Top 10 Tips… Making your Website Work Harder for New Business

13-Sep-2010

Iʼm continually advising agencies on their point of difference, new business strategy and approach to pitching. I also interview hundreds of clients about their relationships with agencies. If you are thinking about re-addressing your website, then you might find the following 10 tips handy:

1. Brand positioning first, then design

Developing your own website is enjoyable. After all, itʼs a creative design project. Itʼs what we do. However, many agencies make the mistake of concentrating on what the site will look like, rather than getting the message right first. You wouldnʼt create a brand identity for a client before understanding who the brand is aimed at, how itʼs placed relative to its competitors, what offer itʼs making and how that offer is distinctive. Define your difference first. Get the words right, then create the appropriate website look and feel. Never the other way around.

2. Your website is a publishing medium

A lot of agency websites are little more than online brochures. These passive, ʻtellingʼ sites are beginning to look old fashioned versus a new generation of proactive, ʻsharingʼ sites
(sumodesign.co.uk/household-design.com). The modern agency website is an evolving publishing medium not a static brochure. It imparts knowledge and insight. It is rich with views
and opinions.

Iʼm amazed by how many agency websites do not express a single point of view. Whatʼs your manifesto? If you were a political party, Iʼd expect you to have a view on the NHS, taxation
and the number of police on the streets. Similarly, if you are a packaging design agency, Iʼd expect you to have a view on environmentally friendly packaging, how you express heritage
and what constitutes appetite appeal. It is no longer enough to simply introduce the agency and show the work. Clients want to know what you think.

3. Reveal your personality

I am always interviewing clients on behalf of agencies. A Marketing Director said to me recently, ʻIn this age of Facebook and celebrity culture, we all want to know more about
people and companies more quickly.ʼ Itʼs another reason why those passive, online brochures are looking so old fashioned. Clients want to know about the people behind the agency. This
goes deeper than the usual people profiles. Think beyond ʻpersonalityʼ. What is the agencyʼs ʻattitudeʼ? What do you love, hate, admire?

4. Make it easy for clients

For new business prospects, your website is all about the fast extraction of useful information. Anything that gets in the way does you a disservice. For instance, 65% of visitors abandon a
website if the pages load too slowly. If the website is your shop window, then make sure your store entrance is wide open and easy to enter. Avoid long-winded introductions on the home
page. Introductions can be good if they say something meaningful and support your
positioning (brandhouse.co.uk), but avoid introductions that merely show off and delay a swift
visit. Demonstrate creativity in your work, rather than attempting to show creativity in ʻbells
and whistlesʼ through the site.

How about an easily printable ʻAgency Summaryʼ? If a client only has 2 minutes, how about
ʻClick here for a 2 minute tourʼ? Making the journey easy for clients is vital.

5. Understand what prospects are looking for

The first question that prospects will ask when visiting your site is ʻWho are you?ʼ – What is
your point of difference and do you have one? What is your tone of voice – formal or
approachable, confident or full of yourself, enthusiastic or just corporate? Is this agency for
me, or not for me? The second question they ask is ʻWhat have you done?ʼ – Have they done
anything in my market? What are the brands that I know? Have they addressed any similar
challenges to mine? Do I like the work? If these questions are answered successfully, they
then become interested in the third question, ʻWhat are you like?ʼ – What are their processes
and working style? What opinions do they hold? What are they really like?

6. Make it more dynamic

In terms of presenting work, there is an increasing shift towards moving image rather than
traditional static beauty shots. Showreels have long been a favourite of ad agencies, but are
now spreading to design (codecomputerlove.com). Video client testimonials are on the
increase. Giving real context to your work can help raise it above the slightly precious way in
which many agencies tend to present their work. How about showing that identity on the side
of a lorry, the pack in a consumerʼs hand, the brand next to its competitors? This is the clientʼs
world, not the design studio.

7. Multi-dimensional new business

Letʼs think about your new business activity as Bombs, Grenades and Single Shots. Bombs
are those broad-scale, profile-raising messages. They are credentials led. Grenades are more
market or category specific. They are insight led, supported by credentials. Finally, Single
Shots are brand specific. They are tailored and precise with next steps attached. The theory
is to launch Bombs, Grenades and Single Shots at the same time. By conventional methods
this is challenging. Thatʼs why many agencies only really launch Bombs with an occasional
Grenade.

Interestingly, online new business activity can encompass a Bomb, Grenade and Single Shot
in one wave. Personalised URLs (includes the name of the prospect in the website address)
allows you to track visits to an online insight presentation with an individual landing page. This
is one to one communication, whilst still achieving volume. Response rates are dramatically
improved. With conventional communications there is no way of telling whether someone is
interested unless they are telephoned. This is expensive, labour intensive and frustrating.
With this type of online activity it is possible to see who is interested. Approaches can then be
tailored accordingly.

8. Donʼt forget social media

Social media is one of the most talked about issues by all clients, across every market.
Arguably, if your website has no element of social media, it sends a message to clients that
you are not in tune with their issues. Facebook is now the most popular site in the US, more
popular even than Google. It simply canʼt be ignored. Therefore, just from a credibility aspect,
social media involvement is becoming a must.
Social media and new business is a big subject. Briefly, though, social media complements
your new business strategy. It doesnʼt replace it. It is not necessarily a direct new business
winner. However, it does help to instil a culture of ideas, views and insights, and that has
always been the lifeblood of high quality new business activity.

9. Engage clients

Chances are that most clients last looked at your website three years ago when you pitched
for their business. Giving clients a reason to visit your website is important. This is for two
main reasons. Firstly, clients put agencies in boxes and are often unaware of your full skill
set. There is nothing more frustrating than being overlooked for a project you are very capable
of delivering. Your website is a means of educating clients about your fuller capabilities.
Secondly, clients sometimes say, ʻMy agency presumably has a lot of knowledge about other
brands and markets, but they donʼt seem to share it with me.ʼ Sharing knowledge is one of the
key purposes of your website for clients.

10. Develop a ʻkeep in touchʼ strategy

It can be a real challenge to keep in touch with all those warm contacts. Itʼs so easy for
someone to slip through the net. You also need reasons to contact that arenʼt just about
calling them to ask if that project is ready yet. Your website can play an important role here.
The online agency newsletter is one classic approach, with links to your website. The key
here is consistency. So many well-intentioned newsletters have faded away after the second
or third. Tying into calendar events (Cog Designʼs ʻCalamitous Tales of Disastrous Eventsʼ for
Valentineʼs Day) could be interesting. Then there is the quarterly e-mail that could be a bitesized
insight or have a more humorous, lighter touch. How about interviewing a client and
publishing that interview on your website? Itʼs a great way of stimulating interest in visiting
your site. The key to all this is planning. It has to be a ʻkeep in touchʼ strategy, not just one-off
ideas.

Jonathan Kirk


CONTACT US