The design of the homepage on the Internet is one of the biggest challenges in the marketing mix of consultants, trainers and coaches. Only if the website is convincing at first glance will customers take a closer look at the offer. Consultants only get jobs when they can identify and solve their clients’ suffering issues. These should be placed conspicuously on the website.
It depends on the first impression of the consultant website
There is a lot at stake on the home page of your website. If it does not immediately grab the visitor’s attention, the visitor clicks further and misses your offer, even if it should be tailored to them. So, you lose him as a potential customer.
Studies by brain researchers show how real this scenario is. Accordingly, only two to three seconds are available to attract attention from the recipient of a message. Then the perception window closes again. Many consultants, trainers and coaches misjudge the drama of the situation: there is a greeting on the start page, then some more or less irrelevant statements – and the three-second window has closed again. The visitor moves on.
The dramaturgy of visiting the home page
If a start page is well structured, the visit of a potential customer is roughly based on the following dramaturgy:
- The person feels addressed. Your interest is piqued.
- The person reads what the company offers – and decides whether the offer is suitable for them.
- If this is the case, the person would like to know more and is ready to go to other pages.
- The person discovers menu items that continue and begins to look around.
A high standard that you can meet if you first pay attention to three basic rules that apply to the entire website, but are particularly important for the homepage.
Take customer perspective
Change your perspective! When designing the strategy for your website, consider:
- What position is your potential customer in when they access your site?
- What questions, what desires and what kind of suffering move him?
- What does he really want to know from you?
The answers to this determine the basic direction of your website. When you call up the start page, a visitor should be able to decide whether you are the right person for their request. Again, it helps to take the customer’s perspective: they want to find a consultant, trainer or coach who understands their concerns and can solve the problem. He is particularly interested in three questions:
- What does this consultant, trainer or coach do?
- Will he help me with my specific problem?
- Does it also bring me an emotional benefit, for example by satisfying my feeling of security or my desire for an overview?
The last question usually only plays a subliminal role. The challenge is to get to the point quickly on the homepage and to give an initial answer to all three questions.
Photos, graphics and texts should form a unit
Almost every consultant hires an advertising agency today, which creates a fairly passable website. If you want to compete with your colleagues, you shouldn’t be left behind. On the contrary: 100% quality is important here. Above all, this means: Photos, graphics and texts must result in a professional whole. Those who pay too much attention to the texts and receive visitors with text deserts have already lost; the visitor does not feel emotionally addressed and turns to the next provider. But even those who give designers, photographers and other creative people free rein and receive their potential customers with graphic sophistication are wasting opportunities: The visitor remains disoriented,
Texts, photos and graphic design must be coordinated. Only when they work together do they convey positioning and an emotional message: the special feature that distinguishes you from other providers is usually the emotion that you convey with your personality or brand. Here, images and graphics are particularly important, because text cannot usually convey emotion directly. Sentences like “We are particularly dynamic” or “My emotional benefit is an overview” sound clumsy or ridiculous. It is therefore a matter of making the emotion between the lines or indirectly noticeable, for example by writing: “Our customers are dynamic companies.” Or: “Many of my customers want me to have a good overview at first”.
Write in the Customer’s Language
Do not torture your readers with consultant phrases such as “process layout”, “strategic process management” or “analytical process controlling”. This technical jargon, combined with complicated sentence structures, is difficult to digest for potential customers. In addition, the texts are boring because they primarily list consulting services instead of naming the customer’s problem and promising a solution. Write the way your customers speak. Imagine a customer talking to a business colleague about your services. Compare the expression with the language style of your internet text. Read the text out loud and think: at which points in the text would this customer express himself differently?
Even if there are differences between spoken and written text: This exercise still helps you to write your texts much more clearly and closer to the customer. One way is to dictate the text is to have it written by someone else – and then edit it. If you find the result too loose and not serious enough, you have probably achieved your goal: what a consultant finds too casual, in most cases hits the tone of the clientele.
Photo, headline and claim shape the first impression
Above all, the home page must attract attention and convey the core message. For the concept, it helps to start from the “three-thirty principle”: the aim is to make a visitor curious in the first three seconds – and to convey the positioning to them in the following 30 seconds. Accordingly, there is a two-stage staging of the page. In the first three seconds, the photo, graphics, maybe the headline and claim shape the first impression. This is followed by 30 seconds of information: a few lines of text that the visitor can read in half a minute.
No text can create such a strong feeling as an expressive picture. A good photo on the start page does not try to imitate an emotion like on an advertising poster, but rather to convey it through the consultant himself. The photo shows the consultant himself, conveys his personality, maybe even offers a first insight into his working world. This enables an emotional relationship to be established between the consultant and the visitor to the site.
Example: Effect of a Photo on the Homepage
A production consultant is hired to save delivery dates in critical situations – such as when materials management gets out of control, machines stand still and the semi-finished parts pile up in the factory. She has positioned herself as a clever production woman, thought leader and experienced practitioner who works on an equal footing with management and production management.
In this sense, she describes the picture on the start page: It shows the production consultant in the industrial environment, in front of glass and steel, but not with a construction helmet in production – which makes a decisive difference. Her facial expression is friendly but serious. The message is clear: there are serious problems, there is a lot at stake.
Pay Attention to Content Information
If the visitor has been emotionally captured in the first three seconds, he is now interested in hard information. First, tell him in a factual manner, if possible, in one sentence, what you are doing. Then tell the reader who your customers are. So clearly state what you offer for whom!
