We’ve all heard of Search Engine Optimization, but have you ever heard of Human Optimization?
SEO is when you spend a bunch of money on trying to appease the Google Gods. You use your money at the Google Ads alter, sacrificing your cash in hopes of making the Google Gods happy — giving you grace and good fortune. For a plentiful harvest. For a favorable volume of leads. So you can feed and grow your tribe.
Humanizing (Human Optimization) doesn’t idolize these false Gods. Rejected are the nonsensical notions of keyword stacking and unread blogs. Human Optimization serves as a beacon of light for your customers. It lets them know you’re a real boy, and if you tell a lie, they’ll see your nose grow.
Building credibility on directories like Home Advisor or Angie’s List is a helpful step but, if your home services website design doesn’t bond with your customers better than others, they might just go ahead and hire another company that does.
You’d never invite local contractors into your home that you didn’t feel like you could trust. Or that you couldn’t relate to on a personal level to some professional degree.
Sometimes families work with the same home service company for years, but what happens when you don’t have that kind of relationship with your customers?
A company that does have the ability to bond with people will quickly replace you.
If you rely solely on lead gen and are not fostering a sense of community, it might be time for an upgrade. The best home services websites make their customers feel a sense of relational connection.
So, what message does your website send to potential customers?
If you only care about generating revenue, your website could make your business feel cold and void of character. The good news? Taking the necessary steps to humanize your website doesn’t have to resemble a walk through a minefield.
It’s not WHAT you say. It’s HOW you say it.
Building Home Services Website “Inside Out” is a Trap!
Unlike Search Engines, humans have emotions. As a business owner, you might think using humanity to your advantage could stifle sales. Now, let’s step into the customer’s shoes for a moment.
How far has emotionless content and messaging truly gotten you when you are shopping? J. Peterman took a failing catalog order company and turned it into a world-renowned success. Apple was a failing company until Steve Jobs returned from leading Pixar and shifted to a storytelling phenomenon with an actual purpose.
As people, we are compelled to create a business strategy defined with nuts and bolts. But what if we trusted in a strategy that had less direct measurable feedback, and instead told a brand story in a way that emotionally connects with your audience? What if you bonded with your customers through trust as defined by your philosophies and principles?
Then the trick is to — in a very simple way — deliver that message on your website.
Your customer is Little Red Riding Hood. They are trying to get to Grandmother’s house safe and sound. The problem? The forest is wrought with predators and competitors whose only wish is to lead them astray.
“SALE SALE SALE”, says the Wolf. “All the better for you”, he hisses with charm and wit.
“Come sit beside me deary”, says Grandma. “Let me tell you a story”, she says warmly with a knowing smile.
Do you want to be the Wolf or Grandmother?
You can continue telling people about you, your business, and why you matter so much, but it all starts to sound the same as all the other Snake Oil Salesman out there, whether you are or not. But who doesn’t trust someone with whom they share a deep bond?
Building your home services website from the “inside out” is a trap. Nobody in the history of air conditioning, water heaters, or electrical panels has ever wanted to buy your thing. Sure, they want it, but they certainly don’t want to pay for it. Serving your customers at the highest level requires you to consider their actual felt needs, not the ones you or your industry have concocted in your imaginations.
Without this foundational understanding, you’ll never be able to connect with your audience or provide a necessary solution, because your message will not be relevant or compelling. When you operate with your own interests as the top priority, you can, and will be, the Wolf.
Wizard of Ads™ will guide your brand transformation and help you connect with your audience the right way. If you’re ready to shift your perspective, book a call today!
The Benefits of Building Your Website “Outside In”
So how do you shed those wolfish tendencies and become a welcoming and trustworthy presence for your customers? Build your residential home service website from the outside in. This means thinking about what you say from the perspective of any normal person’s 3 fundamental CORE Needs: Money, Energy, and Time.
The 3 CORE Needs
Naturally, it should be apparent to customers that you’re there to serve them, not just empty their pockets. This should be apparent on your website with how you honor and respect their money.
This is especially true when it relates to the time they trade you to service them, and how much time they will need to trade to pay for your recommendations.
Money is the first, and often most protected of the 3 CORE Needs as it is the one that is easiest to measure. Time, of course, is the most precious as it is the only one that is non-renewable. And it is actually Energy that we are all truly pursuing. The energy to enjoy life. The reward, the pleasure, the happy, are all forms of positive energy. A positive resonance. This is why we avoid the things that just don’t feel quite right, have a negative resonance, or are perceived as risk or punishment.
