Branding MECHANICS

Question 19

But First

Take a good look at your newly completed Brandwork doc, & ask yourself:

Has all the Brandwork we’ve done been made public?

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3 Big Ideas

Before you head back to your Brandwork doc, review some of the big concepts in this section:

  1. All the brand-defining work you’ve done only matters if it’s public.

    If you don’t translate the work you’ve done to Design Your Brand & Define Your Tribe into your messaging & the way you present your gym to the world, you won't see much return on that investment. We don’t want to keep these things secret. We want to hit people over the head with them.

  2. The homepage of your website should be simple, specific, & focused on non-members.

    If a person can’t skim your entire homepage in about two minutes, you need to cut things out. If you ask him to read too much, you need to edit & simplify. If you don’t make it abundantly clear what you want him to do first, you need to make it more obvious. The job of your website is not to give a new visitor a complete dissertation on the value of doing CrossFit. If they’re on your website, they already know enough. Nobody ends up on your website by accident. What they need to know is whether you’re the right gym for them.

  3. The job of your homepage isn’t to give every possible answer to every possible question.

    There will be plenty of opportunities to explain your training options to a new visitor. But only after you’ve hooked them, created the right amount of tension, & told them what you want them to do. There will be plenty of opportunities for them to get a sense of your amazing community. There will be plenty of opportunities for them to understand how good your coaches are. But only after you’ve inspired them to take the first step.

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All the Words

At this point, you’ve put hours of effort into defining, designing, & refining your gym’s branding. You understand the changes you’re seeking to instigate & who you exist to serve. You’ve thought about where your operations should dictate your marketing & where marketing should dictate operations.

But none of that work matters until you've made it public. If you don’t translate it into your messaging & the way you present your brand to the world, you won't see much return on that investment. We don’t want to keep these things secret. We want to hit people over the head with them.

Everything we do going forward will be about taking the work you’ve done & the principles you’ve learned, & executing on them. We’ll be going from the core of your brand to its extremities. Like all functional movements, going in any other order than we have, or skipping steps entirely, would have dramatically limited the power output of your branding efforts.

The first step in this process of execution is to take the work you did to refine your Brandwork in the previous Section & make sure your website, your social media bios, & your email signatures reflect the new direction. If a person finds you on Instagram, then takes a look at your website, & then gets a response to an emailed question, is what she sees at each step consistent?

It’s important that these public platforms are telling the same story, using the same words, & speaking to the same people. Of these three, your website is the most important but often the least effectively used. That’s where we’re going to spend our time in this session.

In the last Section, you whittled down your answers from Sections One & Two in pursuit of creating effective, simple language with which to articulate your brand. In this Section, you’ll make sure you’re displaying that language in a way that communicates who you are, attracts the right person, points her in the right direction, & inspires her to take the first step.

If it doesn’t do one of those things, you need to be unemotional about throwing it into the digital trash can.

If a person can’t skim your entire homepage in about two minutes, you need to cut things out. If you ask him to read too much, you need to edit & simplify. If you don’t make it abundantly clear what you want him to do first, you need to make it more obvious.

The job of your website is not to give a new visitor a complete dissertation on the value of doing CrossFit. If they’re on your website, they already know enough. Nobody ends up on your website by accident. What they need to know is whether you’re the right gym for them.

We want to focus first on the very top of your website, visible before a visitor needs to scroll. This section is known as “above-the-fold,” which is a term borrowed from print journalism. In the world of newspapers, it’s where they place the most important headlines & stories of the day. These are what they want a prospective reader to see as they stroll passed the stack of papers while in line at their favorite local coffeeshop.

Like with newspapers, the above-the-fold section of your homepage is where you need to put the most important bits of brand information. There are three specific things you want to include:

1) A minimal navigation bar

The homepage of your website should be entirely dedicated to individuals who are not yet members of your gym. Don’t give a visitor too many options right off the bat by sticking every possible link in your navigation bar. If he’s not yet a member, he doesn’t need to see the word “WOD," for example.

Keep it to less than four options if possible. The first could be a link to your pricing page & the second to a page with your schedule. The third could be a link to your content blog (not, mind you, where your daily programming lives), or a testimonials page. The fourth link should be the call-to-action you came up with in Section Three. If possible, make it a different color than the other navigation links or in the form of a button.

2) An image that is a direct visual representation of your core values & your tribe

The top image on a website is referred to as the “hero image.” This is the first image a site visitor has of your business, so we want to make it impactful. We want it to be representative of the person you’re trying to serve. They are the hero of this story.

In the case of our Community Gym, their hero image could represent the value of “inclusivity” with a photograph of a mother & daughter standing above a barbell, sweating & smiling.

Our Corporate Gym could represent the value of “expertise” with an image of a coach giving a tactical cue to a male, mid-thirties athlete in the bottom of a squat.

Keep the image quality high & avoid using sliders or animation of any kind.

Be sure to look at how the image displays on mobile devices before considering it final. Most new people will be visiting your site on their phone, so respect their experience.

