When we began looking to create a demand generation position a few months ago, we used the hiring process as a chance to audit some of our digital offerings.
After working so hard to develop the publication side of IMPACT, I was concerned that the pendulum had swung too far away from the services we provide.
The woman we eventually hired to be our director of demand generation, Kristen Harold, said something that really resonated with me. She had been to IMPACT Live, and I had explained to her what our company did. We had several long working meetings as part of her interview process.
Then after all of it — and after looking closely at our site, she told me, “your website and what you do don’t match.”
Keeping IMPACT’s audience up to date on everything we do
On any given day, more than 35,000 people visit our website. Some come to read articles or learn about HubSpot implementation, while others come to register for events or webinars.
IMPACT publishes four podcasts per week. We also operate a Facebook group, send out a newsletter three times a week to tens of thousands of people, and run a huge marketing event each year.
We know it is a challenge to present so many offerings in a way that is user-friendly without being overwhelming.
After careful consideration, we began to feel that our publication side was outbalancing everything else. While we fully embrace the brand publishing model — putting out as many as two-dozen articles per week — we wanted to reset the balance to more fully focus on our role as teachers of They Ask, You Answer.
An increased focus on They Ask, You Answer
If you consider all that we do at IMPACT as a wheel, They Ask, You Answer is the hub. Everything else is a spoke coming off of it. This philosophy informs our publications, informs our services, and informs our events.
We truly believe that every business that adopts They Ask, You Answer will see the results that they’ve been hoping to see from their digital efforts. Businesses will build trust and create a trajectory for growth if they follow the principles that Marcus Sheridan outlines.
This is the core message of the homepage. It’s the first thing in our navigation. Even if visitors don’t hire us to implement it, we want them to understand They Ask, You Answer because it will change their business. It will change their life.
We repositioned a lot of elements on the website to say to our visitors, “Just get educated on They Ask, You Answer. Learn this. Dive Deeper.” As you navigate through our site, you will find a trove of free resources to help you on your journey.
Again, whether you hire us or not, we consider it our mission to spread the word.
The visitor’s journey
To the extent we can, we want to guide our visitors through our website. Of course, we want to have an easy and intuitive navigation system to allow people to find their way, but what we found is that some visitors weren’t getting the full message.
We want to be delivering the right messages at the right time.
We offer world-class services, but there’s a philosophy behind everything we do. If you’re seeing the services without knowing the philosophy, you’re not going to fully grasp our mission as a company.
We do things differently here, and there's a reason why we do things differently. We have gathered data from a decade of experience, and we have continually refined our approach as we’ve learned along the way. We know our model works, and we have the data and case studies to prove it — so we don’t want people just skipping that message to go straight into a content consulting agreement or a service offering.
We want our new learning center to reflect these values as well. We publish a tremendous amount of content. So, how do we organize it in a way that solves for our users and solves for our sales team (who uses the content on sales calls) — all while creating a very clean experience?
It’s been completely redesigned, and we’re going to keep iterating and improving upon it.
Over and over, we’ve seen a learning center as a core part of our most successful clients’ transformations as they implement They Ask, You Answer.
A learning center is an embodiment of teaching people, and reaching them wherever they are and whatever their needs may be. We wanted to make sure we were living the practices we ask our clients to implement.
If what we share is going to help people have better lives, then we should be doing it. I consider that a moral obligation.
I sincerely believe the world is shifting. There used to be a very proprietary mindset in business. Companies would hold tightly to their practices and shield their true selves from everyone outside the organization.
Whether stemming from egotism or anxiety, there was a tendency to present a perfect facade.
Now, I don’t believe that’s totally going away, but I do believe the world is changing. Now, when you see a company being vulnerable, you actually respect and trust them more because of it.
I believe culture, in general, is more accepting now. Social media has certainly played a part in that. Today, every politician, every executive, every thought leader — they’re all on Twitter, they’re all on Instagram. Along with insights into their professional lives, we get insights into their personal lives as well. The world is getting smaller, and people are becoming more open about their challenges.
At IMPACT, we’ve made mistakes, and we try to be open about what we’ve been through and what we’ve learned from it. To those who visit our website and read our story, we hope this makes us appear relatable, open, and trustworthy.
Our company is made up of nearly 70 people from all walks of life. We are engaged, bought-in, and earnest, but we stumble and misjudge just like anyone else. And we think our struggles and growth are part of our story.
As we think about helping people, being honest and open is always step one.
Balancing agency services and publishing
We’ve been doing brand publishing for years now, and this has taken various forms along the way. Yet at every step, we’ve seen it the same way: if we have knowledge that will help people, we should make sure we share that knowledge.
We’re living in a world where everyone is doing their research online. We want to put ourselves in a position to be found when we can be answering the questions people have.
But we’re also growing a business, and the more people who are aware of the brand, the more people who know the brand, trust the brand, love the brand, and consume the content of the brand — it’s only going to help the company grow.
If the majority of visitors to our site are not paying us money, that’s fine because we’re still growing the overall positivity of the brand.
We know that some of what we are doing might not necessarily pay dividends immediately, but we think we are doing the right thing, and we know we’re building an identity. We’re building relationships, and, the stronger those get, the more likely that they will bear fruit.
As a business, we’ve always been willing to sacrifice some short-term profits for long-term gains. We have experiments going on in this organization that are very expensive and that won’t bear fruit for a long time, if they bear fruit at all. But we still believe in them, and we know that growth costs money.
Doing the right thing, helping people, and living your values is a long-term play, which suits us just fine — because we’re in it for the long haul.
We hope our newly redesigned website better reflects what we do and what we believe, and tells the story of where we’ve been and where we’re going.