People buy from people
Prospects don’t buy from ‘companies’, they buy from people and as a rule, people don’t buy dull, boring people.
In our online world, it’s not possible to buy from a person as such, however we all buy with emotion and the way you make people feel through your online presence will have a huge impact on conversions.
Who doesn’t check someone out first before interacting with them? So, why is it that companies big and small so often come across as dull, corporate, out of date and uninspiring?
“Sadly this is too often the case with the 100’s of MSP websites I’ve researched and/or reviewed in the last 18 months.
I’m on a crusade to help change that image. Please join me …”
Have you ever considered how many people have visited your website to check out what you do and have disappeared into the ether straight away, as they’re put off by what they see? It’s the equivalent of the “I really must go and get myself a drink” moment at an event, when you’re talking to someone … except online, you have no idea who’s walking away and it happens much faster.
There are many parallels between meeting face to face and researching online. Don’t assume your online presence will not evoke the same (gut) feelings and first impressions that you do in a face to face environment.
“The back button is only a few pixels away from a visitor becoming a prospect and a customer worth $£10k/year.”
It’s time to get personal
This article aims to inspire a little – as I lay out before you, 10 sites, with personality – or at least elements of personality.
I’m hoping that by the end of this page – you’ll take a look at your own online presence and find ways that you too can inject some personality.
1) Create an immediate impact
Paragus IT absolutely creates an immediate impact. For readers in the UK – this screnshot is a bit ‘Marmite’ (you either love it or you hate it) however – for me – that’s a much better approach than leaving people feeling ‘meh’. Dividing opinion online or face to face is OK. You want to get a reaction.
The “above the fold” on this site creates a huge first impression. It absolutely has personality – you can’t avoid it.
Clearly it aims to appeal to frustrated tech users – people who feel like taking a baseball bat to their computer once in a while – and we’ve all been there. The main headline shows empathy – it is then followed up with a ‘don’t worry – we can help’ statement – which I really like.
It’s bold. It’s brave. It creates an impact and a statement and it’s VERY RARE MSP sites do this.
Whilst I personally don’t recommend sliders – the next slide screams: “Employee owned. We don’t succeeed unless you do.”
I’m fortunate enough to work with a lot of great consultants in our industry. I’ve yet to see anyone who presents themselves better online than Stuart Warwick.
I wanted to add this example for sole trader MSPs – and I know there’s plenty of you. Stuart is his business – he sells his expertise and so he is bold enough to put himself front and centre – because guess what – you’re buying ‘him’.
He makes his offer incredibly clear with both the headline and the short form copy underneath.
For me, it’s the perfect way to present himself – you’re drawn in, want to learn more and will continue to scroll.
Does your site create a brilliant first impression?
2) Create the perfect MSP homepage
That headline – “The perfect MSP homepage” is quite a claim isn’t it?
I’ve been reviewing websites for MSPs for a while now – I’ve done dozens in fact. There are very few I bookmark as shining examples sadly. The team at Ice Connect, here in the UK, have created something brilliant in my eyes.
The image above is a great start – but you do need to click through and look at the whole page and site to see it in all its glory.
It has all the component parts which make up a great home page.
It looks great – the coffee draws you in and makes you want to scroll. It has social proof galore – it has real people on the site and tells a story.
3) Get creative with your “Page not found”
If you’re looking to put your toe in the water when it comes to being a bit cheeky or tongue in cheek – your page not found page or “404 page” is a great place to start.
Few people will see it (if your site is structured correctly!) yet – you know it’s there.
There are plenty of articles which showcase geeky and fun 404 pages. I’ve picked one from our industry. The Slack page is a work of art.
You’ll see if you click through that the image above scrolls left / right when you move your mouse – it’s playful. Screenshot it – and it even goes black and white, which feels quite random.
Of course, making a change like this is not going to win your next deal, however it’s the thinking behind creating pages like this, which actually begins to set you on the right path to developing something unique and with personality.
4) Have the confidence to create a unique design style
Exosource are Montreal-based and their site is unique.
It’s essentially a single landing page. The various panels scroll left to right as you continue to scroll down.
It’s different. It’s unusual. It stands out and it definitely has personality.
For me, it shows two things – firstly, it’s possible to have a great looking site, which is a single page. Too often I see sites which have a gazillion pages – most of the totally unnecessary. Secondly, there is huge power in a site which looks cohesive. This has a great design style and whether you love it or hate it, it certainly gets you thinking and talking.
If you are an MSP without a good looking office environment – illustration is a great way to demonstration personality, in lieu of great photography.
5) Take a stand – have a point of view
I’ve never had any contact with the folks at Atlanta-based Ripple IT – but I hope to one day.
I dislike intensely the focus on bots, automation and removing all forms of human contact from business and so I asbolutely love what they are doing here.
I talk a lot about Human Customer Service within my Helpdesk Habits programme and about “remembering the humans on the end of the end points” and so the idea of “Humans First” really resonates with me. I bet it does with prospects too.
