Recently I was talking to a marketing pro – someone I really admire. We were talking about how different financial services stand out, based on their websites.
I emailed over some links to three websites that seemed to be telling three different stories. “They’re doing something right,” I said.
To my surprise, this consultant shrugged me off. “I looked at those websites,” he replied. “They’re not doing anything new. They’ve got very broad giveaways and they’re saying the same old stuff. They’re probably just marketing hard.”
Really? I could see strong, obvious differences across the three websites. True, all were business consultants.
Website A introduced the consultant who developed a unique approach to help clients differentiate themselves. A fits the Innovator archetype: he has a unique program that is not available anywhere else.
Website B was a down-home, “girl next door” type who focused on authenticity; she’s one of the few women who hadn’t been styled for the photo shoot, unless she found a stylist who’s into jeans and sweaters. She fits the Role Model archetype: her message is, “I’m just like you. If I can do it, you can too.”
Website C was an edgy urbanite who wore Armani suits and promoted himself with a sharply written manifesto. He fits the Celebrity archetype: his message is, “I’ve made it big! I’m out there in a big way and I’ve earned enough for a lavish lifestyle. My success gives me the credentials to advise you.”
Each website promised to help other business owners make money and get more clients. Each had fairly straightforward lead magnets.
But each presented a different story as well as a different target market and value proposition. They weren’t sharing fluffy differences based on color scheme or some arbitrary quality. Each would give you a different experience if you hired them. Few prospects would throw up their hands and say, “They’re all good! I’ll choose the cheapest.”
“Ignoring the story behind the website is like being red-green colorblind.”
My colleague isn’t stupid. In fact, he’s one of the smartest consultants out there. He instinctively understands how to reach his own prospects. He doesn’t get the daily practice of reviewing websites with the question, “How will potential clients read this website? What will they notice in this sales letter? How will they react? How do they connect emotionally with this business owner?”
I was so surprised I did a reality check. I asked another copywriter – a recognizable name – to look them over. She, too, saw differences as clear as red and green on a stoplight.
Many business owners – including experienced coaches – have some form of copy blindness. They are puzzled when their own materials don’t bring results or when their own clients keep working hard without seeing progress. They sometimes push even harder, which makes things worse: it’s like planting seeds in the wrong soil and then going all out with water and fertilizer.
Can you learn to distinguish one marketing archetype from another, just by reading websites?
Absolutely. Here are 3 things you can do starting now to sharpen your message sensitivity so you can develop your own.
(1) Become aware of other websites in your field, especially those that offer similar services. What is the client backstory the website is targeting?
A client backstory has 3 parts. Does the website seem to be addressing all three? Check out my free ebook on Nailing Your Client’s Motivation.
(2) What is the website owner’s story archetype?
Does the website seem to be saying, “I’m just like you. If I did it, you can too.”
Or does the website seem to be saying, “I have the knowledge. If you apply what I teach, you’ll be successful.”
Or is the website offering something unique – available only from this marketer?
(3) Can you summarize the website story in a couple of sentences?
He took two years to get his first business going, then realized most people made the whole thing more complicated than it had to be. He developed training courses that simplified every step of entrepreneurship.
She got tired of hearing from clients whose webmasters disappeared to Tahiti, taking their passwords and esoteric code with them…but not before charging thousands of dollars for websites that didn’t make a dime. She created her own program to transform ordinary business owners into web developers, without forcing them to become techies.
This lawyer’s client was on the verge of being deported, yet he was entitled to remain in the US legally. The lawyer was so passionate he traveled to three states to attend a hearing and get the client released.
These stories lay the foundation for the website’s home page, about page, and services page, even when they’re not repeated on each page. They’re the foundation for creating content for landing pages, blog posts and ebooks too.
If you’d like to work with me on developing your own message, let’s start here with the Strategic Intensive. My clients say they came away with a stronger message and a clearer game plan for creating their content.