I remember a friend of mine once complaining about the billboards all over the place for personal injury attorneys. “They’re so tacky, those ambulance chasers, and their billboards are such eyesores. Why do they waste their money on such in-your-face, uninteresting, cliché ads?”
About six months after that conversation, she was in a pretty serious motorcycle accident caused by a driver who ran a red light.
She’d never hired a lawyer before. Never even met with one for a free consultation. She later told me how mental images of all those billboards came flooding into her head during recovery. And suddenly they had a whole new meaning. Suddenly, they had relevance.
My friend ended up retaining the services of one of the lawyers she’d been so accustomed to seeing looming over her as she rode down the roads of Central Florida.
Be Careful What You Ask For
I tell this story to all our clients when unveiling their new website or website redesign. Then I warn them about what will happen when they start asking other people for their opinions of the website.
Ask, and you’ll get them. If you ask 10 friends and family members what they think, you’ll probably get about eight different opinions, some completely contradicting others. What exactly are you going to do with that?
Beyond that, some people—and probably some who are very close to you—won’t like the new site.
That’s right; we’re admitting right here, in public, for all our potential clients to see, that some people aren’t going to appreciate what we do for you. They’ll tell you “it missed the mark” or “it doesn’t really say enough” or something similar. We’ve been building websites since 2007, so we have a decent handle on how this goes.
It’s kind of devastating to hear it too, especially from someone close to you. You’ve invested your money and time, and you have high hopes for what you’ll accomplish with your new site.
It’s no shortcoming on our part, I promise. And I also promise the site isn’t what random people make it out to be.
Compelling Messages Speak to a Target Audience
When you work with us, you’ll find we have a fairly rigorous, well-honed brand development process for getting to the core of your unique selling proposition, your target market and its buyer persona, and your brand voice and personality. That’s all really important to creating a compelling website (and any other branding or marketing collateral) that successfully attracts and converts the right people.
Our websites are carefully crafted to speak specifically to your target market in ways that appeal to them. The other side of that coin is that our websites aren’t too worried about winning over people who aren’t going to hire or buy from you.
One of the most important lessons from Branding 101 is that no brand can be everything to everybody. The strongest ones know exactly who their audience is and talks to them directly. It’s not about excluding people, it’s about reaching the right ones with clarity and focus. If and when people who don’t fit that mold suddenly find themselves needing you, they’ll see your website in a whole new light.
The Moral of the Story
This should all be sounding familiar. Hopefully, you haven’t forgotten my friend from the beginning. She hated those billboards until she actually needed them.
Just because your sister-in-law paints still life fruit baskets, or your son is a computer engineering major, or your best friend has been selling on Ebay for 10 years, that doesn’t mean they’ll “get” your site or that they’re qualified to offer a relevant opinion.
We’re not saying you can’t ask people what they think. And we’re certainly not trying to isolate ourselves from criticism or imply everything we do is the height of perfection. We make changes based on client feedback all the time, and we continue to gain new buyer persona insights and tweak sites accordingly for clients who use our content marketing services.
What we are saying is that your website messages won’t resonate strongly with people who aren’t part of your target market. It doesn’t deliberately trigger their pain points or offer solutions they want. If you’re looking for valid opinions about how effective your website is, you have to get them from the people it’s designed to affect. For example, your customers are the perfect source.
So, know ahead, before you start asking everyone in your life what they think of your new website, you’re going to get a lot of miscellaneous opinions from a lot of miscellaneous perspectives. Ultimately, it’s your target audience that matters when it comes to how well your website delivers new leads and sales. Let your results be the most trusted critic.