have “too many words” in important parts of your website? Is there a way you can dial it back to just the words needed to clearly get your message across?

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#5. Chris Guillebeau – Web copy for the “unconventional”

If you haven’t come across author, speaker, podcast host, travel hacker, course writer and event founder Chris Guillebeau, his work provides both a fascinating and practical look at living life “unconventionally.” With all of his many hats, you’d have to wonder how he can put that together into a cohesive, branded website?

That’s just it – “unconventional” is his brand and that’s how it all fits together. If you are a person searching to live life on your own terms and avoid the many traps of conventional expectations, he has the ideas and the inspiration to get you going.

When you first arrive on his website, the beauty of the copy is in the simplicity. He has broken down each of those things that he does into succinct, one-sentence snippets. His tagline, “you don’t have to live your life the way others expect” sums it up nicely, while his opt-in form is another great example of simple, persuasive language.

Copywriting examples

We chose this example of a personal website because many business owners of personal brands struggle to come up with a succinct way to market themselves, even without as many things going on as Chris! He has found a way to make all that he offers work together.

Action item: Can you sum up what you do with one sentence, or even one word? Like any other business website, a personal brand website should be clear to the target audience from the very beginning.

Final thoughts

Your website copy is one of the key elements impacting the overall success or failure of your website. Copywriting is a valuable skill, and one that earns top copywriters a lot of money. However, if hiring a copywriter isn’t within your budget, you can learn some key lessons from the case studies we have outlined here.

If there is one underlying message, it is probably that you need to persuade with your words, but do so as simply and clearly as possible. As we’ve talked about previously with Storybrand, “the answer to confusion is no.”

If you work to simplify the copy on your website while having a clear brand voice, you may be surprised by the results you get.

Small business marketing coach

What to Look For in a Small Business Marketing Coach

Have you thought about hiring a small business marketing coach?

Many business owners are taking the leap to get themselves to the next level with marketing strategy and results. You don’t want just anyone, though: marketing coaching should come from an experienced professional.

Over the last few years, you’d be forgiven for thinking that almost everyone now seems to be a marketing consultant or offering business coaching. There are tales of bad experiences with so-called gurus out there, so it’s understandable to show some caution before making a hiring decision.

This leaves the question, what should you look for in a small business marketing coach? Here are some key attributes we believe are critical:

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#1. Their small business marketing knowledge

We’ve got this at numero uno because there’s no way you want a “those who can’t do, teach” situation. If you’re really looking to learn more about marketing to stretch your own skills, then the person coaching you needs to have decent small business marketing knowledge themselves.

A good marketing coach has years of experience with small business strategies. They understand the challenges, opportunities and key factors that lead to business success. They didn’t complete an online marketing course last week – they’ve built their knowledge over years of practice.

You should expect that someone coaching marketing strategy has a broad knowledge base of key marketing services. At the very least, they should have in-depth knowledge of areas that you’d specifically like to target, such as creating a marketing plan, identifying a target market, social media, SEO and email marketing.

Importantly, the coach should be a continuous learner. Small business marketing evolves all the time, especially with new technology. A good marketing coach keeps up with the changes and understands their impact on businesses.

Action point: Find out about their own level of marketing knowledge, how they learned it and what they do to stay current.

Small business marketing coach

[bctt tweet=”A business marketing coach should have years of relevant experience” username=”onewkwebsite”]

#2. Their own small business success

Generally speaking, a credible small business coach should be in that position because they have something to offer based on their own success. They may have owned a small business themselves, or they’ve offered marketing services and know what works.

In other words, you want a marketing coach with a proven track record of successful marketing strategy implementation. There’s a common job interview question where the candidate will be asked to describe a time they used their skills to get a positive result – this is what you want from your marketing coach.

It’s about having a wide breadth of experience too. If you’re paying for marketing coaching services, you should expect that your coach is more experienced or successful in the area/s you need help with than you are.

Action point: Ask them to give you examples of their own successful marketing efforts.

#3. Marketing coaching skills and experience

Generally speaking, years of experience in small business marketing will only get a person so far as a marketing coach. The fact is that not everyone who is good at something makes a great coach. Most of us have experienced this at some point, even if it was back when you played sports in high school!

