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Are you designing for yourself or your customers - Alan Berg CSP, Wedding Business SolutionsAre you designing for yourself or your customers?

When you’re designing your website or a marketing piece, are you designing things that you would personally like? Or, are you designing things that your target audience would like. Unless you are the same demographic as your target customer, you may be heading in the wrong direction. And, asking your friends and industry peers may just be looking for “confirmation bias” – learning that what you already know and feel is right.

Listen to this new 14-minute episode for some ideas on how you can learn to look at your site, and your marketing pieces differently, so you can get better results!

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Below is a full transcript. If you have any questions about anything in this, or any of my podcasts, or have a suggestion for a topic or guest, please reach out directly to me at [email protected] or contact me via textuse the short form on this page, or call 732.422.6362

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– Are you designing for yourself or for your customers? Listen to this episode. Find out what I’m talking about. Hi, it’s Alan Berg. And welcome back for another episode of the “Wedding Business Solutions Podcast.” For this episode, I wanted to talk about your website, and your marketing materials. Are you designing those for yourself or are you designing those for your customers? Very often, I’ll look at websites. I’ll see somebody online who’ll post, “Hey, my new website’s up. What do you think?” And they’re posting it in a group of similar businesses. So in a photography group for a photographer or a video or DJ, whatever. They’re posting it to their peers. And the challenge there is that in most cases, their peers are not their target market. Their peers are people just like them. And if you’re going after weddings, and you are in your, I don’t know, you’re in your late thirties or in your mid-forties just say. That’s not your target customer if your target customer is in their twenties and thirties.

So asking your peer group, “What do you think?” is not really the right group to be asking. When you do focus groups and marketing, you do focus groups of your target audience. You want a representation of your target audience there. Now, it’s okay to see what your friends think and like, but what you really want is, you really want the critical opinion of your target audience, and you want to know is your site easy to navigate for people outside of your industry because they have this “Curse of Knowledge”. The same curse of knowledge that you have, which is you know too much about what you do. So you’re not looking at your website the way they are. Or you’re not looking at your marketing piece the way they are. Very often, I’ll have somebody send me a proof of a marketing piece and they’ll say, “What do you think?” And if, this has happened so many times over the years. Be it a business card, and a traditional business card, not mine, but a traditional business card is two by three and a half inches. Two inches high, three and a half inches wide. My business cards are always odd sizes. They’re different because I want them to stand out visually not just because of the content that’s on it.

So they’ll send me this proof. And what I’ll do is I’ll pull it up on my screen, and I’ll take out a ruler, and I’ll make it two by three and a half inches on the screen. Because so often they’re designed on a big screen on a laptop or on a desktop, and they’re not designed to be seen at the size that they actually are going to be, and then the print is too small. Things are hard to read. There’s way too much on the card. There’s so much there for that particular size. But again, are you designing for yourself or are you designing for your target audience? It’s better now, but for many, many years, DJ websites, video websites, photography websites were black or very dark with a light print on them, which is really hard to read on a screen, and people are comparing your website to every website they visit not just to other people in your marketing category.

Do you want to look different? Yes. But not just for the sake of being different. You want to be different for a good reason. If you look at the websites that people are visiting. As a matter of fact, you can Google the 10 most popular websites out there. You can guess who they are. They’re going to be Google and Facebook, and Amazon and Reddit, and you know things like. That in our industry, in the wedding and event industry, it’s going to be The Knot, Wedding Wire, right? It’s going to be these. And if you look at all of them, what you’re seeing is something very similar, which is that none of them use a dark background with light text. It’s actually harder to read. It’s harder to follow especially if you have a lot of text on a site, you can look up any website usability expert, and they’re going to tell you, “Don’t do it.” So doing that just for the sake of being different is the wrong reason because it makes your site harder to navigate.

But if you are a DJ who has a dark website, and you ask another DJ with a dark website, “What do you think?” They’re going to say, “Hey, I like it.” That’s not your target audience. I remember years ago, when photographers all had dark websites, and all the men had dark websites. And I remember this one female photographer, and her website was white, and it was so much brighter to look at. It was so much easier to navigate. And it was funny because it really represented the difference in the demographic that the men were like, “Oh, look at my website. It’s dark. Look at this, photo show up great against the dark.” And I would always say to the photographers, “How many museums have you ever visited?” And they would say, “Yeah a bunch.” Say “How many have had black walls?” And the answer was none. Well, it was almost none. I did have somebody one time who sent me a picture of a museum in New Orleans that had black walls. It was a Voodoo museum. So you know, okay. It kind of fit the vibe over there. But the reality is, you look at the all the museums in the world, and you’re going to find most of them have neutral walls. Most of them are white walls, and let the artwork stand out.

It’s the same with your website. Let the photos be the color. If you look at the Knot, WeddingWire, Amazon, you look at any of these sites, the color comes from the images. Facebook gives us all the same template. It’s what we put into it that makes it look good or bad. We all start with exactly the same template, that hero image up at the top. And then the images that we put into whatever we put on the site. And why do you look at some people’s pages, and it’s like, “Oh, okay.” And then you look at others like, “Wow, look at that.” It’s not from the template. It’s from what was put in it. And that’s why I say with websites, you can start with a template. Just have to use it well. Because if you use it well, and put good content into it, two people using exactly the same template could end up with two completely different looking websites even though they started with the same basic framework there. The same opening spots that you get to put stuff in there, but you have to be designing it for your target audience. So you have to put images that are going to attract them, right? Not images that are going to attract you.

