People form opinions and make decisions on a variety of conscious and subconscious levels, so if you’re a reseller, it’s useful to be more aware of how you can influence people’s perception of your brand as well as controlling what signals you’re sending. This post looks at how you can identify some of these levels and use them to maximise your appeal.
Make sure your brand is a direct reflection of you and your personality.
Whether you’re selling yourself directly as a person or you’ve created a company, fundamentally you need to make sure it’s a true reflection of who you are and what you believe in. Trying to be something you’re not is ultimately going to lead to inconsistencies and frustrated customers.
‘Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.’
Embrace what you’ve got, and consistency will follow. Being natural is fine – don’t feel you have to artificially work to create a perception of your brand as ‘modern’ or ‘serious’ or ‘fun’, because that can often lead to exaggeration and stereotyping. Avoid becoming a cliche or a caricature of yourself, or a copy of someone else. People will respect you for it, and providing a great service is much more important than gimmicks.
Don’t try and be everything to everyone.
When you’re starting out, it’s tempting to try and maximise your sales by maximising the market you target. This can lead to various problems from spreading yourself too thinly to not appealing to the right people. Find your niche, but remember you can also develop and/or adjust it over time, particularly if you combine selling hosting with services such as web design. Targeting a specific niche will help you create more effective sales pages that will have direct appeal to your visitors and also helps you with your SEO approach (you can target less competitive long tail keywords cheaply and more successfully compared to more general, highly competitive terms).
‘You get what you pay for’: the web design edition
You’re not going to appeal to everyone, and you shouldn’t try. Maximising your appeal to the right audience is key, as is managing expectations with your design. Similarly to supermarkets and the high street, pricing and appearance should be very closely correlated for your company. If your site looks budget (note: this doesn’t automatically equal unprofessional!), people will expect your prices to be cheap. If your site is very clearly custom-made to an exceptional standard, people will expect your prices to be on the higher side. Neither of these approaches is necessarily the ‘right’ one (although the key to success is often making a clear choice between whether you want to be known as ‘the cheapest’ or ‘the best’).
Without any brand names or prices, you still know which is cheap and which expensive.
Test, test, and keep testing.
Test extensively – don’t just assume that because you act in a certain way that other people will too. Use different versions of pages and see which people talk about more, engage with more, and which convert better. It may be something as simple and rearranging text or using a different image or colour. Use heat mapping tools as well as Google Analytics to highlight any problems (such as people trying to click an image which isn’t linked to anything) or to reposition elements to be more noticeable.
If your site is reasonably big, check your internal linking thoroughly to make sure there are no 404s and you aren’t accidentally sending your visitors in circles around the same few pages.
Tick the social boxes.
It’s surprising how many people will search for you/your company on networks such as LinkedIn to check you out in more depth. Take a look at our Social Media Bumper Roundup for plenty of tips and advice on helping you make social media work for you. It’s easy to get carried away and end up at either extreme – posting too frequently or not posting at all. Set a schedule for yourself and make use of tools like HootSuite and Tweetdeck to help you get the balance right without spending all your time on Twitter and Facebook.
Provide controlled choices at checkout.
Henry Ford famously said, “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.” Obviously you don’t want to be that restrictive, but offering a carefully considered and limited number of choices makes it much easier for your customers to order from you. The more thinking required and the more actions they need to complete, the less likely it is they will go through with an order. If you have a particular preference (for example you want customers to pay yearly rather than monthly), you can always provide an incentive for customers to choose that option, such as offering a slightly lower price or welcome extras if they choose to pay that way.
Be easy to contact.
Whatever your preferred method is – email, phone, ticket, social media – make sure your customers know this. Have a clear contact process in place, and be friendly and approachable.
Work on customer feedback.
This is something we have a strong tradition of doing. After all, your customers are using your services on a practical level every day, and they often have great suggestions to make their lives easier and your services better – it’s a win-win situation. Encourage feedback, but also know when it makes sense to implement it – some ideas may be great for customers, but not so great for your business.
Don’t be scared of being different.
Web hosting is an incredibly competitive industry, so don’t be afraid to stand out from the crowd. Even if some of the things you do don’t work out quite how you expect, something that will get people talking is beneficial.
Think about what other skills you have (or that you’re interested in learning) that can be incorporated into your business. Podcasts, video, print design, writing and plenty of other semi-related skills can all come in handy. If you don’t have the skills but you have the ideas, you can generally hire someone to do the work for you relatively inexpensively through freelance websites. Just make sure you’re consistent and the media you create is in line with how you want to be perceived.