Marketing coaching requires a very particular set of skills, revolving around getting the best from the client. For example, a good marketing coach will:

  • Help you to conceive and stay focused on your core marketing strategy
  • Ensure that you have a marketing plan and that it focuses on the right activities for your business.
  • Help you to uncover core issues that you may not see yourself which can hinder business success.
  • Help to connect you with the right marketing resources.
  • Provide accountability to ensure you are following action plans.
  • Motivate and empower you to do better.

One thing to remember is that the coaching profession is not a regulated industry. This means that anyone can nail a sign to their door calling themselves a coach. You might want to choose someone who has a coaching accreditation from a reputable coaching school.

Additionally, your marketing coach should have good coaching experience to draw from. This is the case most of the time anyway – occasionally you might be willing to overlook years of experience if they have a lot of relevant business success and experience.

Action point: Look for coaching skills in a coach. You can often learn a lot about this from reviews by their current or past clients.

#4. Marketing strategy skills for your specific needs

One of the triggers that often leads to a small business owner looking for a marketing coach is that they’d like to take a certain marketing strategy direction, but don’t know where to start. For example, perhaps you have mainly focused on traditional advertising but would like to do more with digital marketing – an appropriate coach for you will have extensive digital marketing experience.

In other words, the areas the marketing coach specializes in should match up with what you need. Preferably, they should have expert status in the area/s of marketing that you’d like to focus on.

What might denote expert status? Regular writing, speaking and teaching on those areas of marketing is a good start. These are things you can easily look up and verify. You can also usually find information about the relevant experience the coach has as a marketer.

Action point: Know which areas of marketing you want to focus on and check that the coach has relevant expertise.

#5. Marketing consultant skills

Chances are you actually need marketing consultant skills as well as coaching. The two terms might sound like synonyms, but they actually involve different skills.

For example, while a coach helps people with things like getting unstuck, managing their time, taking action and reaching their potential, a consultant is more about helping you develop a solid marketing system.

Consultant skills include things like:

  • Brainstorming marketing ideas
  • Giving advice on creating successful marketing strategy (a coach often leads you to your own realizations rather than giving advice)
  • Creating and implementing action plans
  • Providing an honest assessment of where things are and how they’re working.

Action point: Look to reviews of the coach to find out about their specific consulting skills.

Small business marketing coach

#6. A coaching process that suits your needs

A marketing coach has to be a good fit for you. This includes things like their personality, values and their overall coaching process. There is no one blueprint for how to coach, so if the process one person follows isn’t really you, chances are there’s another coach with a process you’ll like.

Here are some things to consider about whether a coach is suitable for you:

  • When and how do they meet with you? Does their timing and method work for you?
  • Do you feel the coach is a good fit personality-wise?
  • Does the coach seem to have the energy levels that are suited to you?
  • Do you feel positive about the coach and their methodology?
  • Do you feel that you can trust the coach and that you share key values?
  • Does the coach challenge you to be better?
  • Is the coach transparent about fees and are you clear about what you get for the price?

Action point: After an initial consultation with the coach, consider the points outlined above.

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Final thoughts

A small business marketing coach can help you to work wonders for your overall marketing strategy and results. By finding an expert in an area of marketing that you need help with, you should be able to get a jumpstart on improving your own skills.

“Expertise” is a key theme here. Not every coach has valid experience and you have to remember that virtually anyone can use that title. Be diligent about seeking coaches with verifiable experience and positive reviews.

In the end, working with a marketing coach should be enjoyable and should lead to clarity and improved strategy. Find someone whom you will enjoy working with, who pushes you to stay accountable and do better, and who could write a book on the marketing strategy that you need.

Brand messaging

How to Improve Your Brand Messaging with StoryBrand

Are your business results where you’d like them to be?

If you’ve followed Donald Miller and StoryBrand at all, you will have heard one of their key points for brands before: people buy because of the words you use, not because you have the prettiest website.

Your brand messaging is what either draws your target audience in, or pushes them away. If there is any confusion or lack of clarity, they’re more likely to look elsewhere.

StoryBrand has been on a mission to help businesses improve their brand messaging and their desired results along with it. Your messaging should be developed as part of a strong brand strategy – here’s what to consider:

What is brand messaging?

Brand messaging is the overall message you convey to your target audience via various tools and channels. For example, you’ll be communicating something via your tagline, your social media, your brand promise, brand story and any other content you produce.

Some important parts of brand messaging are your value proposition and brand positioning. When these are clearly defined, they ensure that your messaging is consistent. For example, brand personality is part of positioning – you want to be consistent with the tone and personality you convey. It would be confusing to switch from a friendly, informative sort of personality to an edgy or more aggressive stance.