“Everything humans do in this universe comes down to the pursuit of positive energy.”
– Ryan Chute –
This is why we are selective about where we shop and work. The money has to be right in both situations for the time we agree to trade-off to enjoy the energy and time we have left over from the exchange.
When we have M.E.T. (see what I did there) the 3 CORE Needs of your customers, you will have a much higher conversion, average sale, and profit from the prospects you are most interested in attracting and serving in your business. These are the Relational Customers. These are the high intent, High CAP customers that are in it for the long run, as long as you continue to help them win in a trustworthy and grateful manner.
Think of your communication from the standpoint of customer-oriented relational experiences (CORE). This includes all the visual and written communication on your website. Taking a customer-oriented relational approach will help you increase conversions.
What does a customer-oriented relational website look like from the outside in?
The home page must focus on the customer and their actual felt needs. Your message and intention should be simple to understand. Your website must be easy to navigate. Above all, it should be crystal clear what your business does and how you have already M.E.T. their real felt needs.
You may know these as a Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Describe what sets your home services apart from other competitors, but this time, as a way of honoring what the customer cares about most — their money, time, and stress avoidance.
Aside from clarity, this statement must be concise. You’ve got about 2.5 seconds to get it right. Put your single most powerful value proposition into one sentence. This is your CORE Promise.
For example, “We show up on time or you don’t pay a dime.” This CORE Promise creates a self-imposed punishment on the company for untimely service by speaking directly to the real felt needs of money and time. Goettl’s CORE Promise is to “do it the right way, not the easy way”, speaking to the real felt need of energy. They aren’t delivering cheap, or even the quickest solution. They are certainly delivering a positive energy and the banishment of the negative energy (ie. stress, frustration, callbacks, warranty work, etc.)
A website is not the place for a lengthy sales pitch or any sales pitch at all. Skip the stuff you would say during the sales pitch, and keep the communication less granular and what marketers call, “top of funnel”.
That is why your CORE Promise must reside above the fold. This is the headline and subheading that appear first on the website, at the top, before the device cuts it off and the prospect is forced to scroll.
Remember, your website is not about you or your business. It’s about the customer’s actual felt needs. Keep this top of mind as you make design and copy decisions.
Other customer-oriented relational experiences on your website include:
- Navigation. Navigation is the most essential element of any website. Complicated, SEO-intended navigation is company-centric and naive. Your solution should be easy to find and your call to action (CTA) should be simple — call or click to book an appointment. The home page should link to every other page that actually matters on your website, and eliminate any pages that do not matter to the people navigating it.
- Salience. The more helpful and relevant the information is on your website, the more salient it is. Research tells us that low salience is the number one reason for bounce rate. This means practicing exformation as much as information on your website. You aren’t going to win the game of SEO against the multinational aggregators in Residential Home Service, so spend your Money, Energy, and Time most wisely on saying what matters most to your desired audience and abandon the futile pursuit of answering questions that nobody is asking.
- Responsive. Your residential home service website should have a clean design that functions properly on all the different devices.
- Color. Stick to a branded color palette to maintain a sense of cohesiveness. Branding companies like KickCharge Creative will identify the 3 to 4 core colors you should be using in conjunction with your overall visual identity. Colors are a language and should be treated with the same reverence and care that you choose your words when looking to persuade. The wise use of white space will lead the eye to what matters most.
- Accessible. Make your call to action simple, clear, and readily available. Making it difficult to find your conversion button will result in people going elsewhere. Asking for a variety of different calls to action is confusing and results in analysis paralysis.
The goal is to convert. Period. Nothing more. Nothing less.
When you cut out all the clutter and speak to your preferred audience about what matters most to the audience, you are doing precisely what you would do in a relationship that you are looking to pursue.
The most powerful stories, songs, and art all speak to the audience’s sensibilities and leave out the boring parts.
Humanizing Your Website Also Means Humanizing Your Brand
Humanizing your brand means stepping into the Grandmother role and becoming relational. Imagine coming home to a plate of warm cookies or a seat at the dinner table reserved just for you. Build that connection and sentiment for your target audience through your brand image and messaging.
