Once upon a time, two new accounting firm websites were created. The one followed the ‘tried-and-tested’ (read embarrassingly outdated) model, while the other one ditched the mould.
Fast forward one year. The first website is dead. The peeps who are attracted to the site and who contact the accountant for help are mostly the not-so-ideal type of clients. The other website has a steady flow of leads contacting the accountant for support. But this time, the peeps doing the contacting are already fans – or at least excitedly intrigued. They’re people who value the accountant’s expertise and who are willing to pay fairly for their advice.
So, what’s the difference between these two websites?
If you’ve been following my blogs, you’ll know that for the past couple of weeks I’ve written about what you should do after you’ve chosen a niche. In the first blog, we talked about finding out exactly what your ideal clients want and need. In last week’s blog, we talked about how to develop your services or packaging your existing services around what they need. Today we’re talking about making sure that your website (and social profiles) reflect who you work with and what you help them with (the right way!). And finally, next week, we’ll talk about how to attract your ideal clients by developing your marketing content around the problems they’re facing.
What we’ve discussed in the previous two blogs will influence how you approach your website and social media profiles, so if you haven’t read those blogs yet, make sure you do so first. (Click on the links above to read the blogs that you’ve missed.)
So, now that you know that there’s a good way and a bad way to develop your website content, let’s delve into what is wrong with the first website (most accounting sites online) and why the other website is so successful (what you should do instead). Although I’m going to focus primarily on websites for the rest of this blog, the same applies to your social profiles.
There are two components to developing a great website that wins over your niche:
- First, your website should contain the right information
- And secondly, you should structure the content the right way
The Content Your Website Should Contain: Who You Work with and What You Help Them With
Now that you know what your niche wants and how you can help them – which problems you’re solving – the next step is to develop your website content and design in a way that it reflects the right message to your niche audience.
So, what should it say? Here are the three key elements:
- Your personality and values
- Who you work with
- What you do for them
1. Your Personality and Values
If you love to have fun, then you’d want to attract someone who can crack a joke with you and not take themselves too seriously. If you’re aiming to work with go-getters who are ready to take on the world, then your language should reflect that. If caring for the environment is important to you, then you don’t want to attract people who live extravagant and wasteful. If you have more of a zen thing going, then the last clients you’d want to attract are people that are abrasive and arrogant and who walk over others to get to the top.
Reflecting your personality and values on your website will help you to attract the right type of client. There are two components to this:
- The words you use: Just listing your values under a heading or tab labelled ‘our values’ aren’t good enough. It should come through in everything you say. For instance, if you love to have fun, you should also have fun with your words and use humour throughout the website.
- The images you use: Using the right photos is one of the most powerful ways to get your values and personality across. But if you use the wrong images, you can seriously hurt your brand. For instance, let’s use the nature-warrior example again. The images you use should be nature-heavy, and if you can show pictures of where you were involved in planting trees or cleaning oil-slicked penguins, there would be no doubt about what you stand for. Additionally, you’d want to take the team photos for your about page in nature, like in a forest, and you’d want to stay away from images depicting fake, bling-laden peeps posing in front of a jet, for instance.
2. Who You Work With
You need to invite your people in. If you work with startups, you want to mention that front and centre. If you work with tech-savvy peeps, make sure that’s clear.
Again, you should mention these in your copy and make sure that the message comes across through the images that you use:
- The words you use: You can mention this under a tab or a heading that says ‘who we work with’ but it should also be used throughout the website. And you shouldn’t just say ‘this is who we work with’. Instead, you should talk about the struggles and goals specifically related to those people. For instance, if you work with mompreneurs, you could say something like ‘building your business during naptime’.
- The images you use: Staying with the mompreneur example, you could use images with a mom working on her laptop while a toddler is playing in the background. If you work with tradespeople, you could choose pictures of them in action – a toolbox in hand or on-site wearing a hard hat.
3. What You Do for Them
This is where the services you developed in the second blog comes in.
Remember, people buy the end destination, not the vehicle. You should talk about the benefits, not the features. Always think, what’s in it for them? What is the position they’ll be in if they work with you? What is the problem you could solve for them?
Again, what you do for them is not just something you mention under a specific tab or heading. This message should come across throughout your copy.
