The Secret to Effective Web Design Marketing

Michelle Hunter by Michelle Hunter

Do you speak your client’s pain language? Understanding the problems potential clients struggle with and talking about them effectively is the secret to marketing your web design services.

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There’s something compelling about a good problem. When someone begins to share their troubles, we naturally lean in and listen. We connect with the emotion of the situation and quickly remember a moment in time when we felt similarly or faced a nearly identical obstacle. What does this have to do with web design marketing? Keep reading.

Problems can both drive the dialogue between friends and give fuel to the fire of gossip. They create the drama in movies and the plotlines in novels. Nothing brings us together as effectively as a shared problem or challenge. Nothing drives us apart as quickly as an unresolved issue we can’t overcome together. 

Problems are the secret to effective marketing because they have the power to command attention, grab us emotionally, and engage us intellectually. 

Many web designers have difficulty marketing their services because they simply don’t know what to say to capture attention. They haven’t learned to leverage the power of problems and speak the pain language of their target audience. 

Are you familiar with the concept of “love languages” inside relationships? The basic premise is that each of us perceives love and expresses love in one of five different general ways… and deep relationships are built on an understanding of and an ability to communicate love effectively using these languages. 

I believe marketing is driven by a similar construct I call a “pain language” – we connect best with potential customers when we speak their pain language and connect with them around a problem causing them grief in some way. 

Let’s look at some of the common problems experienced by web design clients, so you can modify your web design marketing and communicate with them using their preferred pain language. 

Problem → Poor Revenue Generation

There are really only a few common problems that prompt a website design project. One of these is simply poor revenue generation. The current website fails to convert visitors into customers and, as a result, the revenue generated by the site is low. 

The pain of this issue is pretty easy to recognize. Here are some ways it is expressed: 

  • My website isn’t generating enough (or any) leads. 
  • We have lots of traffic, but we don’t get many sales.
  • I’m not sure what this website is actually doing for me. 

Some potential clients might talk to you about conversions or give you statistics about revenue generation, but most won’t. They will simply talk around the issue of revenue – hinting that things aren’t working well for them in terms of new clients and more sales. 

This client’s pain language is money – or rather the lack of it. You will market effectively when you focus on ways to increase revenue generation inside the context your client is using. 

Acknowledge the problem and confirm how it feels before talking about possible solutions or the work you do.  Demonstrate your ability to speak their language. 

Your website isn’t generating enough leads? That’s frustrating and it directly impacts your bottom line. Let’s look at how your web design supports lead generation. There are probably some things we can do to get you more leads – and more money.

Not sure what your website is doing for you? Hmm… that sounds like an issue to me. Your website is an important part of your sales funnel. I bet you’re missing out on some sales. Let’s take a look.

See what I’m doing here? I’m connecting with people at the problem level – speaking their pain language – and then moving the conversation forward. The problem (and the underlying pain language of money) is at the center of the conversation.  Going forward, I’ll want to highlight the ways my work increases revenue generation and offers a return on investment.  This connection is the secret to effective web design marketing.

Problem → Security Risks + Functional Issues

Security risks are a huge concern. We share a tremendous amount of personal information over the internet and hackers are constantly looking for ways to breach site security and harvest data for their own personal gain. 

Customers and consumers are driven by a desire for safety and security. The world feels like a threatening place, giving people incentive to be hypervigilant about protecting their information, livelihood, and personal property, giving businesses added incentive to secure their websites and protect consumer information.

Along with security concerns, functional issues are at the heart of many web design projects. We rely on technology to connect us with customers, process sales, and deliver the content we create. We use the web to inform, educate, entertain, and engage → and we count on every widget, plugin, and tool functioning properly to create the right experience for our web visitors. 

When a potential customer is struggling with a security or technology issue, they may speak about it clearly, but they will often communicate in vague terms such as: 

  • Our competitor was hacked. Are we at risk?
  • We have problems with people leaving before they finish buying. 
  • We’d like to add video to our website, but it’s so time-consuming.

More importantly, technology and security issues are sometimes buried under a layer of website shame. Clients don’t update their site content because the technology is difficult to navigate. They wonder and they worry about site security but simply hope for the best rather than talk about the issues. 

They make business decisions based on current capability because they simply can’t imagine all the things updated technology would make possible for them.

This is the pain language of missed opportunity and a sense of limitation that can’t easily be overcome. Your web design marketing will be most effective when you help people explore possibilities with confidence. 

Address the (often unspoken) problem and confirm how it feels before talking about future possibilities.  Demonstrate your ability to speak their language. 

  • Security threats are increasing, which is concerning for your business. You need reassurance that both you and your customers are safe online. Let’s explore the options. 
  • When your website technology limits your ability to market your business, you feel trapped. I understand, and I can help. Let’s look at ways to make video easy to maintain for you and your team. 

Your goal here is to get your potential client thinking about a future without technology or security issues. Once the issue is resolved, what is possible for the business? This is the value your work provides – a clear path to a future without technical issues. Connecting around the pain of technology allows you to explore that value together. 

Problem → Attracting the Wrong Customers

Businesses change over time. Entrepreneurs gain experience and shift their target audience. Larger companies add product lines or shift their business model, moving into new markets as they do so. While some website designs grow with a business, most do not. 

As a result, your potential clients might feel the pain of attracting the wrong type of customers to their business – people who were perfect clients for the business a few years ago, but don’t fit into the model now. 

The only thing worse than no lead generation, in my opinion, is a steady stream of low-value leads that are poorly aligned with your business. You manage them, follow up with them, and try to sell to them… only to be disappointed when they don’t have the right needs, budget, or client fit. This pain is frustrating and sometimes demotivating for your clients. 

Here’s how it’s often expressed: 

  • My website generates a lot of leads, but I’m still not making sales. 
  • I don’t share my site with people. It doesn’t match what I do. 
  • We just can’t seem to break into our target market. 

This problem is ultimately a blow to entrepreneurial confidence. Nothing triggers imposter syndrome as quickly as a steady stream of leads you can’t convert into clients. Nothing makes a leader question his or her expertise like a struggle to step into a target market. 

Attracting the wrong clients can feel like an authority problem, when it’s actually often a website design problem. The client’s site doesn’t properly reflect his or her expertise. You can fix that, right? 

To connect with a client around this problem, acknowledge how the client feels and share your insight to help him or her understand the underlying issue at play. 

  • Your website is generating a lot of leads? Has your business changed a lot since your site was designed? It’s possible your website doesn’t reflect the value you now deliver to clients. That disconnect means your site is generating the wrong leads. 
  • How is your website supporting your efforts to break into this target market? I know you’re good at what you do. But if your website design doesn’t properly reflect your expertise, people won’t see the value in working with you. 

By affirming your potential client’s expertise and highlighting the importance of web design to overall marketing, you communicate a hopeful message. You present an alternative to their imposter syndrome and position yourself as the best person to help your potential client achieve his or her goals. 

Speak the same pain language as your clients. 

Language – both spoken and unspoken – drives human communication. Your client’s problems are clues you can use to understand their felt needs and the most important issues they struggle with in relation to your work. Communicating using a shared pain language builds connection and trust… ultimately leading to more opportunities for both of you.

Elevate your web design brand by implementing a custom marketing strategy and offering copywriting services to your clients. Talk to me about becoming a strategic partner.