Make it clear through your marketing that your only purpose is to help them win in a trustworthy and grateful manner. Think of your brand identity as an art form, not a tactic. In an art gallery, each piece is accompanied by a story that evokes emotion from the viewer.
No matter the price tag, customers trust brands and products that they can relate to. This may sound easier said than done, but here are some simple ways to humanize your brand.
Tell Your Story
Every brand has a story. Are you telling it? Are you telling the right one? Are you telling the story that the audience cares about? Do the visual elements of your story align with the narration?
Customers want to know what you stand for, who you are, and what you stand against. They are trying to decide why they should trust you. Share your brand story on your website, social media, and any other marketing materials you create. The more customers feel they know your brand, the more likely they are to do business with you.
People can spot a fake a mile away today. It’s essential that you are authentically aligned in your brand and your actions. Be honest about your capabilities and limitations. Don’t make promises that you can’t keep. Do what you say you are going to do, then do something extra to deliver a delightful experience. When you are consistently authentic with your employees and your customers they will love your brand even more.
Cut the Catfishing
People are naturally drawn to faces. Primarily so they can determine if you appear trustworthy or not. They are looking, quite specifically, for warmth and competence. Showing faces is a symbolic maneuver in showing your good faith. Whether it’s through team headshots on your website or featured customer stories, consider putting a face to your brand. Doing so will help build trust and connection with your audience.
Have you ever noticed that strong teams always have a secret language? I’m not talking about industry jargon. I am talking about a common inside language that everyone on the inside instantly understands and appreciates. The stronger your inside language is across your customer base, the stronger the affinity is to your brand.
To create and deepen your unique tribal language, you need to say something that is highly congruent and sticky over and over again until the greater group takes it over as part of their vernacular. These can be done in mass media advertising, ritualizing specific content, and regularly using it from the top down until adopted by all.
Most importantly, the way you speak to your customers should be clear. But don’t ignore the incredibly powerful nature of inside language.
Show, Don’t Tell
People are bombarded with a huge amount of information every day. Unless it is new, surprising, and different information than what they currently have, you will not change their behavior. Broca’s Area on the left side of the brain will see to that.
If you do, however, say something that gets through the gatekeeper, you want to paint a picture in the mind’s eye, the imagination, for a person cannot go where they have not first yet been in their mind.
Telling someone you are trustworthy is hopelessly untrustworthy. Showing them you are trustworthy through expert storytelling is exponentially more persuasive.
Research has clearly identified that the secret to happiness is gratitude. It isn’t your Lamborghini that makes you happy. It is the set of circumstances that allows you to own a Lamborghini that makes you happy. When we come to understand this simple truth, we have an endless abundance of happiness.
Gratitude is a higher-level brain function and resides in a place of abundance and wealth. Wisdom allows us to abandon the Ego back in surviving mode and we begin to embrace an abundance mindset.
This is how we are able to shift from rewarding new customers to rewarding only our most loyal. This is how we are able to curate extraordinary value stacks, abandoning discounts and delivering only world-class buying experiences.
When we can get away from celebrating the domination of customers and taking their money, and start celebrating how exceptional we served them instead, we have the basis for legacy and generational wealth.
You can only pretend to be authentic for so long before people will see through your lies. The length of time depends on the size of your market and how well you can avoid direct exposure, like Google Reviews.
In a world of transparency, you have to be one of the good guys. The only sustainable way is to tell the truth and have a purpose. People without purpose have no north star to point to when your character comes into question.
This means you have to tell your true story. If you don’t have a story…if you don’t have things you stand for… or if you are kind of a shitty person… then you should really think hard about what you’re doing, and if you even deserve to enjoy the rewards of a successful company.
If you are good in your core, then start figuring out what you stand for, and what you stand against — in your industry, and for your tribe.
There is an innate appeal to raw truthfulness. Transparently disclosing your flaws and shortcomings is incredibly trustworthy, and most people will be very attracted to this.
Most smart business owners see this as an affront to their value, power, and image. 200 years of conditioning is to blame for these leadership and success myths.
The truth is that being vulnerable is the most courageous thing you can do. You cannot have courage without vulnerability, by definition. And for those who are too afraid to show their flaws are being held back by the Ego.
You can certainly make money without ever expressing your flaws, confronting and facing your flaws head-on, but these people will never know the immense amount of money they have left off the table by being brave. Don’t be seduced into thinking your flaws won’t eventually be exposed. The only difference is that when you choose to expose them you control the narrative, and when you don’t you appear disingenuous.