For instance, let’s say you help mompreneurs build a business from home. Here are a few examples of phrases you could use in your copy:
- Building your business, one naptime at a time
- Keeping your books up-to-date shouldn’t be a time suck
- We help mompreneurs build a profitable side gig from home while still having time to spend the afternoon on the playground
How to Structure Your Website: It’s About Them, Not You
What’s the difference between a bad website and a good website? It’s simple. The former is one where the language and content are structured around you. The latter is where it’s structured around them.
So far in this blog, we talked a lot about the content – the words and images you should use – so now let’s talk about how to structure it on your website.
Your home page is like a BnB’s foyer. If the entrance is dark, cold, and cluttered, you would immediately wonder whether your visit is going to be fun/relaxing/peaceful/exciting.
Your home page should be welcoming. The layout should be simple, with no unnecessary clutter. One message should come across: They are home; here, their questions will be answered, and their (biz) needs are going to be taken care of.
Let’s look at a few typical characteristics of a bad and a good website.
How a bad (traditional) homepage is structured:
- The hero image (first big image on the page) is something generic, like a skyscraper.
- The heading on top of the image is also something generic like: “Welcome to ABC Inc” – a complete waste of the most important space on your website.
- Next, they’ll list their services. Remember what I said about services before: They don’t buy the vehicle, they buy the end destination.
- Next, they’ll list things like ‘Who we are’, ‘What we do’, ‘Why we do’… Yes, they want to know who you are and whether you’re the real deal – but not like this. Remember, it’s about them, not you. When you structure your homepage like this, you signal to them that you’re more important than them. Not a great way to introduce yourself, right?
- And then there would be random buttons telling visitors to get in touch or to schedule a discovery call. So far, the accountant has given them nothing to show that they understand their struggles and that they can help them. People don’t have time to waste, so do you think someone would actually feel compelled to set up a meeting?
How a good (niche-wooing) homepage is structured:
- The hero image is super-relevant to your niche, like the mompreneur image described above.
- The heading on top of the hero image is super-related to the struggle or goal of your niche, like ‘Building your biz, one naptime at a time’.
- A way to capture a lead (sign up for your emails) front and centre, either on the hero image or just below it: for instance, a cool checklist or guide that they can download to solve one of their problems, like ‘A step-by-step guide to building a side gig for mompreneurs’ (more about this in next week’s blog).
- Super-specific copy delving into their struggles, showing them that you understand, and then sketching the picture of how their future could be. These can be broken into different sections or blocks with nice icons and images – something that’s visually appealing. This is the who, what, why, and how, but worded in a way that they are the hero of the story.
- There should also be a section about you but framed in a way that it’s about them and how you can help them. In other words, not so much about what makes you great, but rather how what you know can help them to achieve their goals.
- Links to other valuable stuff, like your freebies, your blog, a podcast, etc – all very closely related to the main struggle or problem you want to solve for them. As I said above, people aren’t just going to jump on a call for every accountant’s website they happen to land on, especially if you’ve given them nothing so far to solve a problem or show how you can help.
Develop a Client Persona to Guide You
Writing your website copy is not an easy feat. I’ve been doing this for three years, and I still learn something new every time I tackle a new project. What I’ve learned, though, is one of the best ways to make sure you write your website content in a way that wins over the right peeps is to put a name and a face to your niche audience. In other words: Creating a client or marketing persona.
Your persona would lead you in how to write your website copy, your blogs, your social media shares – basically any brand and marketing content you create. You’ll better understand the tone you should use, what you should talk about, and which examples to use to explain difficult concepts in a way that they can relate to.
Here are some of the questions you need to ask yourself when putting together a marketing persona:
- How old are they?
- What is their level of education?
- What industry do they operate in?
- What skills do they have and need to perform their duties?
- What are their values?
- What are their business challenges?
- What do they want to achieve?
I’ve created a Marketing Persona Template for you that you can use to create your own persona. In this template, I take you through a bunch of questions you should ask, and then you’ll summarise all of that into one neat persona that you can refer to every time you write something for your firm.
Watch out for next week’s blog where we’ll talk about how to develop marketing material that revolves around your niche – their struggles and goals – and how to use that to lead them towards your services.
COURSE: Tailor-Made Niche
Your step-by-step guide to honing in on your niche – without a sweat
In this course, you’ll…
- Uncover your strengths and what makes you different from your competitors
- Learn how to choose the right niche that is aligned with your strengths and values
- Dig deeper into understanding the challenges and goals of your target clients so that you can serve them better
Ready to attract the right clients?