It’s been a long time coming — almost a year, in fact. In between working on client projects and steadily growing our agency, behind the scenes we’ve been strategizing, planning, writing, designing and developing a brand new Clariant Creative website.
Amen, hallelujah, and a heart-felt thank you to the hours and hours of work and creativity put in by everyone on our team!
To help us focus our resources and carry this project over the finish line, we even put the rest of our marketing on hold for the past three months — including blogging and content creation. And now it’s finally paid off.
To acknowledge all that hard work, I thought I’d share with you exactly how we went about stripping down our old website to its bones and systematically rebuilding everything from the ground up. It was a long and involved process, but in the end, it was absolutely worth it.
Here’s how we did it.
1. What’s our message?
From the start, we knew that every aspect of our website was on the table for consideration. There were no sacred cows here. We therefore kicked off the project by reevaluating every aspect of our messaging — from our core values, to our buyer personas, target markets, and value proposition.
We have several internal tools we’ve developed over the years to guide us through this process, and it was refreshing to be able to use these tools for our own marketing, rather than for our clients.
Additionally, I relied heavily on two books every entrepreneur should read: Scaling Up, by Verne Harnish, and Traction, by Gino Wickman. Both books were instrumental in helping me get straight to the heart of what was truly the most important, most unique things about our agency, our team and the way we serve our clients.
2. What do we do?
We also needed to create some clarity around the services we deliver and the problems we solve. As a small business owner, I’m always tempted to fall into the trap of trying to be all things to all people. But this is not only the fastest way to burn out both yourself and your team, it also makes it impossible to differentiate yourself in a crowded market.
We needed to draw a line in the sand and identify precisely what we do for our clients (and why) as well as what we don’t do (and why). Again, Scaling Up and Traction were enormously helpful with this process.
3. What’s broken on our website?
Once we had clarity around our messaging and our go-to-market approach, we were finally in a position to analyze where our (previous) website didn’t match our business objectives.
For example, once we realized that part of what makes us us is the warm, friendly, welcoming relationships we build with our clients, we immediately recognized that our website lacked that same level of warmth that we always try to communicate in our work.
Related Content: How to Align Your Team Around a Consistent Brand Voice
Also, we grudgingly admitted that not all of the ebooks we offered on our website met the same quality standards we apply to the work we deliver to our clients. In fact, after some painful attempts to update some of this content, we decided ultimately to can several items and start afresh.
4. What’s working well on our website?
On the flip side, the clarity in our messaging and market approach enabled us to identify what was working well with our website.
For example, one area that has been exceptionally successful for us is content upgrades. These are typically templates and toolkits that we might add to a blog post to help a reader put the advice contained in the blog post into action. (For examples, see our blog post templates and buyer persona questionnaire.)
These “mini” content offers generally convert really well for us — but previously, readers could only find these offers if they happened to read a specific blog post. We realized, though, that these templates and toolkits are genuinely helpful to our readers, and we wanted to elevate their visibility so they’d be easier to find.
We therefore gave our Resources section a complete overhaul. ALL our offers, including ebooks, templates, toolkits, checklists, cheat sheets and more, can now all be easily found by browsing or by searching for content topic or content format.
5. How do we pull it all together?
Finally, with a solid understanding of what we wanted our website to be, we dove in and started working. We developed a new site map, wrote new copy for every page, and designed a new look and feel. The result is a website that is warm, friendly, engaging, easy to read, and helpful. Our message is now clear and straightforward, which reflects that these are two core values we consider to be central to who we are as a team and as an agency.
To be honest, our new website probably isn’t as slick and shiny as some of our bigger competitors, but that’s okay — because in truth, we’re not worried about trying to impress our readers with how clever we think we are.
Instead, we’re committed to delivering outstanding content, designed to achieve specific business goals, and presented in simple and straightforward ways that engage readers, pull them into the funnel, and encourage them to take the next step in their buying journey.
This website overhaul was a long, intense process that we worked on in bits and pieces during our slow times in between bigger client projects. At times it was overwhelming, and it occasionally felt like our new site might never launch, but we kept at it. And here we are … and I am so incredibly proud.
If any aspect of our journey has resonated with you … if you’re looking at your own website and recognizing that it no longer reflects your company’s current reality … if you’re wondering whether a truly solid brand story might help you better serve your own clients … shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have a lot of ideas, and we’d love to talk with you.