January 8/15, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 15
By Jim Augustus Armstrong
“You’ve got to remember that every prospect searching online for a flooring store has an unspoken question on her mind: ‘Why should I choose you instead of your competitors?’” I told Brad, a dealer from Connecticut for whom I was doing an online marketing assessment.
“Wow, I’d never thought of it that way,” he replied.
“Most dealers haven’t,” I said. “So, if you’re the one in your market who does the best job providing a powerful answer to this question, you’ll gain an enormous competitive advantage over every other dealer. Let’s walk a mile in Cathy Consumer’s shoes and see how well you and your competitors answer this question.”
I then Googled Brad’s city and the word “flooring” and pulled up the top five flooring sites appearing in the organic search, including Brad’s. “Assume Cathy knows nothing about flooring,” I said. “She doesn’t know which dealer to choose, so she’s looking for an answer to her unspoken question. Put yourself in her shoes as we look at your and your competitors’ websites.”
The first site had the name of the dealer at the top, links to products along with photos and contact information. I call this a “name, rank and serial number” site. The next several sites followed the exact same formula. Yes, there were cosmetic differences among them—different colors, slightly different layout, some looked a little more professional than others, and one had some teaser prices. But they were all essentially saying the same thing: Here’s our business name, here’s what we sell, here’s how to find us. I pointed all this out to Brad.
I then pulled up his site, which also followed the name, rank and serial number formula.
“Brad, based solely on the strength of these sites, why should Cathy Consumer choose your store vs. any of the others we’ve looked at?”
He was silent for a moment, thinking. “No reason at all.”
“That’s right,” I said. “They all have good color schemes, smooth layout and look like they were professionally designed. But none of them do a good job answering the unspoken question.”
This was a real eye-opener for Brad. When you’re designing your website—or creating any other marketing—it’s easy to focus on colors, products, logos, etc., but never give a compelling reason for Cathy Consumer to choose your business over your competition. I suggest you walk a mile in your prospect’s shoes and follow the same exercise I took Brad through. Pull up your site and several of your competitors’ sites and ask: Based on the strength of my website alone, why should Cathy Consumer choose me instead of my competitors? If your site doesn’t provide an overwhelming, powerful, compelling answer to this, you’re depending on the luck of the draw that Cathy Consumer will visit you.
There are many ways to answer the unspoken question on your website. One simple, proven strategy to accomplish this is by offering information your prospects are desperately seeking.
If you’d like me to evaluate your site, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your business name, city and state.