That’s why so many caterers have pictures of food because they’re looking at how each other is plating these dishes. And “Oh, look at that. Look how they plated that. Look how they set that table. Look whatever.” Well, that’s caterers with your eyes. Your Curse of Knowledge. You’re looking at that as opposed to the customer who’s coming, who is ordering catering because they’re bringing people together. People who are going to eat at an event that they are creating for fill-in-the blank reason. A wedding, a Quinceanera, a Mitzvah, a corporate event, a fundraiser, school event, whatever it is that that they’re doing, they’re bringing people together. So show happy people eating your food. And yes, you can show some food pictures but caterer websites that have all food are really attracting other caterers, because you’re not selling catering. You’re selling you as the caterer to do their event. I’m doing a presentation at Catersource this year.

And one of the things I’m going to say is when you decide that you’re going to go out to eat, do you choose a restaurant, or do you choose the actual dish that you’re going to eat? Which do you do first? Most of the time you say, “Let’s go to this restaurant.” Knowing the type of food that’s there. And even if you have in your head what you’re going to eat, when you get there, if they’re either out of that or they have some specials or some new items, you’re going to listen, and you might change your mind. You still chose the restaurant. So a caterer is selling the caterer not the dishes. Yes. The food could attract people, but people having a good time eating your food is a better picture. So show pictures that are going to attract your target audience. Show pictures that look like your target audience, right?

DEI is very, very important now. Diversity, equality and inclusion. If your audience looks like the people in the pictures, they’re going to see themselves, and they’re going to be more attracted to that. If you notice on TV commercials, you know not that long ago, you didn’t see mixed race couples or you didn’t see same sex couples, and you didn’t see same sex couples with children. Now if you’re paying attention, you’re seeing what the same thing you see when you look around you in the real world. Same thing on your website. Show people that look like the people you’re actually doing business with because well, they should be the actual pictures of people you’re doing business with, them and their guests, and what do they look like. And different parts of the country, and different target audiences. They’re going to look different. Show people that look like the people you’re trying to attract. Talk to them about the results that they want. Show social proof, testimonials from people just like them.

So if you’re doing corporate work show corporate testimonials of people talking about the type of results you’ve done for them, for weddings for Quinceanera, et cetera. For mitzvahs, same things. Just show testimonials that are contextually relevant to what you were talking about, and then of course ask them to take action. With your marketing pieces, and this is brochures, postcards, menus, price lists, any marketing piece you have. Anything you could hand to a customer. Are you designing it for them or for you? I am still getting from some people PDF documents that they want me to fill out by printing it out. Writing it out by hand. Scanning it and sending it back. Now I am not a digital native. I am a digital immigrant, but that frustrates me as much as it’s going to frustrate a 20-something.

Actually the 20-something doesn’t even have a printer. At least I have a printer. They don’t even have a printer. So are you designing it for whom? It doesn’t make it easier? Well, it will make it easier if you make it they could fill out their documents online. Certainly, but it may not be easier to create that but it’s going to be easier on both ends because if they have me type it out, they’ll be able to read it. If they have me hand-write it, it’s going to be tough. I do hand-write very well in all caps because I do crossword puzzles. So I guess it would kind of look like what? Maybe a ransom note if I wrote it out in all caps? Design it for your customer. Design that marketing piece not only for your customer, but on the technology that your customer’s going to be using to look at it. I’m not a big fan of PDF documents anymore because so many people are reading on their mobile devices.

So I give people an option of seeing it online or printing out a PDF because if they’re looking on their phone, they can read it right there if they want to print it. And I have very few PDFs anymore. Most of mine are, actually, maybe the only one I have anymore is my speaking introduction where someone might be at an event. You might want to have it printed out. So it’s readable on your phone. If somebody, it is very often somebody comes to me five minutes before I’m about to go on stage, and they say, “Hi, Alan. My name is so and so, and I’m going to be introducing you. Is there anything you want me to say?” And I’ll have them pull out their phone go to because that’s a page I created on my website, and the first thing you’re going to see there is my speaking introduction. I say, “Hey, take this, go over there read through this three times out loud, and then get on stage and read it. It’s all ready for them.

Now if they had prepared, there’s a link at the bottom of that that says, “If you would like to print this in an easy-to-read font, click here”, and it says PDF, and you click and you can print a PDF. It’s in like an 18-point font. So if somebody forgot their reading glasses or the light’s a little bit low, they can still read it. It’s done for the way that someone’s going to be using it. And where in the technology they’re going to be using it. Creating it for the user not for me. Easier for me to just leave it on the website, and leave it alone. Or just create the PDF and leave the PDF, and you know, so what if they can’t read it on their phone? It’s not going to help me, and it’s not going to help them design it for the customer.

So is your website designed for you, and your friends or is it designed for your target audience? Are your marketing pieces designed for you and your friends or are they designed for your target audience? Think about that. The next time you take a look at your website, look at it on your mobile, right? Not just on your desktop or laptop. Look at it, but really go through, and try to click on the different pages, and then look around to the most popular websites, and see if it’s, remember “Sesame Street?” ♪ One of these things is not like the others ♪ Yours should not be the thing that’s not like the others. It should feel consistent with the websites that they’re visiting but it should feel like you in terms of the content. In terms of the social proof. In terms of the images and the text. In terms of the calls to action. So are you designing for you? Are you designing for your customer? Take a hard look and also, do this with some friends. Take a look at theirs and see if you can give some feedback to each other about how maybe you could improve the user experience for the real end user, which is not you. Thanks for listening.

I’m Alan Berg. Thanks for listening. If you have any questions about this or if you’d like to suggest other topics for “The Wedding Business Solutions Podcast” please let me know. My email is [email protected]. Look forward to seeing you on the next episode. Thanks.

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