It’s How You Respond
Customers appreciate brands that are responsive to their questions and concerns. Making sure you’re available to address your customers’ concerns promptly, no matter the severity, will win you more followers than it will cost you in time and money.
Every interaction you have with a customer allows you to provide a great experience, or drop the ball. 50% of your customers will never tell you that they are unhappy. No Google Review. No feedback. No screaming match. Nothing. Literally nothing. You will never hear from them again.
The whiners are actually a gift. They are the minority that are willing to stand up for what they don’t see as right or just. For every one person that complains, there are 10 that say nothing.
When you create an environment that makes it easy and valuable for people to provide sincere feedback, employees and customers alike, you have the chance to do something about it. This is where you go against your natural primal instincts to fight, flight, or freeze, and take radical proactive action to make things better than right.
It’s not WHAT you say. It’s HOW you say it. Meet their pain points — their CORE Needs. These are the things you can celebrate on your website, in your social media, and in your branded advertising.
How To Human Optimize your Residential Home Services Website
After building your website from the “outside-in”, it’s time to human optimize it. You already know search engine optimization. We cannot ignore the relevance of maintaining a healthy website in the eyes of the Google Gods, but Google isn’t making the buying decision — your prospect is.
Fun Fact: Your prospects are made of people. You may want to communicate with them as such.
There are several ways to achieve this, but here are five of our top tips for humanizing your website.
Entertainment is the currency of a too-busy public. If you are going to elicit a reaction, you need to say something fun, interesting, and entertaining. This means you can’t take yourself too seriously. Don’t worry if you’re not the outgoing extrovert type. You don’t need to be. Some of the funniest people we know are the dry, straight man-styled humor that has us coming back for more.
With a well-constructed character diamond of your business brand and of the prominent players that will get the public appeal, you will find it much easier to find your entertainment style.
Elicit an Emotion
People love stories about other people. People buy from people. People look to people for solutions, not businesses. It’s your people for which you are judged, so find ways to add in the good, bad, and ugly about people.
Talk about the way people have messed up. Talk about how people fixed it. Talk about the pain points that customers have… the real felt needs. And talk about how your people M.E.T. those felt needs, and exceeded expectations.
Stories allow people to step into your gravity well and elicit an emotion. Stories can do what descriptions and information cannot. Make people FEEL. Whether you make them laugh, cry, or get angry, you will win the public appeal, when you make them FEEL.
Be Worthy of Trust
Trust is a CORE Principle that cannot be denied it’s just dessert. Without trust, you can only have a transaction, and as such, you will have to be the lowest price to otherwise earn the sale.
While pointing to your Google Rating is one way to demonstrate that you have acted in a trustworthy manner on previous occasions, even Google Reviews are under scrutiny for how much they can be trusted. Heck, if you have a perfect 5-star rating, that unto itself is untrustworthy.
To really win the game of trust, you need to start before the game has even started. That means a well-thought-out and strategized branded advertising campaign, both online and offline. You then need to take those most memorable phrases and words and align them with your brand image and website.
The more consistent you are with your message, the more persuasive you will be. When your target audience eventually needs what you sell, you will already own some real estate in their heart and mind.
Once you’ve won them over, it is imperative that you keep their confidence. Hell hath no fury like a relational buyer scorned. The more they love you, the more they will hate you when you brake their trust.
One of the most counterintuitive practices in modern web design is the practice of exformation. With digital weasels running amok trying to convince you of the importance of now ancient SEO practices because that’s the fun bits of their job, they riddle your otherwise lovely website with a bevy of unnecessary nonsense and pseudo-value.
When a prospect comes by your website through paid and unpaid channels, it is essential that you CONVERT THEM. Period. Get the dang appointment and move on, son. This isn’t a damn museum. It’s a residential home service website.
Nobody cares about 99% of the nonsense you have paid too much money to post. Cut.It.Out.
The perfect way to humanize your website is by eliminating all the BORING BITS!
People want to do business with people, not some faceless corporation. When you share your story on your residential home services website, you give your customers the chance to judge you against your competition. Are you going to be the interesting, charming, suave person who has lots of interesting things to say, and has a great sense of humor? Or are you going to be the weird guy talking in lingo and trying to overjustify your value with all the stupid stuff that nobody cares about or already expects to be the minimum standard?
