I was going to use the subject line, “two kidney stones, one well organized website,” because I’m back from my kidney stone vacation, that I shouldn’t call a vacation because for
- I secretly worked, just not so much on client things… which I didn’t feel at all bad about because of the 4mm kidney stone I was waiting to pass, and
- it felt like an oddly productive week, as though having experienced that amount of visceral pain was a box I had been meaning to check.
The recovering generalist (me) probably needs to go through a positioning gauntlet every six months. For a solid gauntlet tunnel, Jonathan Stark would be at the beginning and Philip Morgan at the end, with a couple cameos by some favorite people in between.
Jonathan would drill me on that laser focused positioning statement I still don’t have in the format of “I help x group with y and I’m different because z.” Then he would tell me to drop the “and’s”, and change the word “help” to something more accurate.
I help experts, er, I organize website content for experts with lots of content so that they can increase traffic and conversions, er not “and” can I use a slash? No? Embarrassed like I hadn’t done my homework, I’d get the second question: what’s your big idea? – the one that your “solar system” of content topics should revolve around.
Only slightly more prepared I’d say something like my big idea is maybe um that you should treat marketing activities like world-building, where your website is the home base. Jonathan, still unamused, as a final test, would make me go to a cocktail party and see if I couldn’t get people to have a rolodex moment telling them what I do.
Next would be Brad Farris. Brad wants me to shed all of the excess, like chiseling away at a block of stone until I become a modern positioning equivalent of Michelangelo’s The David. Brad tells me I will need to find service market fit. I am charging too little and spending too much time. Okay, service market fit, but how? Brad keeps it simple. By immersing myself in my ideal client’s world. He has only one question for me – what is my “ONE signature service” for the “one ideal customer”?
As I feel the walls closing in, I say something like, “website content recommendations” for “expert firms with lots of website content.” Wait. I remember Brad giving me an email intro before, “Jim has some rocket scientist algorithm that can help you identify the content on your site that matters, and help you to figure out how to showcase that content so that your site visitors find more of what you need.” As I read it back, Brad’s Zoom freezes, the still image of his expression too neutral for me to gauge his response.
Next up is Liston. “Hi Jim, show me your sales process and I’ll show you who you are.” Huh? The quality of Liston’s audio makes me wonder if I’m on a podcast rn. Patient and friendly, he firmly rephrases, “what’s your sales process, Jim?” To which I realize, without the service market fit, I couldn’t possibly design a cohesive sales process.
As the latest bi-annual existential positioning crisis crescendos, suddenly it’s just me and Philip, the backdrop not unlike his homepage’s hero image scene. Philip wants me to take some sort of hallucinogen via injection, to at least the third dermis layer of expertise and then start cowpathing my way down to a beachhead [book] [article] that dovetails nicely with what my “brand” means as uncovered in part by my point of view, that also acts as the “cognitive beachhead” for those who might consider my services.
With a nudge from Philip I try again:
What I do is like advanced SEO except instead of chasing a lot of often low quality traffic we use a lot of those tools to make your thinking clear, accessible, and smartly curated on your website for those you seek to serve, which happens to benefit your SEO and more than… SEO does.
You see, most of the traffic you can generate to any given page ends up leaving pretty immediately. That drop-off is a solid proxy for user-page incongruence. For your core pages, homepage, about, etc., it’s usually pretty okay. But for the other gazillion pages on your site, it’s like 95 to 99% drop off. Which if you think about it is hilariously bad, as you could add 1000/visits per month and only 10 of them would click through to second page.
The user almost never just wants what is on the one page and the website owner never just wants the user to read a page and leave, and yet the shitty status quo website is predicated on the idea that a user will pop on the page and pop off.
The user has no way to know when landing what else is valuable to them on the site. You would be better to focus on reducing drop-off through contextualization than increasing the mix of traffic from Google’s results pages (SERPs) which would simply further drive down traffic quality. Think you have a conversion rate problem now? Wait until you have a firehose of traffic.
So instead of manipulating the words on a page to fit your mental model of what you think an array of keywords you want to rank for should be, and then having ninety some percent of that traffic dissipate, you should instead be cultivating the contextual experience around that content so that 2, 3, 5x more actually stick around.
This is what I do. I pull users into your world. At first we do it at very carefully selected crossroads that will earn you the most leverage and value from the effort. These are the strategic entry points and key moments where they are qualified simply by their interest in those topics/pages and we create enough wayfinding and support that they opt to continue their journey with your thinking and website, instead of going back to more Google and Google result tabs. In that way it’s more like I help your website compete with Google than help you get visible on Google.
A couple more paragraphs later and then I wake up and look at my kidney stone in the jar next to all my high school sports medals, I sigh a deep sigh and go back to watching TWD on Netflix.
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