Every business owner wants to be successful.
The desire to be the best I can be and the desire to push through challenges and obstacles to reach my purpose and mission drives me each day to research, learn, discover and think about what I’m doing and more importantly why I’m doing it.
Over the last eight months I’ve become known as the guy who asks “what business are you “really” in?”
What led me to this question that I love to ask?
For nearly six years I owned a web development and design company. That business was a means to an end. I didn’t enjoy it very much but what I learned through it was HUGE!
I can remember early on sitting in sales meetings with a prospect and they would tell me what they want and I would make sure they got it. I was a little different in that I have very strong sales skills and because I’m strong in technology I was able to make suggestions that could help a company improve its efficiencies through technology.
However, on the marketing side I begin to learn quickly that when someone said they wanted a website what they were really saying was they want more traffic, prospects and sales.
Typically the prospect would go out and research their competitors and come back with a list of things they liked and they would say; “This is what I want.”
Many times there was no convincing them that some ideas were just bad ideas. Just because a competitor is doing something it doesn’t mean they should do it.
Inevitably, within a few months or at a minimum six months the client would be upset that very few people are visiting their website and no one is calling or filling out the forms.
The fact is that for them and for many business owners and entrepreneurs they feel the promises of the internet have been a major let down.
How I Solved the Dissatisfaction Problem
The very first thing I did when I started noticing this becoming a trend was I hired a business coach. I will never forget when Dennis asked me “why do you want to hire a coach?”
I just looked him straight in the eyes and told him; “I don’t know what I don’t know. As a result I can figure it out the hard way or I can hire you to help me figure things out before it becomes ‘the hard way.’”
Working with him I changed my entire sales process.
I had to solve the problem of dissatisfaction!
I knew the problem was not the technology, but it was the technology that was constantly being blamed for the problem…
- It’s too complicated.
- There is too much to keep up with.
- I don’t have time.
- It’s too expensive.
There was always an excuse. Some of it was legitimate. But the more I could educate them and show how my recommendations applied to their business the more they felt comfortable.
What became really apparent as I began thinking through each encounter was that the business owner or entrepreneur didn’t “really” know their business.
They know their business in terms of the products and services and they could nominally share what they do. But that’s where they were stuck.
They only know what they know and then it’s repeat.
Every marketing and advertising piece they had was nothing more than a three-fold brochure front and back. They took what they knew and applied it to their website.
That will not work online, not even in 2010. Things were already changing.
So, if you were to contact me in 2010 and ask for a consultation to talk about buying a website I had a simple requirement. I would email you a document with a list of five questions that you would be expected to answer and return to me no later than 24 hours before our meeting. If you didn’t do it, I cancelled the meeting.
Yes, I lost some clients over it; but I also learned how to make a lot more money because of it.
What were the questions?
- What business are you in?
- Who is your audience?
- What do you sell?
- Why do you sell it?
Over the next few years it would evolve and my sales improved because my questions got better. Not only did sales improve, but for the clients who did the work saw their results improved as well.
They also learned how much the initial work benefited all of their marketing both online and offline:
- SEO companies charged less because there was not as much upfront time learning the business to make recommendations that would really help them.
- Copywriters were more efficient and therefore less expensive because the upfront work load to their business was less.
- Social media companies were able to better communicate the business and target the right people.
- Marketing agencies could come up with better ideas and strategies because of the clarity of the business owner or entrepreneur.
Why I Launched Unveil the Web.com
Like I said earlier, I didn’t like web development and design as a business. I started in 2005 as a means to an end. I needed money and I had a skill. Through my community based website that skill was shown and local business owners started approaching me to build their websites.
I could use the money and one thing led to another.
While I don’t like web development as a business for me (it’s a great business model I just don’t enjoy it) I loved working with clients. I loved inspiring them and watching them get excited about their business.
Some for the first time in a very long time.
That’s how Unveil the Web.com came to be.
I want to see that glimmer of hope and excitement for a business owner. I live for those moments where can see I’m making a real difference!
Through my experience in web development and design I become intimate with technology and where it’s headed.
Some days I love reading and learning about patterns and the future of the technology:
- Search Engines
- Social Media
- Artificial Intelligence
Most importantly I love learning how the technology is changing business!
All one has to do is look over ten years and see the massive changes in a very short time. If you think a lot has changed over the last decade; you haven’t seen anything yet!
That’s why making what you don’t know, known… is so important! It’s important, no it’s critical, that you be very clear about your business and your prospects and customers and have the right strategies and goals to grow your business as a result.
Why are Businesses Struggling?
The simple answer is because they get the cart ahead of the horse. They are rushing to the technology. If I had a dollar for every prospect that compared their website to their competitors and said “I want this” I would be filthy rich.
Build a website that has a great message tailored to the audience takes work. It takes:
- Knowing what tangible values your customers experience for having worked with you.
- Knowing the “specific” problems you solve for each tangible value.
- Knowing who you are “specifically” solving the problems for.
- Knowing how your products or services are “a” solution.
- Being able to concisely share “What business you are “really” in.”
I recently watched a video with Seth Godin and he said a very interesting thing; “We are in the golden age of target marketing?”
That got me thinking, if businesses are struggling online now what happens in 3 or 5 years from now when there are more websites online and more competition for your audience? When the technology has flipped again and it can tell exactly how to match up a business with a prospect based on what the business says and what the prospect says.
How will you separate yourself from them and earn the audience that is able, willing and ready to buy from you both now and in the future?
The key is not the technology by itself; it’s a combination of knowing what business you are “really” in and knowing how to apply the technology.
It’s Unveiling the Web of possibilities.
Why I Changed My Website Design
It’s always easier to help someone see their business when you’re detached from it. That’s why I love consulting and coaching so much. I see things my clients simply can’t see because they are in their box and I’m not.
Well, maybe I’m in my own box?
Over the last month I’ve been talking with an NFL player about working with him in his start-up business. While he isn’t ready just yet for me, I kept wondering through the process if I was missing something in my own clarity? Was I communicating something wrong or was my website miscommunicating?
There were moments where he was completely on-board and then he wasn’t. I’m sure his schedule and emotions of finishing up what he has to do leaves him feeling squeezed for time. Coupled with the fact that the NFL draft is a month away and that means more training with his team, mini-camps and then training camp.
However, as I started looking at my own website through this process I began to wonder if my clarity was lacking on the site?
Yes, my blog says it all and I’m crystal clear there… but what about my “Home” page and my “Services “ page?
Not so much, it was very evident to me.
So, I went back to the drawing board.
After some testing with business owners who I have just recently met and some who have worked with me; they agreed that the message I’m sending out is much more me and it talks directly to them.
I changed the name of the “Services” page to “Begin”.
Instead of just listing my products, I have created the means for someone to understand what I actually do and I broke it down into two stages.
Not only that, but I created two videos that cover it in much more detail for each stage.
The first video covers understanding the first part of the process of working with me to develop the business and marketing foundation that answers the question of “what business are you “really” in?” and the second covers how the internet holistically works together.
Both videos are below if you want to see them and they are also on the “Begin” page.
By changing the format from just links to service and product pages, I now have a more comprehensive approach to helping people understand why they ought to consider working with me and what it is I’m actually doing.
I would love to know your thoughts! I’m more than willing and open to your viewpoint and ideas.
Want to know a secret?
Even though you might not like what people have to say they have valuable feedback that can help you gain clarity around your business. In fact, I require that my clients get feedback from their clients and friends.
So, why shouldn’t I do the same?
I’m looking forward to Interacting with your feedback in the comments section below.