I recently visited the websites of some of the top design firms in the world. It was both inspiring and, truth be told, slightly intimidating. However, despite that, I did notice one consistent problem with a majority of them:

They really like to talk about themselves.

“We do this.” “We do that.” “Look who we work with.”

Yeah, I get it. Great work sells. Success sells. Client rosters sell. But, so does humility. And emotionally connecting with your audience. If I had a nickel for every website that begins with “We,” I would likely be retired somewhere on a beach by now. It’s certainly not unique to the design industry. It’s everywhere.

Sure, many businesses have earned great reputations that precede them. They can be perceived as exclusive and appealing to the largest clients with the deepest pockets. And their success shows that it could very well be enough to earn business. But, how about conveying some empathy? How about getting your prospects to say, “Hey, they get me! I think they can help me! I want to learn more!”?

Smaller businesses, ours included, don’t have the luxury of national exposure that the largest ones sometimes get. We don’t have news headlines and industry journals driving prospects to our websites. We don’t have huge advertising and promotional budgets. We can’t get by just blowing our own horns. (Or, at least, not for very long.) But, that’s okay. We just have to work a little harder and little smarter. When potential clients make it to our website, we need to make sure we don’t lose their business before we get it. We need to be more careful and strategic with our messaging. We need to focus more on the “why”s instead of just the “what”s. We need to make it abundantly clear what’s in it for them.

Many businesses wrongly assume that their expertise will sell itself. Show your work, proclaim your qualifications, and customers will come knocking at your door. Sometimes that works. But, more often, prospects need a little bit more enticement. That’s why it’s vital that your marketing begins with your audience with a message that is meaningful to them and resonates.

Try entering their space instead of pulling them into yours.

They won’t care about you until they believe that you care about them.

They need to understand that you can make their lives easier.

While it might not shut you down, until you get there, you’re making it an uphill battle getting them to click on that contact button or pick up the phone.

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