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How to Determine Your Site’s Guiding Principle

Everyone has a website of some shape or form these days. We even have meta sites that carry a fair share of information about our companies like LinkedIn & Facebook pages. But quantity doesn’t exactly equal quality. Many sites lack an overall rudder — a guiding principle that shapes what you do and don’t publish, present, display and, ultimately, how you engage with your target market.

As web marketing becomes more and more complex, it is critical to define that guiding principle as it has a massive trickle-down effect into the effort you put forth in your inbound marketing.

So, how do you determine a guiding principle for your site and/or inbound marketing?

  1. Determine who you are (cue Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror”) – What are you good at and how does your voice stand out? The last thing we want is to look and sound like everyone else, leaving your audience with this sort of experience:

    Take some time with your team and write out  the areas where you are different. Focus on them. A key moment in the growth process of any business comes when it stops acting like a franchise based on a company it admires and starts developing its own unique identity.

  2. Determine who you want to work with - In the Hubspot world, this is referred to as “persona development.” Here, you create hypothetical versions of your ideal customers, known as personas. You don’t want to attract customers you don’t actually want to work with, so don’t bother with them. Working with the wrong customers can make you question your business altogether.

    Our friends at Hubspot have put together a great guide on persona development that will help you determine your personas without too much stress. You can check out a more in depth analysis of this process here, but these are the basic questions they recommend asking about your ideal personas:

    • What is their demographic information?
    • What is their job and level of seniority?
    • What does a day in their life look like?
    • What are their pain points?
    • What do they value most? What are their goals?
    • Where do they go for information?
    • What experience are they looking for when shopping for your products and services?
    • What are their most common objections to your product or service?
    • How do I identify this persona?
  3. Craft how you will present your unique business to each unique persona - What path do you want them to take? What is critical for them to learn before they buy? When will they be ready to make a buying decision? A big part of this step is identifying your personas and spending time engineering unique sales funnels and inbound channels for each segment.
  4. Lay out your journey in the simplest possible way - Grab some sticky pads and a Sharpie and write out the ideal path you want customers to take in coming to a buying decision. Think it through! You don’t necessarily want someone to say yes too soon and you don’t want to delay so long that they end up buying elsewhere. You need to create a simple, balanced flow that fits each customer’s unique personality, potential pain points, and points of emphasis.
  5. Think beyond the home page - It used to be that we made the home page the primary emphasis. As a designer, I can still get hung up on that initial experience. It’s important to remember that if you are catering to several different personas, your homepage can’t and won’t accomplish everything. Yes, first impressions are important, but a great site will have deep information flows that lead prospects on a unique journey while addressing key questions.
  6. Create the first version of your customer journey, monitor and repeat - Trust me, your first version will likely suck. Don’t sweat it. You have to get your first version out of the way. It’s a key part of the business maturation process. The important thing is that you’re doing it. Design some calls to action (the cool kids call them CTA’s) and throw them on a landing page. Provide customers with something of value (for free) based on the persona you developed, and then engage with them genuinely and in the least obtrusive way possible over time — a.k.a. lead nourishing.

That’s all for now, but check back soon for more tips on what you can do to help get your online sales channel moving.

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