What Donald Miller teaches via StoryBrand is that a confused customer will always say no. You might change your content format or advertise via different channels, but your underlying messaging should remain consistent.  Your message is in what you say and how you say it.

The overall goal of brand messaging is that it specifically resonates with the target audience that you intend to engage with. The customer relates to your brand, is inspired, persuaded and ultimately, motivated to buy.

Key takeaway: Your brand messaging is much more than a tagline. Nike has the infamous “Just Do It” line, but this is just one part of an entire brand messaging framework. If you were to assess your own content including website, social media and anywhere else, would you find consistent messaging across each?

Brand messaging

Typical brand message mistakes

What is the biggest mistake companies make with their brand messaging? They’re not clear enough. If you’re audience has to hunt around to figure out what you’re about, you’re not doing it right. As Miller says, people don’t buy the “best” products, they buy the products they can understand the fastest.

The root cause of this lack of clarity is often that the business didn’t define their customer first and put their needs at the front of their messaging. With just a quick look around the internet, you’ll discover brands that have tried to be clever with their messaging, but it falls flat because the target customer doesn’t understand.

As Miller puts it, brand messaging should be able to pass the “grunt test.” If a caveman or woman were to look at your website or marketing material, would they be able to grunt out what you are offering, how it will improve their lives and what they need to do to buy it? Within five seconds, your audience should be able to grunt out an answer to these three things.

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We’ve already hinted at another mistake – confusing brand messaging with a simple tagline. A tagline may be catchy, but every business owner or marketer needs to take a look at the broader picture too. Your audience, value proposition, imagery, tone and product positioning are just a few of the other items that go into your overall marketing strategy. Some taglines may communicate the three things within five seconds – most don’t.

Thirdly (although we could point out more mistakes), another common brand message mistake is failing to excite or motivate the target audience via your messaging. Miller talks about how we are motivated to action when something can help us to survive and thrive. If this key ingredient is missing from your messaging, people may understand what you do, but fail to see why it should matter to them.

Tips for better brand messaging

Where should you get started with better brand messaging? Donald Miller and the StoryBrand Framework provide businesses with some great strategies for improvement, including the seven parts of the framework outlined here.

Here are some tips to go along with that:

#1. Put your target audience first

Who is your target audience? What do they really care about? What sort of tone, language and overall messaging will really resonate with them? 

Sometimes brands are so close to their own products and services that they fail to see their messaging through the eyes of the customer. They might try to be clever with their words in such a way that goes over the customer’s head – sort of like telling “inside” jokes. They might use jargon too heavily or other language that is difficult for the customer to interpret.

That’s the thing – your target audience shouldn’t have to interpret what you’re saying, you should have done that for them. 

Your brand messaging should be customer-centric rather than brand-centric – think “you” rather than “us.” As Miller puts it, the customer is the “hero” of your story – it’s not all about your brand.

Before you develop any sort of messaging, you need to be inside the minds of your target audience. Consider pain points, goals, favorite features and anything else that appeals to them.

Activity: Do you have a clear definition of your target audience? If not, try creating a picture of a customer “avatar,” including their demographics, pain points, goals and interests.

#2. Define your brand positioning

Brand positioning refers to the space that your brand occupies in the minds of your target audience and how it compares to competitors. Your messaging helps to communicate what your positioning is. Brand positioning strategy involves creating associations in the minds of your customers so that they perceive your brand favorably over competitors.

One of the keys with positioning is that something needs to make you different. That’s what helps to distinguish your brand in the eyes of the customer.

As an example of great brand positioning, consider the grocery chain Trader Joe’s. They operate in a highly competitive sector but tend to stand out from other, larger grocery chains because of how they have positioned themselves. They talk about being a “national chain of neighborhood grocery stores” and work to have that friendly neighborhood feel in their stores.

They offer high-quality food and low prices and a fun shopping experience with nautical themes, Hawaiian shirt-wearing team members and free samples. Overall, their entire experience is different to that of competitors.

Activity: How will you distinguish your brand from competitors? What will your brand call to mind for customers?

Brand messaging

#3. Develop a clear value proposition

Your value proposition is essentially the “what’s in it for me?” for your customers. It is customer benefit-driven and states why they should do business with you. Sometimes it takes the form of a single statement, but quite often it might be a series of bullet points or similar.

