I must admit to really enjoying what I do. I think it’s the combination of melding technology with selling, all the while helping our own clients achieve more.

Most of the technology required is quite detailed – think Google Analytics tagging codes, optimised Google AdWords ad groups and multiple search engine rankings.

For the first-time website owner all this can look like one confusing mass of Google technospeak. This means that when we kick off with someone new we avoid all this stuff like the plague and start them on something quite manageable – them completing a short survey. Yep, a dreaded survey! Most visibly shudder when I ask them to fill it in, but then go on to thank me once they have answered the questions it poses. These are questions not about technology but about their prospects and how they sell to them.

Once their response has arrived at our offices I hand parts of it over to Tom for him to tackle the detailed online marketing stuff. Bits like pulling apart their site’s analytics, paid advertising and search rankings. All the necessary side of assessing how well they are performing online when compared with their competitors. Once Tom’s results are in, we schedule to meet up so I can present to them what we have found and pose them a small selection of additional questions that they would never have answered if they were included in any prior survey.

These are the answers that really matter. There’s nothing deeply personal I’m digging to uncover here, no severe psychoanalysis underway – it’s just like I’m holding up a mirror and asking them to show me what I would see when first a prospect and then their best salesperson stared into it.

Mirror, mirror on the wall – show me who my customers are

First, we talk about the reflections of their customers. Are they all the same type of people or are there easily recognisable different groups? In most cases, the former is presented when the latter better reflects reality. Very few businesses have the luxury of serving just one type of customer segment.

So for these customer groups I ask about ages, genders, and even the states of mind when buying (stressed, excited) – everything and anything I can find out about them so I can form a mental picture of the types of people who visit their pages. Then I look at their current website to see if this also acts like a mirror to this audience. For instance, does it show any images or words that “reflect” the people in these segments?

Frequently, I reference the website that the Auckland team Select Cleaning use to present their business. (You can find the site here www.selectcleaningauckland.com.) The image at the top and the intro text were all crafted with some great help by the site’s owners, Graeme and Sylvia Norton.

Currently, the image at the top is of a stressed woman wanting to pass the responsibility of cleaning her home onto someone else. When we began working with Graeme and Sylvia this image was a picture of a happy, smiling franchise owner in front of his van. We ran our tests and a stressed-looking woman was clearly the winner. All this while their competitors continue to show pictures of happy franchise people and even vacuum cleaners. (Personally I’ve never seen a household appliance browse the web let alone buy home services.)

Anyway, your business may have multiple groups you sell to so one picture may be too hard to achieve. But you can still place groups of images that reflect back the main customer profiles you sell to, which then take them to the parts of your site that are just for them.

Mirror mirror on the wall – show me my best salesperson please

OK, so next up we need to bring their best salesperson into the room and place my Permission Mirror in front of them so they can tell their story. Questions I pose to them include:

  • How long has the business been in operation?
  • What is their core point of difference?
  • Why should customers choose them?
  • Who have they worked with in the past?

Then I look at their website again and see how the content reflects this discussion. A business that has been in operation for 32 years and doesn’t show any reference to this on their home page is missing the mark. Likewise, one that works with well known brands like Rolls Royce and Gucci but doesn’t talk about this anywhere on their home page – well, another opportunity goes begging.

Then the task is to fix the gaps that each of these two “website reflections” reveal. In the process, we are gradually optimising the client’s website for greater conversions. The time this takes depends on a number of factors. One of the main ones is the clarity the client can offer to the visions of their customers and the most effective sales process they follow. By knowing the attributes of these in very precise details then they are able to see what is missing on their website. However, fuzzy knowledge in these two areas just translates into fuzzy results later on.