This blog series is written by Sarah Lucier, our Advertising Intern from St. Clair College.

When we first meet with potential clients to discuss their websites, we only have a few goals in mind:

  • Figure out who they are, so we can capture that authentically
  • Find out who their audience is, so we can market to them effectively
  • Lay out some goals for not only the project, but for their business in general

For us, this simple outline lays the groundwork for a fully-fleshed, effective digital strategy.

If you’re working with us to develop a website, or you’re looking to design your own, there are some important steps that have to happen in order to make sure your project works.

Secret number one: A little early legwork makes a huge difference

Here it is: you need to establish your target audience. So often we hear, “we work with anybody!” or “we’ll sell anything!”

That may be true. But that doesn’t mean you market to everybody. Instead, actively pursue one ideal audience, and accept others if they happen to want to work with you. Best of both worlds!

Narrowing your audience

Think about:

Who do you currently work with?

Who do you want to work with?

Who do you not want to work with?

Then, dive into that “ideal” audience:

Who are they?

I don’t just mean their age or gender. I mean the jobs they have, the roles they fill on their teams, their technical savvy, how they spend their time online. If you work with both buyers and sellers, fill out this template twice, once for each audience.

What do they want?

Remember, we’re only talking about the people you mentioned above. To keep your analysis short and breezy, only include what they want out of their real estate journey.

What are they afraid of?

What keeps them up at night? What do they anxiously Google? What worried questions have these clients asked you in the past?

What are they struggling with?

This is an important question; I call them “pain points”. What’s stopping your audience, right now, from buying a home? What specific road blocks, however small, exist for this audience?

Next steps

After you’ve laid out an authentic, goal-oriented target audience, you need to understand that your website isn’t about you – it’s about your clients. Your branding, your web structure, your content, and your design is all about attracting your target audience.

Secret number two: The experts still need you

We manage an interesting dance when designing websites for clients. On one hand, we’re experts; our designers know how to move a user through your site clearly, our copywriters know how to inspire your ideal clientele to action, and our developers can make it all happen on a lean, mean, mobile-optimized powerhouse.

On the other hand, we can’t do any of this without you. Not only do we need nitty-gritty stuff like vector images, headshots, and approvals, we also need your own expertise. You know your audience better than anyone. You know what they need to hear.

We’re still balancing this dance. Here’s how you can help:

Ask questions

Don’t understand something? That’s okay! Sometimes we forget that not everybody knows what UI/UX is, or what leads pages are vs. content pages. If you’re a little lost, don’t hesitate to clarify.

Approve things ASAP!

We, over time, have developed a specific workflow that gets your website built as fast as possible. One of the major holdups is waiting for approvals. If we’ve sent you something for approval, there are four options:

  • Approve
  • Minor edits with approval
  • Ask for clarification, no approval
  • Major edits, no approval

We need this information as fast as possible so we can stay on track building your site. We’re happy to make changes – we promise! We’re professionals. But we need to know what you think first.

If you’re not sure, say so

We often ask what you think before we advise you on a course of action. That’s so we don’t lead you on through a whole project before you decide it’s not right for you. In those instances, if you have no idea, then let us know! Free reign is fun territory, and if you think we’ll know best, then let us fly free.

If you want something, say so

If you want a specific neighbourhood page, a form, a plug-in, or a photo, we’re happy to oblige. Your ideas matter, and you shouldn’t defer to us when it comes to your vision. We’ll tell you if we think it’s a good idea or not – don’t get us wrong – but don’t hold back on the pieces of the project that you’re excited about.

Remember that your site isn’t for you. It’s for your clients

Everything on the site should be aimed at converting your potential clients, not someone who looks and acts just like you. You don’t want a real estate website for Realtors (unless you do…) Instead, think about how your website impacts your ideal audience. Is it convincing? Would they feel confident in hiring you?

Start collecting your testimonials

Better yet, always be collecting testimonials. They are easily one of the best ways to convince a website visitor to hiring you.

Have you heard of the “Ben Franklin” effect? Studies have shown that people who have done you a favour are more likely to do you another one. They’re more likely to do you a second favour than if you were the one who had done them the favour. So don’t hesitate to ask your clients to write you testimonials – science says they’ll like you better for it!

Secret number three: WordPress is your friend

We’re just gonna say it – WordPress is one of the most user-friendly and effective portals out there for web design. Development can get complicated, but updating behind-the-scenes after launch just takes a little time and effort to “get it”, and then it should be smooth sailing.

That being said, don’t be afraid to take your time and learn it! On delivery, we’ll run you through everything you need to know about your brand-spankin’-new site. We know it can feel like an information overload. We’ll do our best to keep it clear, but don’t hesitate to ask questions, slow down the tutorial, or practice on your own time.

WordPress can be a little confusing to start, but you’ll be so happy to have full control over your own site content when we’re done.

We can’t wait to work with you on your web project. Want to start a project together? Let us know!

- Sarah Lucier, Advertising Intern

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