5 signs you need a new website
My first year living in NYC, I gained 20 pounds. It happened slowly. Imperceptibly.
Until one morning, as I struggled to button my favorite pair of Zara pants, it hit me: my body had changed.
I felt as if it happened overnight, but of course, that’s not true. I’d been too absorbed in the daily details of my life to notice.
If you’ve been in business for a bit, the same thing has probably happened with your website. Here’s how it goes:
Your business grows from an idea into a freelance gig into a “real-deal” business. Your days fill up with clients. You refine your processes. You become known as an expert.
All the while, your website starts to lag behind. Slowly. Imperceptibly.
One morning it hits you: the website that once fit is now as uncomfortable as a pair of too-tight Zara pants.
When this happens, it can be panic-inducing.
It feels as though you outgrew your website overnight and you need to fix it now. Scratch that – you need to fix it YESTERDAY.
So you go on a digital crash-diet, chasing quick fixes by…
Asking for help in Facebook groups. 47 conflicting opinions from people who aren’t your clients? Sign me up for that, said no-one ever.
Buying another $2,000 course. Learning to manifest or launch a digital product will solve your issues, right?
Hiring a service provider who promises the moon. They'll redesign your website, catapult you to the top of Google, and feed your cat. In less than 2 weeks for less than $100.
Of course, none of these options work. At least not in the long term.
Although it might feel like you outgrew your website overnight, there are actually 5 signs along the way.
If you know what to look for, you can avoid panic-mode.
Instead of stressing out, you’ll be able to plan a website upgrade that feels calm, simple, and dare I say — fun.
In this post, we’ll look at 5 signs you need a new website, including:
You keep hearing “it’s too expensive” on sales calls
Your business model has changed
Your audience has changed
You avoid giving out your business card or URL
It’s been more than five years since you updated your brand and website
Let me know in the comments which of these applies to you!
01. You keep hearing "it's too expensive" on sales calls
In my early 20s, I worked at a café where we sold lattes for $3.50. A customer would come in, order a coffee, and walk out. The sale took 3 minutes, maximum.
Later in my career, I worked for a high-end New York art gallery where we often sold pieces for several million.
In contrast to the lattes, a 7-figure art sale could take months of groundwork. It involved a lot of relationship building, premium positioning, communication, and white-glove service.
Is a 7-figure painting "too expensive?"
Not to the buyer, it isn't. That’s because there are customers at every price point.
If you keep hearing “it's too expensive,” you’ve got a marketing and branding problem not a pricing problem.
As you raise your rates and move up the “value chain” (to borrow a phrase from Ramit Sethi), your business changes.
You need to start talking to your prospects about the benefits of your work earlier and earlier. You can't expect all the magic to happen on one 30 minute consult call, no matter how great you are at sales.
That’s where your website and branding comes in.
If you’re charging premium rates, your brand should be doing the groundwork.
Your brand and website need to build relationships, support your premium positioning, and create an outstanding experience from day 1.
In other words: don’t sell million dollar paintings in a latte environment.
02. Your business model has changed
Your business model is all about what you sell, how you sell it, and who you sell it to. It's normal for this to evolve over time, but it's important to keep an eye on any shifts.
To stand out (and sell out), you want to make sure the business you're actually running is the same business the world sees.
I have a client who built a successful blog. At first, he brought in income through ad sales. Over time, he removed ads from his blog and added online courses and digital products.
He’s now a digital education company with a blog attached, rather than a blogger. His old website looked and functioned like a free blog and it was leaving money on the table because it didn't suit his new business model.
To get clear on your business model, ask yourself these five questions:
What do you sell? This might include services, digital products, physical products, courses, events, or a combination.
How do you sell it? Do you have a personal brand (yourname.com) or does your business have it’s own identity (businessname.com)?
Who do you sell it to? Do you sell business-to-business? (Like a photographer who runs workshops for other photographers.) Or do you sell business-to-consumer? (Like a photographer who offers newborn sessions to families.)
Have any of these things changed since you last updated your brand and website?
If you have a combination of business models, what's your most lucrative revenue stream? What's your favorite revenue stream? Are they the same? Has anything changed lately?
If the answer to the last two questions is "yes, things have changed," then you'll need to look at your 10 brand pillars to find — and fix — any disconnects.
03. Your audience has changed
When I was a kid, I loved an online game called HorseLand. If you wanted to give 9-year old me a memorable birthday present, you would have bought me a membership to HorseLand.
If you bought me the same gift for my birthday now?
Eh, not so much.
The same process is at play with your audience, whose problems, needs, dreams, and attitudes are constantly evolving.
If your brand hasn't kept up, your products and services are likely missing the mark.
This is a shame because you deserve to have a booming business and full bank account. And your audience deserves the help that only you can give them.
If you want to stay relevant, you need to talk to your audience on a regular basis. Here are five easy ways to make it happen:
Host in-person exit interviews with your clients after a project wraps up
Schedule informal get-to-know-you chats with people you’d love to work with.
Ask for specific feedback from your existing audience
Survey and segment your email list
Write personal thank-you notes to new subscribers. Bonus: invite them to join you for a get-to-know-you call.
I learned tip number 5 from Pat Flynn, who gave the keynote at a conference I attended.
Pat has a huge audience and it would be easy for him to coast. Instead, every month he emails a few new subscribers to personally thank them and invite them to chat. This helps him stay on top of the problems they're facing and craft new products and services to help.
Simple, yet brilliant.
04. You avoid giving out your business cards
We online business owners have two brains: rational brain and reptile brain.
Rational brain knows that your website is your #1 best sales tool. It's where you want your prospective customers to end up so that they can connect, subscribe, and buy.
Reptile brain is the saboteur. When your branding and website feels “off,” reptile brain smells blood. It will do whatever it takes to keep your future customers away.
Rational brain says things like…
“You have valuable things to offer and people want to hear from you. Let’s make it easy for them to find you by sharing your URL.”
“Don’t forget to bring business cards. You never know who you’ll meet!”
“Why don’t we email that influencer to see if she wants to do a joint venture webinar?"
Reptile brain says things like…
“You’re not good enough, so why bother? Your audience won’t read your copy or buy your stuff, so there’s no point investing in your brand.”
“You get tons of word of mouth business. You don’t need a decent website.”
“If people visit your URL they’ll realize you’re a fraud. The best thing you can do is lay low. Self-promotion is sales-y and obnoxious anyway.”
None of what reptile brain says is true, but if you’re experiencing a lot of resistance around your brand and website, it’s a sign that something isn’t right.
Take a breath, tell reptile brain to go sit down, and revisit your 10 brand pillars to figure out what the issue is.
05. It’s been more than five years since you updated your brand and website
If you’ve been going for more than five years, congratulations! According to The Washington Post that puts you in the top 50% of small businesses, which is something to be proud of.
I want you to keep succeeding, so here's the blunt truth:
Internet years are like dog years, and if you haven't updated your site since 2013 you're getting left behind.
The way we market, build an audience and sell changes at light-speed online. Not to mention the ever-shifting landscape of tech and design.
To put it into perspective, 5 human years is between 36 and 42 dog years, depending on the size of the dog.
That’s old for a dog and damn near ancient for the Internet.
Your clients and customers deserve the benefit of your experience. Don’t let an outdated brand and website stop that from happening.
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