Solopreneurs typically want to get clients to take action now, rather than later.
So they’re often advised to create a sense of scarcity – “Act now or it’ll be gone by Thursday!”
But when you offer a professional service, the rules change.
You can’t scare people into action: you’ll scare them away. Instead, you create scarcity in one of three ways:
1.) You demonstrate that clients need you because they can’t perform that service themselves.
They come to your website asking, “What can you do that I can’t, because you’ve got knowledge and skills I don’t possess?”
Your expertise might be as simple as assembling furniture. But if you can do it and they can’t, they need you.
2.) You raise the bar when nobody else delivers your service in the same way. Ask anyone who’s driven across town to get the perfect haircut because “otherwise I’ll look like I’m doing Halloween early.”
3.) You get fast action when you can solve a problem when they’re out-on-the-edge desperate. Copywriter Kevin Rogers call this your “bat signal talent.” In Kevin’s example, when your million-dollar launch goes south, only a few copywriters can help. Clients come to them and they command premium fees.
So if you’re a service professional, your website needs to shine a light on your expertise. Already got a website? Here are 7 surprisingly easy tweaks you can make that will dramatically enhance your reputation as THE Expert.
Easy website tweaks to be Seen as “the” expert
Tweak #1: Put your credentials front and center, even if they’re not directly related to your service
In some fields (think “architecture” or “psychotherapy”) you absolutely, positively need those degrees.
But degrees in any field can grow your reputation as The Expert. The letters after your name demonstrate that you’ve got the drive to finish a multi-year program and some basic book smarts, too.
And your degree may be more relevant than you think.
One of my clients, a self-defense expert, hadn’t realized that the skills from her anthropology degree –awareness of nonverbal cues, sensitivity to culture and ability to sense clues that “something is not right” – were exactly what she taught her clients who walked into potentially dangerous situations. Her Ivy League pedigree didn’t hurt, either.
Your website can also display non-academic credentials as well, such as awards from industry groups, mentions in major media, or being on someone’s “top 20″ list.
The key is that you’ve got recognition conferred by an objective third party. Marketer Marya Jan calls this the “as seen on” factor.
In some fields, such as coaching or marketing, this recognition becomes especially powerful because degrees are less relevant.
Tweak #2: Take charge of your testimonials
Client testimonials represent some of the most valuable copy on your website, yet many business owners just cut-and-paste whatever they get from their clients.
Instead, you can …
… Set expectations with your initial client agreement: you’ll be asking for a testimonial when you deliver the project.
… Respond to spontaneous compliments with, “May I use that on my website?” Don’t wait: people have short memories.
… Recognize that testimonials need copywriting edits to showcase your skills. Write up your clients’ feedback as a testimonial and get permission to use it on your website. I’ve never had clients say no. Usually they ask, “Can I add something more?”
… Supplement your testimonials with photos: If you meet a client in person get your photograph taken together to be featured on your website.
Tweak #3: Create content that nobody else could have written
Lose the cookie-cutter.
We don’t need more reminders to identify your target market, eat leafy green vegetables, and spend less time viewing cat photos on Facebook.
Instead, introduce an angle that nobody else has covered — but your audience members wish they did.
For instance, a dog trainer could focus on dogs newly adopted from the animal shelter, reactive dogs, or even how to evaluate a dog trainer.
Some marketers will tell you to be controversial and take a strong stand. When you’re a true expert, you will do this automatically, without being told! You’ll find yourself disagreeing with the prevailing wisdom in your field and you’ll want to set the record straight.
For instance, I take a strong stand in favor of creating content before embarking on design for websites. A nutrition expert can argue against a super-strict, no-treat diet. No need to invent a controversy: you’re just being you.
Tweak #4: Turn client notes into case studies
Often you can’t communicate everything you’ve delivered in a simple testimonial. But you can present the full range of your expertise in a case study – a story of how you transformed your client’s life, business or career.
Testimonials focus on your client’s results and reactions. Case studies tell a story, with a sense of drama. You have the option to use third person, positioning yourself as the narrator, and you can disguise the client’s identity.
The key to an effective case study is to provide just enough detail to demonstrate your contribution to the client’s success. You can omit the nitty-gritty (“We started with an intake sheet”) and cut to the chase: “Hermione received two promotions within a year after she participated in my 7-week proprietary leadership boot camp program.”
Tweak #5: Show that you are a creator, not an imitator
Experts don’t just implement what they’ve learned in school. They come up with their own methods to get results more effectively than the competition.
For example, one of my early clients worked in warehouse management consulting – not exactly a glamorous field. Buried deep within his website was the comment that he needed only one visit to analyze the client’s needs.
When I asked him to explain, he said his competitors required several days but he had developed a system to avoid disrupting his clients’ workflow. We highlighted this fact on his “about” and “services” pages.
Tweak #6: Write and speak with authority
Experts feel confident about themselves and their knowledge. You communicate your confidence with small signals. Someone watching will pick up on your uncertainty, even when you make an effort to hide or they aren’t consciously aware of what you’re doing. It’s like a gambler’s “tell:” you can’t hide the truth.
When you include a video on your site, speaking more rapidly will communicate confidence. People engage more when they listen to fast speech.
When your video includes a lot of pauses and “um” type fillers, you communicate that you’re not sure of what you’re saying. However, an occasional “um” will sound natural and more authentic than an overly polished presentation.
Writing styles also signal confidence. Exclamation points suggest a jittery, nervous style; in moderation they’re good but when you present a handful all at once you come across as breathless.
A common mistake many new professionals make is to include quotes from famous thought leaders. For instance, a lot of coaching websites feature quotes from Deepak Chopra and Tony Robbins. You give the impression you’re borrowing someone else’s expertise, when you could be promoting your own.
Tweak #7: Bold is beautiful
Simple, bold websites communicate strength and sureness.
You don’t have to be a minimalist or follow a certain style. Media strategist Jessica Ann writes, “Simple web design means no clutter, clear navigation, crisp fonts and simple logos.”
Some especially strong examples of bold web design include Designer Andrew Reifman, copywriter Jon Ryder and branding expert Dre Beltrami. Just as we speak of people being comfortable in their own skin, these business owners come across as super-comfortable with their online presence.
There’s no one style that’s right or wrong, as long as it’s bold and consistent – consistent within the site and with your own vision, audience, value proposition and style.
These 7 tips will transform your website and showcase you as The Expert. They’re surprisingly easy to implement, and they’ll help you target the clients you’d most like to work with. They’ll view you as the expert and they’ll realize they need to move quickly to benefit from what you can offer.