Ripple have decided to base their portfolio around people. Are you a CEO? Are you a Manager? Are you a knowledge worker?
They put human beings front and centre of their proposition and use the 💓motif throughout their copy too, which I also really like.
Ripple – great job – but if you’re reading this – drop me a line – there’s a couple of big issues with the site!
6) Have an about us page which tells your story
I’ve worked with this brilliant Melbourne-based company over the last 12 months and I love how they interact – their personality shines through every time.
The screenshot above doesn’t do this page justice. I’d encourage you to read it though. It contains a snapshot of their journey, all the way back to 2010. That itself isn’t unique, although MSPs should definitely learn from this technique.
What is unique however is the personality which comes through within the page.
As a prospect, you are drawn to the fact that this is a great company, doing great things – irrespective of whether what they do is right for you as a customer. That gives KMT an amazing head start when it comes to comparison.
This page talks about their work in the community, their key hires, their growth and expansion (clearly indicating success), their public awards and acknowledgements and their awards for being a great place to work.
Many MSPs have similar credentials – however they fail to talk about them.
You are what you are online and if you don’t tell the world – how will the world know?
7) Create a careers page which actually makes people want to work with you
So I’ve watched the very brilliant Colin Knox grow his team over the last 12 months and see the personality come through with Phil the Flamingo in most things which Gradient MSP release.
I was actually surprised not to see more ‘Flamingo’ on the website. I’m guessing they felt it not to be appropriate. I’m not sure I agree – I think it would make a good constant throughout their marketing message.
Gradient MSP are full of personality throughout their online presence – take note of how the team share on Linkedin – there’s always tremendous energy and colour – you can’t fail to be attracted to them.
So many MSPs rely purely on the business owner to promote the business – tricks are being missed here – don’t forget to coach and involve your team to share what you’re getting up to. As a business owner, you can then help to amplify.
I wanted to pick up on their careers page – as it’s brilliant.
They have been recruiting like crazy recently, following their $10m Series A investment round. They’ve created a careers page which genuinely makes you want to work for them. It’s engaging and stands out. It’s not corporate and combined with their culture page, gives them an edge over their competition.
Take a look at your careers page today. Is it as good as Gradient MSP’s?
8) Offer a ridiculous guarantee
Whilst I put the love for my family slightly above my love for the Tech Tribe, it’s a close call.
Nigel and his team exude personality. Everything he does is full of energy and enthusiasm and his biggest task is to convey that energy online, as he continues on his mission to extend the network.
Nigel offers a crazy guarantee, just below their sign up box. In a nutshell, he explains that they are going to make this sign up a no-brainer. It is completely risk free – you literally cannot lose.
He wraps that guarantee up with personality. He talks about tacos and quotes a completely made up stat and I love it.
“For some reason, there’s plenty of people who think it’s illegal to raise a smile in business. It’s not. It’s a breath of fresh air.”
How could you inject some humo(u)r – some smiles – some unique personality into your sales process?
Could you offer a crazy guarantee when people book a no-obligation chat with you? Might you send them pizzas or buy them a scuba diving lesson or donate to a local charity if they don’t find it useful?
Hmmmmm 🤔 ….
9) If a bank can show personality – you can too
First Direct was the original challenger bank here in the UK. When they launched on 1 October 1989 – they disrupted the ageing, dinosaur marketplace with phone banking – a concept unheard of until then. I’ve been a customer of theirs since 1990. I wouldn’t ever switch – because they’ve always delivered a brilliant service.
This is a tiny example of their creativity – some simple words in their footer. Could you start there with your site?
To get to where they’ve got to – they’ve had to scrap and differentiate and despite the fact they’re owned by HSBC – they’re still allowed to breathe – and show their personality.
Even if you’re owned by a larger group – try to ringfence what you do and let your personality shine through.
10) Do copy right (see what I did there?)
I’ve worked with the SuperOps team over the last 12 months and more recently participated in their Super Summit, to launch their service.
As a vendor – their site stands out – in the same way their products do. They are bright, agile and fast moving and set themselves apart from the older, more tired-looking, legacy services. Their website absolutely reflects that.
What they do really well is copy. Scattered throughout the site there are little touches, which make you smile and take note of what they’re doing.
In a blog post to promote the Super Summit – I wanted to pick up on this piece of copy – it’s really catchy and not what you’d expect – it draws you in – and that’s a really good thing.
Alongside – on the ‘often-dreaded’ proactive chat box – they’ve gone for a different approach too – and I LOVE THAT! Why do so many people leave a default message in those boxes? The team here has bothered to do something different and acknowledge the tediousness of these boxes with a genuine offer to help.
How often are visitors seeing your home page, being underwhelmed and bouncing right off, leaving £$ on the table every time.
Tiny changes and small regular investments in your online presence are some of the best marketing funds you can spend.
Take a good look at your site – or even better – get an independent review (maybe by someone like me?) and figure out if you’re making the most of your online presence.