Every business is in the business of trust: building it among customers, scaling it to capture markets, and maintaining it to fuel growth. That’s a tremendous challenge in a digital world full of bad news and fake news. How do brands break through the noise?
Transparency is the answer. Transparency shrinks the distance between a brand and consumers and builds trust. Consumers gain an authentic window into who you are, what your brand is about, and the value you provide. Transparency also helps scale trust at a faster rate.
It’s All About Access
If someone asks me how to become more transparent, I give a one-word answer: Access.
Today’s consumers crave access to the brand and the people behind it, as well as the products themselves. Why do people wait in line for the latest iPhone? Because they want early access to Apple’s innovation in particular — not just a smartphone. They want that connection to the brand.
You can provide access to your customers by being transparent about what’s going on in your company, say, from an employee’s perspective. Consider peppering your social feed, company blog, or email newsletters with employee profiles that reveal their insights into customer needs and how they meet them or offer tips on how to get the most out of your product.
To be successful at transparency, you need to know the difference between transparency and over-sharing, which requires calculating the risk versus reward for each sharing opportunity. One caveat here is that the calculation depends on the context. It changes and evolves.
For example, the idea of talking about the mental health struggles of one of your executives in 2015 would not have met the criteria for transparency. But today, when movie stars and Olympic athletes talk about their mental health challenges, it might. We should re-ask an old question and put it through today’s risk-versus-reward calculation.
How to Scale Trust
Everyone in the world craves empathy, the feeling that someone else understands you. To scale trust, you must first scale empathy, and technology is the vehicle to do so. By using technology to understand and leverage information about customers and prospects, you can gain insight and create empathy. Of course, data can be misused, and we’re right to be concerned about that. But a dashboard that provides insights using quality data and the latest best practices in analytics can help overcome that challenge.
On the marketing side, you can scale trust using influencers that have already established trust among their followers. Influencers could be celebrities with massive followings and reach; thought leaders who have built trust and rapport with a focused audience over time; or a subject-matter expert — someone who is “in the weeds,” doing the work, within the company as an employee or outside, as a customer.
Subject-matter experts can be tremendously influential because most of today’s consumers don’t trust a brand or a logo. They trust the people who work for the company and represent the brand. They offer a peek behind the curtain — in a word, transparency. This can even work with celebrity influencers.
Let’s face it: Nobody really believes that LeBron James drives a Kia. When today’s consumers see LeBron in a commercial for Kia, they immediately know he is getting paid to endorse that product. The ad isn’t effective because you think, “Hey, LeBron James drives a Kia.” Instead, it comes down to, “LeBron James associates with Kia as a brand because they have principles that he believes in as a dad, as a leader.” He is lending Kia his authenticity.
The Future of Marketing Is Relatability
John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile, has taken a very transparent approach to marketing. He shares his unfiltered thoughts across multiple channels. He replies to social media posts, he makes himself available at events, and he does ask-me-anythings (AMAs) online. He even takes transparency a step further by sharing his personal life and hobbies through a Facebook Live show where you can watch him cooking at home. That access into who he is at his core not only builds trust but also humanizes his brand. I couldn’t tell you if the CEO of my carrier is male or female, yet I can say with some certainty that the leader of T-Mobile cares about his customers. I understand his values, which allow me to connect with him at a deeper level.
Let’s face it: The Field of Dreams notion of marketing — if you build it, they will come — is broken, if it ever worked in the first place.
If you build a website, if you launch a new social channel, if you have a new email newsletter, no one is going to embrace it simply because it exists. Consumers are smarter than they’ve ever been.
Not only do they have more access to information, but they also have more channels to decide how they’ll consume content.
Transparency is a way to leverage this access — actually embrace it — to answer the question, “Why should I trust you?”
Transparency will play a huge role in the future of marketing and how you connect with consumers in the digital world. Targeting and segmentation will still be vastly important, though, and hyper-personalization is changing the game enormously.
Editor’s Note on Feb 13, 2020, : This post was originally posted on May 3rd, 2019 but since surveyed bureau’s, speakers and visitors to my speaker website on what they liked and didn’t like and I monitored the traffic closely. I’ve included some notes and lessons I’ve learned over this last year at the bottom of this blog post that I believe will add a lot of context to this post and why I made such big changes. With that being said I migrated to a different platform and theme to leverage these lessons but interestingly enough I leverage almost all of the lessons included in this blog post I just tightened up my blog copy, my SEO focus and like most things, I’m always tweaking long after I press the damn button.
I proudly launched this site on May 1st, 2019, after many months of research and design. Although I’ve had a speaker landing page within my blog site iSocialFanz.com it always felt forced and too busy as I planned the launch of the next phase of my speaker business, which included announcing that I signed with Michelle Joyce Speaker Agency. I knew I would need a website dedicated only to my public speaking business.
On top of speaking full-time, I’m also a daily content creator, and I knew this site would need to be different from past websites I’ve created. It would need to have more of a niche focus towards speaker bureaus, event planners, and associations looking to hire speakers rather than fans of my content.
With this as my goal, I set out to review 100+ professional speaker websites with three areas of focus:
Video without compromising speed.