Example: What do you offer for Whom?
- “We are consultants for … Our customers come from …”
- “I am a trainer for … Our customers are …”
A short and concise presentation is more difficult if you have chosen a broad positioning, for example, are set up across industries. Instead of listing all industries, you can find a common denominator. Or you make a selection.
Example: Find common denominator or make a selection
- “Trainers in industries that are developing particularly dynamically”
- “Trainer with a special focus in the sectors A, B and C”
Pick up customers on issues of suffering
Be sure to write from the customer’s perspective. Do not simply list your achievements, but pick up the reader when he is suffering:
- What are topics that are burning under your customers’ nails?
- Why is he looking for a consultant, trainer or coach?
Pick out a few topics from which the prospect can deduce the entire offer. The text should contain what you offer, for whom you offer it and what is special about it. The challenge is to give an answer and still limit yourself to a few lines. The task is similar to the elevator pitch, those 30 seconds in the elevator in which it has to be explained what it is about.
Example: Addressing issues of suffering to potential customers
- “Three questions that our customers keep asking themselves: …”
- “For example, my customers come to me with the following concerns: …”
Skillfully use references
What does a prospect do after they have accessed your website and the first impression has convinced them? He probably wants to make sure that you actually have the experience and competence to solve his problem. To do this, he looks at your profile and reads the project examples. Above all, he is interested in the opinions of other customers: the references.
Against this background, it is surprising how many consultants neglect this topic, sometimes even not giving references at all. In doing so, they accept that the positive effects of the first impression will fizzle out. Certainly: For some topics or target groups, a consultant may not publicly name customer names. Then there is only the possibility to expressly point out this fact – and to note it in a suitable place, perhaps already on the start page: “References gladly on request”. Ultimately, however, this hint is only an emergency nail. There is a high probability that a prospect will go to the next consultant rather than pick up the phone and ask.
Customer list or customer quotes?
References are among the most effective marketing tools. Experience shows that satisfied customers can be won over for a reference far more often than expected. When developing a reference strategy, the first question is the format. You can draw up a customer list or work with customer quotes:
A customer list is useful if your company has a large number of customers. The list alone speaks for itself and shows that you are really in business.
With customer quotes (testimonials) you make selected customers your advocates. In this way you present your services, special features and strengths in the mirror of the customers. Customer quotes have a special charm because you don’t have to highlight your own performance. Instead of praising yourself, leave the evaluation to the customer. A quote is much more trustworthy and therefore more effective than the same statement from the consultant’s mouth.
Example: customer quote on the website
“With professional project management and great tenacity, Mr. X supported us in improving our processes and procedures in production. We owe it to him that we were able to shorten our lead times by 30 percent within six months.”
References as Message Carriers
References are not just a way of elegantly demonstrating experience and competence. At the same time, they can also be embassies, that means conveying offers and positioning. This applies to both formats:
A customer list can reflect specialization in a particular industry. If, for example, a consultant specializing in mechanical engineering has 20 top companies in the industry as customers, he can list the names of these companies with a logo and contact person – an impressive proof of his positioning.
Customer quotes can be selected to reflect the offer and positioning. However, it is not enough to collect and list customer votes at random. Rather, the individual statements must complement one another and together form a coherent overall picture.
Identify customer suffering
Reflect on the situations in which you advised your customers:
- Which issues were particularly common?
- Was it a real suffering? Distinguish between need, need and suffering to identify the real issues of suffering.
- What problem are you the water seller in the desert for your customers?
- Which of your offers can possibly be tailored to such a subject of suffering?
Address customers’ suffering
To be able to sell your solution to your customers at all, you have to be present at the right moment. As soon as the suffering arises, customers need to know that you exist and that you can solve the problem. This is exactly the core task of marketing. In marketing, therefore, name the suffering issues of your target group and convey your experience on these topics. By highlighting the typical suffering issues of your customers, you are not only proving that you are tackling the issues that are really important for your customers. This also makes your offer much more exciting.
- Formulate the respective topic from the customer’s perspective, certainly in the form of literal quotations.
- Place five to seven suffering issues conspicuously – for example on the home page of your website or under the menu item “My customers’ concerns”, “Customer problems” or “Customer issues”.
- Prove that you not only know these problems, but can also solve them – through references or customer quotes. Or take up the issues of suffering under the menu item “Project examples” again. Select the projects so that they address a subject of suffering, and then describe how you solved the case.
Use the following checklist to determine whether you are addressing your customers’ suffering issues in your marketing.
Obtain references as message carriers
So that the core message and the special features of the offer can actually be found in the customer voices, it has proven useful to design a kind of script:
- First, record the key messages that are important in terms of your positioning.
- Think about which customer could stand for which statement – and approach these customers. Most customers will take part, you just have to ask them.
If a customer is basically ready for a quote, you can offer him either, alternatively
- To formulate a few lines yourself, or
- Send you keywords from which you can create a text suggestion.
The majority of customers choose the second way. It is up to you to control the form and content of the quotes to a certain extent.
Skillfully present customer quotes
Customer quotes can be presented in different ways. The palette ranges from anonymous text quotes to video sequences with the management. The rule applies: the more immediately a customer reaches the prospective customer, the more sustainable the quote will be. The different presentation of customer quotes unfolds different degrees of effectiveness:
- Use the following checklist to check where you can improve your customer quotes.
If you have the content of your website together and have formulated it to the point, you can also use it for other marketing instruments. In the following section of the manual chapter, you can read about the options and how to do this.