We all know it’s true…professional websites are a business necessity, not a luxury. You are nothing without one. It sounds a little dramatic, but it’s a reality. And websites are a dime a dozen. It takes just a few minutes to throw up your own site on a number of free platforms currently available to entrepreneurs. But one of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs and small business owners make is trying to do it themselves.
When branded and built strategically, your website is your 24/7 salesperson!
Investing in a professional, hard working, results-driven salesperson specifically trained in your industry will return amazing results. This is especially true for coaches and consultants who must package up and sell themselves.
So, based on years of personal experience branding coaches and building their websites, here is list of the 10 most important characteristics of successful coaching websites…that win clients :). I’m super pumped about this post because I created a sick (according to my 12 year old daughter) infographic to go along with it! Woot!
1. Premium Branded Experience
Begin with branding! Good branding evokes emotion and brings to life the person, product or service it represents. When a prospective client lands on your site, you have 5 seconds to make a good impression. During those 5 seconds, they should feel something…a human connection, energy, peace, excitement, calmness…whatever you and your brand stand for. People should also be able to get a sense for how valuable your coaching services are through pre-framing, preeminence and positioning (fascinating, fancy branding words…because I’m a geek). Grounding your website in branding strategy first helps to guarantee its ability to attract new clients. It’s almost like walking into a hotel lobby. The tone, colors, music and even smell set you up for what the rooms will be like and how much you should expect to pay. Is landing on your website like walking into the lobby of the Four Seasons or Motel 6 (LOL…or maybe *tear*).
2. Professional “Habitat” Photography
I’ve said this before, but the standard headshot is a thing of the past. How can we establish a high-value human connection (as described above) with the snapshot my child took of me on my phone in our backyard? Amateur shots may work for senior pictures, but images that create preeminence (inherent prestige, superiority and dominance within a category or industry) require a professional photographer and some investment. By taking pictures within your natural “habitat”, you’re inventing people into where you work or play, further building human connection through visuals. Whether it’s at your desk in your home office, behind your laptop at your favorite coffee shop or with your latest book on a park bench, creative surroundings beat the standard grey headshot background hands down. If you’re in the Denver area and need an amazing photographer, I highly recommend and am in love with this guy!
3. Clear Call-to-Action
What is the one (or maybe two) thing you want people to do after landing on your website? It’s a known fact that we do what we are told (at least for the most part). It’s pretty simple. Having a straightforward call-to-action is critical to getting conversions…transitioning site visitors to paying clients. Don’t assign work or in some cases brain damage by making visitors connect the dots, read your mind and figure out what actions you want them to take. Eliminate the guessing game and give easy to follow instructions with highly visible buttons. A quick note: Giving too many directions has the opposite effect so pick one. It works just like telling my son what to do. If I simply ask him to get his shoes on, my changes of getting that accomplished is much greater than if I ask him to put on his shoes, brush his teeth then eat breakfast. He ends up getting sidetracked by a toy laying on the floor and nothing gets done. Seriously.
4. Email List Builder
Your email list is one of your most valuable assets! It’s pure gold (literally $) if you learn how to work it right. But you can’t milk what you don’t have. Making email gathering a primary part of your website is important. Create a lead magnet such as a free download in the form of an ebook, checklist, worksheet or video that is valuable to your target market…something they simply can’t refuse! You are doing two things at the same time: building your expertise and building your email list. You will forever have captive, warm (even hot) leads to engage, share knowledge with and most importantly, to sell to!
5. Emotive Testimonials
Because what you do it all about the relationship you’ve built with your clients, it’s smart to feature their testimonials on a dedicated page on your website, and even highlight one of them on your homepage. Here’s a big tip: don’t just ask current and past clients to write a review or testimonial for you. Ask them to prevent that they are writing a quick note to a friend who is considering using your services and have them describe how you make them feel. You will get extremely powerful testimonials this way. Guaranteed!
6. Own-able & Compelling Copy
When I first sit down with a coach to work through branding strategy before we even talk about the website, I ask them what their title is. 90% of them say “Life Coach”. Then I say, “Yeah, you and everyone else!” There’s nothing wrong with being a life coach, but how can we talk about it a new and creative way that sets you apart from all of the other life coaches out there? The example I have in the website graphic below takes the common career coaching and positions it in terms of matchmaking. This “theme” or angle of sorts is sprinkled throughout the entire site through the words used to describe the services offered. Many of the thought processes, activities and tools that coaches use are similar, but can you narrow your focus and talk about what you do uniquely?
7. Speaks Directly to the Target
We all want to help everyone. I especially find this to be true when working with women. We don’t want to exclude anyone because we are givers by nature and truly feel we can be of benefit to just about anyone we come in contact with. This is true. We also don’t want to leave money on the table and we’re worried that if we focus on a specific type of person, we might limit our ability to get clients. Nothing can be farther from the truth. In fact, you will do better, dominate your category and make more money if you zoom in on a particular niche. I could go on and on about this, but that’s for another blog post. 🙂 Once you’ve carved out the profile of your perfect client, you must speak directly to them on your website. Make sure you talk about who your services are for (specifically), what problem you will solve (specifically), how it will work for them (specifically), and what next steps they should take (you got it…specifically). This one step will make a world of difference in your business!
8. Expertise Building Blog
This is fairly self-explanatory, but I still run across people who ask me if having a blog is worth it. I always say yes! This is the way in which potential customers learn about your focus and how incredibly knowledgeable you are in your field. Writing blog posts that add value to your target audience will build trust. Once people know about you, then start to trust you, they will eventually hire you! Blogs also help you build stronger relationships with current clients, growing their loyalty and cultivating them into life-long clients. The effective use of social media does this as well…our next characteristic.
9. Engages Socially
Good websites always engage visitors socially. This goes beyond having a link that takes them back to your Facebook page. It pulls social engagement right into the website itself. This can be done through plugins or apps that allow visitors to interact with your posts, pins and pics without leaving the site. So this doesn’t become overwhelming for you to manage or for your visitors to navigate, choose 1 or 2 social media platforms to specialize in. Despite what you may have heard, you don’t have to do it all. And you can’t do it all well. So you might as well pick your favorite(s) and be amazing at them!
10. Worth the Investment
Lastly, there’s no point if there’s no ROI. Your site must be worth it all…not just the money you put into it, but also the investment of time, energy and brain cells needed to strategically map out your brand and ensure that your site is a reflection of you and all that you have to offer. This past year, I made a rule for myself that I no longer build websites for people. Nope. No more. Because just a site (without branding strategy) is pretty much pointless. It looks pretty and provides basic information, but it doesn’t effectively produce results. It’s like the salesperson we talked about earlier that simply passes out your business card to prospects. A good website has to be able to create connections, build relationships and convert customers. Again, you can attempt to create a website on your own for free. You can also find web developers who charge anywhere from $300-$600 to do a basic 5-page WordPress website. If there is solid branding and strategy involved, expect to pay a minimum of $1,000 for your 24/7 salesperson. Consider this…If your salesperson is able to get you at least 2 new clients then it has already paid for itself! Pretty sweet right?
I hope these strategies and tips helped you as you begin to think about where you want to take your coaching business over the next couple months and into next year. As always, send me an email if you have questions OR if you are in need of a premium
website branded experience. (wink)P.S. If you’re looking for more branding tips and resources specifically designed to grown your coaching or consulting business, sign up here and I’ll send some your way!
P.S.S Only if your curious…here’s a link to some of my work (double wink)