Practicing what I preach
Regular readers of the Hughes monthly blog will have noted a slight visual update in my website. Actually though, the more significant change is in the ‘back office’, with this allowing for easier updates and for the site to be better optimised for organic search.
Like many professionals, I’m great at telling clients and potential clients just what it is they’re doing wrong in their business, when actually I don’t quite have my own house in order. So yes, I had let things slip a bit with my own website, and decided it was not before time that I invested some of my hard-earned cash in some development work.
I’ve also used the opportunity to jump ship to the agency I partner for much of my digital and non-digital client work, and it’s them that have created the new site and now host it for me – the very excellent Navertech based in Thurso.
This exercise has really confirmed three key areas I often talk to clients and potential clients about, so what better time to flag these up than now…
Continually develop your website
In one of my monthly comments towards the end of last year, I shared my frustration about a client who, having made a reasonable investment in their website, wasn’t prepared to put any more development time and money into it – and this despite the fact that it had some very obvious flaws (in particular around organic search).
To cover all the reasons why it’s necessary to continually develop a website – in particular adding new content – would turn this monthly comment into a 500 page e book. But a few headline facts worth noting now would have to be around new content to help ensure engagement and, crucially, to help organic search results. And with ever-changing rules in search engine algorithms, means that what form your new content takes and how you deliver will be different today than what it was a year ago – e.g. if you don’t already have video on your site and on a You Tube channel, then probably worth thinking about it (and quickly).
Don’t change your visual identity for the sake of it
If you have been to my website before, then you may well be thinking that the recent visual changes to it are fairly minimal. Why haven’t I changed it more? Because I haven’t changed my offer, my values, my positioning in the market etc. Therefore the Hughes Consultancy brand is just as it was before, and any changes to the look and feel of my website have been more to do with ease of navigation and the site displaying in the optimum way for the device you’re currently viewing it on.
Perhaps my single biggest bugbear in the industry I work in, is when I hear the word ‘rebrand’ and in the context of a new logo, web design, or any other manifestation of a brand’s visual identity. Absolutely fine when the brand wants or needs to change its offer and / or positioning in the market etc., but why signal change with a new visual identity when everything else you’re doing stays the same? For those that have made that mistake – and there have been many – it just results in customer confusion and a section of brand equity washed down the drain.
As I often say to the world around me: branding isn’t about design; it’s about strategy.
Pick a digital partner who’s proactive
As I’ve suggested in previous blog posts and as could be imagined by pretty much anyone reading this, being a brand and marketing consultant in the age we live in requires a high degree of ‘knowing a fair bit about all brand and marketing topics, issues and disciplines’ – albeit often just on a fairly macro level. There are some specific areas I very much specialise in (brand tone of voice being one), but overall the strength of my offer is having a well-rounded and relatively up-to-date knowledge of all things brand and marketing.
What this position means though (and think of it, in brand terms, as my positioning in the consultancy market…), is that I’m highly reliant on a whole lot of people I can turn to for specialist advice. Client needs help with link building as part of their SEO strategy and an exhibition stand to be installed at a trade show in London next month? No problem; I know people who can deliver both.
That being the case, then earlier this year I started to ask myself why the company which designed my own website and hosted it, only ever contacted me when I was a day over in settling one of their invoices. You’d think, wouldn’t you, that if you had a brand and marketing consultant as a client, then you’d be on the phone or sending emails to them every other week with offers to ensure their site was cutting-edge. How many calls or emails to that effect over four years or so? One. And when I had an issue or question I wanted to raise, it took repeated attempts to get any sort of response at all.
So in a world of fast-changing rules on digital and with digital, in all its many and varied forms, being central to any brand and marketing strategy, pick a partner who’s on the ball. And if right now your current one isn’t and doesn’t show any sign of waking up, then take my lead and jump ship.
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