Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Going Pro: Website Ju Jitsu

Location, location, location. That used to be the motto of every new business (and the reason I said 2017 is going to be a Why 2017 is going to be a great year for videographers). You want foot traffic, accessibility, and to be surrounded by complementary businesses. Nowadays, though, your most important location is in the virtual world.  Your storefront is your website.

Today is all about maximizing and honing your website.  It’s not about SEO; search engine optimization is about getting people to your website—this is about moving customers who visit your website to hire you.

We’ve already talked about the three main concepts:  sharpening your target consumer population to a fine point (super niching), identifying the unique qualities that make up your competitive edge, and translating those qualities into customer-centric language.  Now we need to apply that to your web page.  Two things to remember: first, your should revise and update your website is something at least every six months.  It’s not a one-time deal.  You need to be continually sharpening your website language, and it will change as your sample videos change and as your company grows.  Second, whatever it is you want to say about your company is probably the ball and chain that will drag you down into the murky, trash-filled depths of the lagoon of bankruptcy and leave your family destitute.  Cuz it’s not about you.  It’s about your customer.

Reverse the lens: we’ve talked about this before. What does your customer want?  That’s the only thing that matters.  Your experience is only as relevant as your customer’s desire to know.  Most people explain way too much.  Be brief and let your samples talk for you.  The equipment you use is meaningless.  As is your schooling.  Everything that appears on your web page has to meet three criteria:

  1. Speaks to your niche.  Wedding clients aren’t interested in your corporate clients, your branding experience, or crowdfunding success.
  2. Highlights how it will fulfill their needs.  The lens has to be pointed at them, not you.
  3. Positions your competitive advantages in terms of how it meets their needs and desires.

This is what marketers mean when they say the customer comes first.

It’s often easier to understand a concept by studying “bad examples” rather than good ones. Let’s look at some examples of video production websites that don’t follow these rules.  All of the companies and websites are real, but since they haven’t asked for my critique I’m going to make them as anonymous as possible.

Example 1

Bad example 1 - D Productions (the names have been changed to protect the guilty):   the home page is a “splash page” with their logo, a quote about overcoming difficulties, and an enter button.  None of that is important to their customers.  Their real homepage has a featured video (good), two sample videos (skimpy), a “Now in Production” statement (who cares unless it’s for a major company like BMW?), “We Specialize In…” such and such videos (good), and “Now Seeking Angel Investors” (are you kidding me?). So little of this page tells the customer that they will fill their needs.  What’s do they shoot?  Who is their client population? It’s almost impossible to tell, except their History page lists a lot of sports games.  So maybe the clients are sports teams and the need is to “capture the excitement of the game.”  But that’s not what is on their page.

Example 2:

Bad example 2 - W Productions:  the Homepage is all text—no images or video.  Their tag line is “Illuminating life through video.”  What need does that fill?  No one wants a video to “illuminate life?”  Unless, maybe, if they specialized in video retrospectives for senior citizens.  But they don’t.  The next block of text declares:

“All THAT YOU NEED CAN BE FOUND HERE.  W Productions has been providing high-quality video production since we opened our doors in 2008.  Every day, we strive to provide you with friendly service and the best experience in Blank City.”  Again, how does this relate to their customer’s needs and concerns?

Example 3:

Okay, you’re saying you’d never create a website as bad as that.  Let’s examine a good website with more minor flaws:  N Productions:  They describe themselves as “A full-service media company located in the heart of Blank City, N Productions is a team of passionate individuals who believe in the power of storytelling to entertain, inspire, and inform. Please feel free to contact us with inquiries, budget requests, or just to connect.” Friendly. Then they describe each of their services with a short blurb for Pre-Production, Production, Post-Production.  This is followed by logos of big name clients they’ve worked for.  The website is elegant, lively, and clean.  But the only thing that separates them from their competition is the list of previous clients.  I know more about who they are from their client list than anything else.  Consider their company description:  “A full service media company….” That’s the only relevant bit of info in the sentence.  Passionate individuals, storytelling, inspiring, entertaining, these adjectives are a dime a dozen, and entirely predictable.  If they said, “N Productions is a scrappy team who tell stories that tickle the imagination and inspire engagement” you’d have a better sense of who they are.  Not because the sentence means something vastly different, but because the description surprises.

You’ll notice in none of the examples have I talked about the quality of their videos.  While that may be the single biggest factor in getting hired, that’s not the focus here.  Nor am I discussing whether their page is "attractive" or not-- I'm focused simply on the content.

Example 4:

Now a good example from the folks at Empire Video.  The name of their company is missing from their Homepage (which is inexplicably weird), but look: we know they service young companies, giving them a “boost,” helping with fund raising and branding.  And since the companies are new, they’ve outlined the process—a completely info-free 3-step description—for what will happen.  And they’ve got 9 samples to view.  We can identify their niche (young businesses), the need (raise money and/or awareness), and their competitive edge is… (simplicity, ease of use).  Is it perfect?  You tell me.

Just joining us?  You can read about the beginning of the "Going Pro" journey here.

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