Your website should outshine others. Lucian Camp of Lucian Camp Consulting explains why a strikingly distinctive approach will turn on far more people than it turns off.
(There’s a slim chance my bluntness may backfire. According to my online research this morning, about one in 20 advice firms have websites that aren’t completely boring, so if yours in one of this small minority, then please accept my apologies.)
I suppose there is a reasonably viable answer to my question. You could argue that it isn’t intended to be interesting, or engaging, or differentiating, or enjoyable. It’s just supposed to provide a very basic who-we-are-and-what-we-do story for people who have heard of us in some other context, and would now like to spend five minutes finding out a bit more.
Against that objective, I’d have to accept that most sites succeed. But, honestly, what a depressingly limited and inadequate objective! The fact is, an interesting website doesn’t cost any more than a boring one, and a differentiating one isn’t any harder to produce (or at least, not much harder) than one that makes you look exactly the same as everyone else. A lot of those visitors to your site may be looking at one or more of your rivals too – wouldn’t it be a good idea to try to outshine them?
Well, yes, I hear you say, but how? What kind of outshining is going to work for us?
My answer to this is simple: exactly the same as the kind that works for you in your day-to-day client service. Your website should be a reflection of your real business, real personality and real values at their best, not some artificial construct like the buildings on a Western film set, only designed to look good from the right camera angle.
Whatever you and your firm take the most pride in – whether it’s technical expertise, or thought-provoking opinions, or quality of service, or depth of client relationships, or empathy for those running small businesses, or even your unshakeable lifelong enthusiasm for Falkirk Football Club - let these special qualities permeate your website, so that visitors can’t fail to recognise them.
You may worry about an element of risk in adopting this kind of distinctive approach. What if a visitor – a potential client, say – doesn’t agree with your opinions, or happens to detest Falkirk Football Club? As the saying goes, if you stick your head above the parapet, there’s a danger it’ll get chopped off.
I don’t share this anxiety. For one thing, a strikingly distinctive approach will turn on far more people than it turns off – even people who care nothing for football can enjoy your anecdotes on the subject. And far more importantly, pretty much any distinctive stance you might adopt will click with enough people to grow your business hundreds of times over. The large majority of advice firms have market shares of tiny fractions of one per cent. If your stance actively turns on just one person in a hundred, you’ll be buried in new clients.
Hunting around for a good example of this ‘being yourself’ strategy, I quickly come up with an excellent one. I need to look no further than Nucleus itself, and the enthusiasm of the boss, Mr Ferguson, for dodgy 80s and 90s post-punk music – reflected, from time to time, in excursions to seedy basement clubs to take in performances of this sort of thing.
I suppose there may be a few advisers – fans of Barry Manilow, say, or Cliff Richard – who are actively put off by this, and lean towards other platforms more suited to their tastes. But there are far more who actually share David’s strange passion, or, if not going quite that far, are at least willing to accept it in a spirit of amiable mystification.
On balance, I’m quite sure that Nucleus’s occasional habit of dragging groups of advisers off to Camden Town clubs does a great deal more good than harm – an excellent, if somewhat eccentric, example of how it really does help to be different.