This post is one from my old blog before I redesigned my website, it however is one of my favorite posts because it was when I really discovered who I was writing to.
I had struggled for some time to know hat to write. This came from two problems. First, I didn’t know what to write. Now don’t get me wrong, I have a whole Evernote list of article ideas and things to write about. There was no shortage of material, but the lack of something to write was very real and this came from my second problem, which is not knowing who I was writing to. Think about writing a letter or a journal, or something more modern like an email. Probably the first thing that you do before even beginning your first paragraph is decide who it is for. Sometimes we even know this before thinking of what to write. If someone emails us and we reply, we might have no idea what to say back but we know who we are writing to. This almost always affects what we say. You wouldn’t write the same email to your friend as you would to your mum, they would be completely different and as person as the person you are writing to. Even if you are writing a journal or diary you have a rough idea of who you are writing to. Maybe you’re writing something for your children or grandchildren to read in the future. Maybe you are simply writing to your diary about your day and start out with “dear diary”, that’s still writing to someone. My point is it’s difficult, if not impossible, to write something if you have no idea who you are writing to.
Here comes the second problem, which is really the source of the problem explained above. Not having an audience. If you don’t know who the things that you write target you are free to do whatever you want. You can write about tech, or personal development or finance or anything! This freedom is both a blessing and a curse, just as freedom in life is. We are free to choose whatever we want but without the constraints whether artificially imposed or otherwise this freedom can soon become our downfall, and so it is with building a website. Without knowing who you are writing to you can’t possibly make something that will help someone.
This brings me to why you are really here checking out this post, because you want to know what your website is missing. Why it is that you don’t get as much traffic, as many views or as many inquiries as you want or hope to. Because your website doesn’t have a personality! Because you don’t know who you are writing it for! Think about it, do you act exactly the same in every situation of your life? Of course not! You are different at work, at home, and in social settings. Now some people might call this being fake, and in some ways that is what this could quickly turn into, putting on different acts for different situations. I’m not talking about this, I am talking about adapting your personality to meet the situation, take work and home life for example, you are still the same person with the underlying traits, strengths and weaknesses, but they are displayed in very different ways. You wouldn’t act as casual and laid back at work as you do at home, and if you did you probably wouldn’t need to worry about going to work the next day. With the same being true for your home life, you wouldn’t be as flat out trying to get things done all the time as you are at work, that’s just not healthy. In both situations an overall view of your personality towards work and productivity can be seen. Neither are the same, and they shouldn’t be.
Earlier in this week I received an email that intrigued me and really got me thinking. It was from an online company that I buy things from pretty regularly and I suppose they are trying to increase their business as the email read something like this:
Dear Jason, We just wanted to ask you a quick question. Why did you chose our company out of the many which are out there? What made you chose us and why have you stuck with us for so long?
Well, it really made me think. Why had I chosen this company over the many others out there, what made me keep coming back to them? So I thought about the question a lot, I wanted to help this company out with their research and I really wanted to know for myself as well. So I thought about it for a day or two and this was my general response:
The main reason that I chose your company was actually a combination of a few things. Firstly I had just gotten back from two years in NZ where I had used a company just like yours and had some great experiences and wanted to find something similar in Australia. A quick search online and I found a whole host of options, none that I was super drawn to in the beginning, so after some looking around, I started to compare prices and even brand availability. I found some sites with cheaper products but the feel of their website just seemed really cheap and a little too good to be true, so I continued to look. I found stores that had great designs, but these were always a little too expensive or made me feel just like a just another sales prospect to them. That’s when I found your company, not the cheapest, not the best designed website but just the right amount of everything. I really feel like your team has a great thing going and I love the personal connection that you are able to make with the customers. So I gave it a try and have never looked back.
That’s when all of this really hit me. The thing that I was missing was the thing that most small websites are missing. Its personality! I am not the next Squarespace or WordPress or insert any other huge web design company or platform here. Just like you and your website isn’t the next Google or Facebook or relevant huge player in your industry, and that’s not a bad thing. Your customers aren’t looking for the big players in your industry, they already know who they are, and they have kept looking because they want something more. They want a personal connection to their web designer or to their IT guy or whatever it is they are looking for.
I think about the websites and services that I use most often and that have helped me the most and a common thread throughout all of them is that I feel a personal connection to their business, to their brand. Websites like forums I use and am an active participant in. And well the truth is, people can’t make this personal connection with you if you don’t share any of your personality with them. It just can’t happen! and you can’t share your personality with them, if you haven’t clearly defined who it is you are sharing with.