I’m Speaking Your Language

Many years ago a client finally admitted to me, after 12 months, that they didn’t know what a URL was. I was horrified as I’d been referring to website addresses as URL’s the whole time and she obviously had no idea what I was on about!

Never again. From then on I made a decision to explain things as simply as possible. It’s paid off, one of the most frequent comments I get from clients and prospects alike is my ability to explain things to them in a clear, easy to understand manner. Recently I’ve had a number of people ask me to explain something they were told by another web designer or marketer. When being told what the original person said I’m usually dumbfounded that they would assume what they said would make sense to the average person.

Our role is to walk our clients and prospects through the complex area of web design and online business. It is up to us to make sure what we say is being understood by those we say it to.

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Being Remarkable: A Tale of Two Potato Salads

My husband’s family traditionally celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve. As part of that tradition the Christmas meal is continental frankfurters and potato salad. We’ve taken on that tradition and now host a Christmas Eve gathering for all our friends and family.

Invariably the potato salad making is left to me, and I always make two. One with bacon, sour cream and mustard and one with beetroot, boiled eggs and mayonnaise. They both always turn out perfectly (yup I’m a great cook ;) ) and both are delicious, but each year everyone raves about the beetroot one, and requests the recipe, and nothing is said about the bacon and sour cream version.

This year, while cleaning up I was commenting on this fact to my husband. I wondered if my bacon and sour cream potato salad was no good. He assured me it was fine but the beetroot one was just brilliant. I had one of those zen moments: it’s all about being remarkable!

For those in the know, being remarkable was the phrase, and concept, coined by Seth Godin in his brilliant book Purple Cow. Seth’s premise is in order to succeed in business today you’re either remarkable or invisible.

My beetroot potato salad is remarkable. My bacon and sour cream potato salad is invisible.

If you’ve not read Purple Cow I cannot recommend it highly enough.

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Giving Back

Over the years I’ve had a lot of really, really fantastic people give me advice on building and promoting my web design business.

Today I received an email from someone starting out and asking me for advice. I was flattered and more than happy to give back.

I thought I’d sumarise some of my points for others out there looking at building a web design business. In no particular order:

Find a niche. There are so many web design companies out there you have to really think about what makes you different. Do you want to specialise on one particular area? Are you known for something or is there something you could be known for? A great book to read is Purple Cow by Seth Godin. Seth talks about transforming your business by being remarkable.

Get your website online. Now! This is one mistake I made and really wish I hadn’t. Learn from me. ;)

Learn about markets as conversations and having a human voice. Another must read: The Cluetrain Manifesto. You can buy it or read it online.

Join some relevant forums and start conversations and make connections. I spend most of my time at Cre8asite Forums under the nic sanity. Others to consider:

Forums are a way of getting help and advice, sharing help and advice, showing off your skills and of course – networking.

Write articles.

Start a blog.

Get links to your website!

Collect and post testimonials on your website.

Add case studies or a portfolio to your website. If you haven’t done a lot of sites yet look around and see if you can offer your services to a charity or something similar.

This list is by no means exhaustive but I hope it offers some advice for those just starting out. Trust me, we’ve all been there.

Good luck!

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Under New Management

Seth writes an great post about Under New Management notices:

If I liked your store before, now I’m on notice to be careful–it might not be as good.

If I didn’t like your store before, why on earth am I paying attention to your little sign and why should I go out of my way to take another chance?

If you aren’t reading his blog you should be.

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How Not to Treat Online Enquiries

This one is almost to dreadful to be true. After having the decency to email a company to let them know you won’t be going with their service you’re insulted by said company. Yup this happened to a couple in New Zealand:

They asked for a simple quote on the cost of a wedding marquee – but lovebirds Steve Hausman and Paula Brosnahan got a vicious email from the hire company describing their planned nuptials as “cheap, nasty and tacky”.

Of course the email has spread like wildfire and the company, The Great Marquee Company, has had to post a statement on their website. The owner Klaus Jorgensen has also sacked the person who wrote the email – his wife!

Really, you’d think people would know better. I suspect The Great Marquee Company is going to need some online reputation management real soon. ;)

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