- Above the fold, you want a call to action and a crystal clear definition of what you sell. If you have a single, well-articulated statement that demonstrates your difference, be sure they see it in the headline. Smattered about the site, you’ll want to have a bunch more of the exact same CTAs in the form of an online scheduler and a single phone number.
- Your service area is always one of the first questions for new visitors, so make it easy to find, navigate, and interpret.
- Your point-of-entry price will also be one of the first questions on anyone’s mind. How much do you cost to come out? Is it complicated or easy? Is it expensive or cheap? If you’ve done a great job attracting relational buyers, they don’t care that you cost $99 to show up. If you’re appealing to transactional shoppers, asking for money without resolving the problem will be an affront to their good sense.
- Your values are more important than your blog, and it’s high time someone told you. What do you believe in? What do you stand for? What do you stand against? Strong, unwavering universal truths that allow your prospects to align or move on. You can tell these stories in a variety of places, including the home page, about us page, guarantees page, and your FAQs.
- Your services are your keywords, not menu items. You don’t need a page for every single last thing that you sell or provide. You just don’t. That’s not how people engage with websites today. Tell people what you provide in the most concise way possible and make it ridiculously easy to navigate.
- Your club membership is the most valuable piece of your business. Not because it pays for itself, unto itself, but because it locks up your customer’s mind. Customer’s on your well-designed club membership don’t go shopping, are more likely to refer you, and don’t click on your PPC ads.
- Your warranties and guarantees are a clear indication of how you serve your customers. Simple, fully transparent, and deweaseled warranties and guarantees are a great way to win the hearts and minds of prospects. While warranties outline how long you warrant your parts and workmanship, guarantees are the self-imposed punishments you put on yourself in service of your customers.
- FAQs are the questions you actually ARE being asked. Unlike blogs, people will actually ready your FAQs and that makes them a great place to generate attention, interest, decision, and action (A.I.D.A.) for your business. Start by asking your call team what questions they are consistently being asked and then write up a response that gets you the best conversion into appointments that you would actually be willing to do consistently.
- Careers are not a thing you have the luxury of turning on and off anymore. You have no idea when the perfect candidate is going to show up at your door. Do you want to have the closed sign hung in the window when they rock up, or do you maybe want to have a chat with your next champion? You would be absolutely astounded to hear that a small percentage of prospects will read your career listings and if exceptionally well written, not only will you get great candidates, but you may just get a great customer show up too. We’ve seen it first hand.
- Your Call to Action must be easy and fast. Keep a static phone number on the site. Have a live online scheduler that books an exact appointment time. Minimize the form fill questions. Keep the CTA the same throughout the website. You have one goal and one goal only. Book.The.Appointment.
Some of the things you may be surprised that you don’t need are testimonials, images of your products, stock images of ‘tradespeople’, or transitional CTAs. No one is going to sign up for your newsletter. Website testimonials are not to be trusted, and nobody in the history of humankind has cared what a water heater looks like. Secondary CTAs only distract from the singular goal of your primary CTA, so just don’t do it.
Less is more. -Ryan Chute
If you are going to use images, use real pictures of your real team, your actual trucks, and the area you serve. If you’re going to say something, only say what matters to get the appointment, and skip all the other boring bits that are losing you more customers than gaining.
Protect and Defend
The number one greatest failure in business today is the utter absence of an actual CORE Purpose.
People are far more simple than we want to admit. We react to internal and external motivations to pursue a better life than where we are currently in our state of mind. While the majority of people are living in survival mode, there are many others living in the first layer of thriving mode too.
If we ever hope to sell them stuff, we need to meet them where their mindset is today and motivate them with what matters to them most. In the absence of the 3 internal motivators Identity, Purpose, and Adventure, the only motivations left are Price, Power, and Praise.
When you operate your business with a powerful and committed CORE Purpose, you will attract the people who want to share the Adventure with you, aligning their Identity with your brand identity.
The alternative is to give them the lowest price, affording them power over you, so they can earn the praise of others for how good a deal they got from you.
A humanized (human optimized) brand is a relatable brand, and a relatable brand is a trusted brand. People prefer to do business with people they know, like, and trust. If you show your customers that you are real people, you’re way more likely to win their business for a lifetime.
If you’re ready to enhance your home services website, book a call with Wizard of Ads™ today!