In fact, Donald Miller says of developing your website homepage:

“On the web, we tend to scan rather than read word-for-word, so consider framing these value points as icons with short descriptions beneath them. That way, people will understand them quickly and easily. Bullet points work, too.”

A common mistake is to list features instead of the actual benefit to the customer. Always keep in mind that if something you’re saying doesn’t answer “what’s in it for me?” then it’s probably not benefit-focused.

Your value proposition carries through to any other content you put out as well – your social media, emails, opt-ins, product descriptions… All of these things should have a consistent position on the benefits that you offer.

In a blog post, Donald Miller talks about a powerful way to convey value. When it comes to purchasing a product or service, people often have an internal problem, an external problem and a philosophical problem. The philosophical problem can be related to a wider issue, for example; “I need a new car but I should also do my bit to save the environment.” Miller uses Tesla as an example:

External problem: I need a car.

Internal problem: I feel cool when people see me driving the latest technology.

Philosophical problem: I should do my part to save the environment.

Activity: Have you got a clear value proposition? What benefits do you offer that will resonate with your target customer? Can you frame value in terms of external, internal and philosophical problems?

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Final thoughts

Your brand messaging should communicate your positioning, voice and value as clearly as possible to a defined target audience. It’s about much more than a tagline – your messaging involves every component of how you communicate and should be consistent.

StoryBrand has created a simple framework to help brands be clearer with their messaging. It’s a common mistake that many confuse customers, causing them to leave without buying.

We use and recommend the StoryBrand framework here at One Week Website. If you want to know more about it and how we apply it, hit us up with your questions!

Storybrand website examples

3 of The Best Storybrand Website Examples We’ve Ever Seen

If you’re a fan of Storybrand and Donald Miller, and let’s face it, you wouldn’t be reading this blog if you weren’t, then you may be thinking of Storybrand’ing your website. 

Wouldn’t it be great if you could see the best Storybrand website examples before you build your own website? Donald Miller’s brandscript and overall Storybrand framework are helping businesses to communicate clearly with their audiences and sell more as a result. 

Chances are you’re here because you’re doing some research for your own marketing strategy. There are some big claims out there about the results the Storybrand framework can deliver, including huge numbers around revenue growth. What it boils down to is, the very least that you get from implementing Storybrand’s techniques is a website that is simple and easy for potential customers to understand.

We’re going to walk you through three examples of great Storybrand websites and explain what makes them so effective:

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Website Example #1: One Week Website

Ok ok. We’re a little biased. This is our very own website. But, what’s the use in writing an article like this if you don’t love your own website? Let’s walk you through the step-by-step process we used to turn our Storybrand brandscript into a homepage that works.

Take a look at our website here at One Week Website as we explain how we used the Storybrand framework section by section. You’ll see how you can then take your own Storybrand brandscript and turn it into a great Storybrand website. 

Storybrand website examples

Our headline is what the character wants

When our customers work with us, they want a website they can be proud of. Now, the reasons they are proud of the website will differ depending on the buyer. For example, one client may want a website that looks the way they want it to look, while another client may really care about clear website copy. 

Both of these reasons why each client loves their website doesn’t matter as it relates to my website copy. If I find the “least common denominator” around why clients buy from us and what they are looking for, then it’s very simple: they want a website they can point to and say out loud “I love that!” All we did was simply state they will love their website.

Now think about your business: you may sell a “widget” or a service and think it’s really important that customers know about some specific detail that explains why your service is so awesome. If you sell cupcakes, then yes, clients need to know they are “made fresh every day.” If you sell financial services, then yes, clients need to know your services are “fee-only” and that you don’t take commissions. These items don’t need to be in your headline, though. It’s too much information.

It may feel “cheap” to write a headline that simply states what your customer wants or even counter-intuitive, but it’s not. Your clients will have problems before and after working with you, so you really need to focus on the simple, transformational experience that your brand provides them and write a short, compelling headline from that point of view.

Here’s a simple exercise to try: Write down a success your customer has after they get done working with you. Can you write eight words that will describe this success? If you can do this, then congrats, you’ve written your website headline.

Our call to action is strong

If you listen to the Building a Storybrand podcast, then you know that a strong call to action button is one of the most important components to a great Storybrand website. Our call to action button isn’t wimpy. There is no doubt on how to get started with us once your budget aligns with our services – we clearly spell out the next action. The button is also purple, which makes it easy to see.