So with all this in mind I set out six months ago to review 100+ “professional speaker” websites looking for common themes, things I liked, things I didn’t like. I planned on narrowing it down to 5 or 6 websites that I could use as inspiration for my site but settled at 10.
In full transparency, I’m friends with most of these speakers, but that didn’t influence this list. For me, I focused on speakers that came up well in search, had an excellent reputation amongst my peers, those that I want to share the stage with, and speakers most commonly found on speaker bureau websites.
After all my website reviewing was complete, I was amazed at how many common themes existed amongst the sites that I liked the most.
Here are a few of those universal themes that you’ll notice in the examples below:
Video element at top of the homepage
Bold use of colors
Dynamic bright photos
Infinite scroll telling a story as you scroll
Speaking is the primary focus with other products or services tilted towards event planner
Strong statements with strong branding across every page
All but 1 URL was firstname+lastname (Andrew Davis too common + akaDrewDavis)
In no particular order here are the 10 sites I used as inspiration to launch this speaker site:
Besides the obvious of him being a mentor, in the same speaker agency, and using the same platform, his site hits a homerun when it comes to my three areas of focus. I especially like how each page allows the user to select to watch a video, but the video isn’t loading as an embed, therefore not sacrificing page speed.
The only thing more dynamic & fun than Mike’s website is his style and designer hair. Mike’s crisp use of photos and color contrast screams FUN! While his use of white space and testimonials makes the site feel very professional and insightful
This website gave me my most favorable first impression. Clint’s website is bold thanks to his excellent use of video, clean photos, and an eye-popping contact form design. And it’s no wonder he focused on speaker video has he also has the coolest speaker reel I’ve ever seen!
Kindra is a master storyteller, and her site screams storytelling with bold colors, great use of fonts, and video in many places but not too much video footage. I love the simplicity as each page has a clear purpose and value for her speaker brand.
Professional, simple, and creative as Phil does a fantastic job of using bold colors and bright photos to align with his branding. I also love how he presents his books using the contrast of colors with the three books covers, making them jump off the screen.
She does everything, and her site has everything, but it doesn’t feel busy as the infinite scroll tells a bold story. The site highlights her tv show, her books, her podcasts, and many other products, but it’s clean and dynamic, so it doesn’t feel overwhelming yet covers everything!
Many refer to her Erin as my twin as we are both passionate, loud, and fun, and her website represents that and more. I love her video across the top with the site navigation overlay on the video as it’s bold yet done with a simple, clean format.
Andrew is the best speaker I’ve ever seen on stage and I’m thankful to call him a friend and mentor. As for his website, I love how simple the navigation is, and he does a great job of sharing his accomplishments with pictures but in a fun storytelling way. Drew brings you along on his journey rather than throwing his awesomeness in your face.
This pint-sized fun Aussie is a close friend of mine, and for every ounce of fun, she has a matching ounce of elegance on and off stage. Her use of whitespace combined with the gold branding and clean edge to edge videos have her site capturing your “attention” while also giving you a sense of luxury love.
The author of Iconic has a site that screams experience and wisdom, combined with bold, dynamic photos and graphics. As you scroll, you can almost hear and feel Scott’s iconic voice and stage presence.
One last lesson I’ve learned in this process of running one company website for 10 years then attempting to separate part of my business to another website is that you won’t know what works till you go live and you have to be willing to separate the content and traffic focus within everything you post. A couple of other things I’ve learned since I wrote this blog post in 2019 that I feel everyone can learn from in 2020 are below.
What to remember when creating your Keynote Speaker Website:
there are many things to factor in with video including how it looks on mobile, the load time if you embed too many videos, value of linking to YouTube vs hosting the video on your own website and wherein the event professional journey in learning about you do you want them to experience your video.
Be Yourself but
Make sure the event professional or speaker bureau agent that is visiting your site has a chance to get to know who you are and your first impression doesn’t send them running or the colors of the fonts you use are too hard to read making them give up before they get to know your favorite colors.
Calendar and Events are great but
I loved the idea of having a calendar of events I’m speaking at on my website but so much changes in the speaker world and updating your calendar to remove events you didn’t speak at or events in the past is never top on the list. There’s nothing worse than seeing a website with “Top 2019 keynote programs” in 2020 or a list of upcoming events that’s 3 months old. I decided it’s better to discuss events from prior years but avoid dated references the best I can.
Testimonials are great but
When I first launched this website I got excited and put lots of testimonial quotes on every page within each speaker program and some of the feedback I received was after the second or third testimonial we move on and if testimonials aren’t directly related to the program or speaker landing page it provides more hesitation than validation.
Speaker SEO and Google Ads are the wild wild west but
If you dive into SEO and Google Ads with keynote speakers you’ll notice how many are targetting ads against industry leaders, common keywords and even highjacking misspelled search of celebrity speakers. I’m a data geek and track my website traffic and content keywords using tools Buzzsumo, SEMrush and Moz.com and I can tell you the thing I’ve learned the most is focus on what you want to be known for and how you want to be discovered because if you worry about how your competition is targetting search and advertising there’s a good chance you’ll go down a dark hole.
New YouTube Channel Dedicated to Virtual Presentations