Here’s a simple exercise to try: Look at your homepage button. Is there a big button at the top right of your homepage? Is it clear like “Schedule a Call” or is it wimpy like “Get Started?”

Our tagline states what we do and what our character wants

The sentence under your headline needs to tell your customers what it is that you do. There’s no need to be cute here. Just tell them exactly what you do. Bonus points if you can work in some success buckets like we did – those key areas in which people want to achieve. (We used pride in their website appearance and the ability to earn new customers).

Too many websites make the mistake of over-complicating this part and when you do that, the potential customer often leaves in confusion.

Here’s a simple exercise to try for your brand: Does the second sentence underneath your headline state what you do in a simple way?

Our homepage photo shows our character’s identity transformation

The website photo we used in our header shows two business leaders (my audience character) who are proud of their website. They are showing my potential customers the feeling they can have after working with One Week Website. 

Exercise for your brand: What about your website hero image? Does it show customer success or is it just a picture of a random desk or general stock image?

Website Example #2: World Housing

World Housing is a great example of a non-profit website that has taken their brand story and turned it into a homepage that is clear. Non-profit websites need to choose to either lead with the donor as the character, or the cause as the character. World Housing does a great job leading with the cause as the character:

Storybrand website examples

Their headline and company name is insanely clear

First of all, the headline they use (“A Home For Everyone”), as well as their company name, is so incredibly clear that it only takes a couple of seconds to realize that they build homes for anyone in need and your donation can help to build homes for everyone. 

Their tagline uses failure and success at the same time

We love how the tagline takes the fear people have with donating to a non-profit (where does my money go?) and reverses it by stating “100% of your donation goes to building homes for families living in slums.” At the same time, they specifically give a success in the tagline – the statement that your money will build homes for those families. 

Section two provokes the external problem

As mentioned with our website, it’s very important to dive into your customer’s problem as soon as possible. We’re fans of taking the external and internal problem from your brandscript and placing it in section two of your homepage. 

In this example, the external problem is that over a billion people, or 14% of the world’s population live in slums.

Super duper clear call to action button 

“Donate now” creates more of a sense of urgency than simply saying donate. If you run a non-profit, then consider changing your call to action button to “Donate Now.” Again, it is very specifically telling the audience what their next action should be.

Website Example #3. Real Estate On Purpose

One of the first things you notice about the Real Estate On Purpose website is that they have a clear focus on the customer, not themselves. They could have said something like “we are premier real estate coaches,” but they went with what the character actually wants: “Sell more houses, enjoy more free time, be happy.”

How’s that for hitting success buckets? Most people have that struggle for work-life balance and this headline will reach their deepest desires.

Storybrand website examples

Their tagline highlights exactly what they do (and for how much!)

If you were in doubt about how you might sell more houses and enjoy more free time, the tagline immediately underneath quickly clears that up. “Build your perfect real estate business by completing one simple activity each week. It only costs $20 per week.”

You know what else is great about this? It quickly deals with a common objection that their target audience might have – “I don’t have time.” One simple activity each week sounds doable, and highlighting the affordable price of $20 per week will keep anyone interested who was already worrying about price.

They have just a few clear options

Another positive about this website is that it’s very “clean.” This helps to promote clear messaging because the potential customer doesn’t get confused by having a lot of things going on.

Specifically, the navigation menu has just a few options so that the website visitor doesn’t go “down a rabbithole.” The call to action button is also very clear and specific at the top-right with “start free trial.”

Section two deals with another potential objection 

In the real estate business, there have been a lot of so-called “gurus” selling the latest “sure thing” to those interested in making money from the business. Many of these either charge a lot of money for the privilege of sharing in their knowledge, or they’re not giving out value for money at all.

The first part, “yes, you can build the practice of your dreams” speaks directly to the goals of their target character. The second part says; “No, you don’t need a hot shot Instagram guru to show you how. Our online activities make it simple and fun to build a real estate business that affords you a happy life.” This is directly addressing any potential suspicion or fear that the customer might have about the integrity of what they’re selling. There are no gimmicks or tricks, just simple activities that work.

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Final thoughts

Now it’s your turn to take your Storybrand brandscript and turn it into a website that clearly communicates your value to your target audience.

Need help with clarifying your own message? Our founder, Danny is a Storybrand Certified Guide and can help walk you through the process of developing a clear message for your business.

Hit us up by filling in the contact form here.

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