3) Your tagline, one-liner, & call-to-action

Over the top of your hero image should sit your tagline, then your one-liner in smaller font. Below that should be a single button with your call-to-action.

This combination of words, in collaboration with your perfectly-chosen photograph, communicates almost everything a site visitor needs to know about what you do, who you exist to serve, & what you want them to do. All in less than 26 words. That’s why we spent so much time crafting them.

Most people aren’t going to read every word on your website. They’re going to skim them. But they’re much more likely to read the first 25 words. You’ve got to make them count.

As with your hero image, make sure everything can be easily read on both desktop & mobile. The words are more important than the image, so always default to making them clear if you need to make a change.

Now that you’ve got your above the fold section buttoned up, let’s turn our attention to the rest of your homepage.

I encourage you to think of everything below-the-fold as supporting evidence to the specific story you’re telling in what’s above-the-fold. In other words, as a visitor scrolls, you shouldn’t be giving her loads of new information. You can think of her scrolling as her going deeper. You want to reinforce the message, not broaden it.

There’s an understanding in marketing that it takes approximately seven exposures to a message before a person finally “sees” it. Every time you introduce a new idea, explain a new training program, use jargon, or display a photograph that contradicts a previous photograph, you are robbing yourself of an opportunity to have your message resonate.

There will be plenty of opportunities to explain your training options to a new visitor. But only after you’ve hooked them, created the right amount of tension, & told them what you want them to do. There will be plenty of opportunities for them to get a sense of your amazing community. There will be plenty of opportunities for them to understand how good your coaches are. But only after you’ve inspired them to take the first step.

Your website is not going to convince them of how incredible your gym is. Only their experience with your gym will convince them of that. The job of your website is to convince them that you might be the right place for them, that you are trustworthy, & that you are empathetic to the challenges they are facing.

Exactly what should come below-the-fold, & in what order, will vary depending on the specifics of your website & your own personal taste. For example, the next section a visitor sees as she scrolls might be the 3-4 sentences you wrote about your expertise in Section Two. Or it might be one of the tension-creating questions you’ve translated out of the problems you seek to solve.

There are no hard-&-fast rules here when it come to your Brandwork document. It’s not necessary to include on your homepage every single word currently in this section. Perhaps you only want to use three of the customer-facing questions. Perhaps you have a short video that articulates the gym’s “About Us” instead of text.

The only thing I would encourage is for you not be coy about inserting your call-to-action button liberally on the page. In addition to it living in the navigation bar & above-the-fold, you should try to repeat it three or four more times as the person scrolls.

The action you’re calling them to embark upon is the single most important step they’re ever going to take with you. Don’t be shy in reminding them exactly what it is you hope they’ll do.

Beyond that, keep a few principles in mind as you design or redesign your homepage. They’re the same principles we’ve been operating under from the beginning of this program. It would be a shame if we lost them now.

1) Make it about them

Too many gyms open their website with a celebration of some award they’ve been given or some proclamation of how great they are. Resist this temptation. Your website is not about you. It’s about where you fit into the journey that the visitor is currently on, or the one they hope to embark upon soon.

With each change or revision, be sure you make it more about them than about you. Remember that a new visitor is always asking herself: “What’s in it for me?” If something on your homepage doesn’t answer that question, get rid of it.

2) Be specific

Remember that your gym is not for everybody, so your website does not need to be for everybody either. The right person for your gym already believes & wants a few things. Don’t waste words by trying to convince the un-convincible. If a visitor thinks CrossFit is dangerous, your website isn’t going to win her over. (In fact, that person is unlikely to ever be on your website.) Use this space & this opportunity to speak to the right person who is ready to enroll in your specific journey.

3) Seek simplicity

Think of the homepage of your website like an elevator pitch. You’re getting into the elevator with a prospective client & you’ve only got three or four floors to explain what you do & to get them excited about learning more.

In the two minutes the elevator is going up, you could try to word-vomit all over them in the hopes that something sticks. But more than likely you’ll overwhelm them & they’ll be begging for the doors to open.

Or, you could say something like this instead:

“We’re a CrossFit gym that welcomes, encourages, & supports the whole family through fitness. We’ve been open for more than five years & we’ve been fortunate to help over 600 people lose weight & live more active lives. We’d love to see you at one of our classes this Thursday if you’re interested in learning more.”

Your website is the most valuable, non-human marketing asset you have. Obsess over getting it right as you do your daily programming, your coaching points of performance, & the cleanliness of your facility. It’s that important.

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Our Pretend Gyms

[ Full Example Gym Brandwork Docs here: Community | Corporate | Competitive ]

View Full Example Gym websites here:

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Time to Do Work

You have everything you need now to refine your gym’s website & messaging. In the next tab (📂), you’ll find a handful of Recommended Resources to help get you moving.

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Recommended Resources

Website Platform

You should know how your website works & how to update it beyond adding blog posts. You shouldn’t need to rely on another company to make changes because it means you will rarely make changes.

Your website should be so simple you don’t need an expert to operate it. You may want a designer to help you get it up & running, but you need to put the time in to own it from there. Only when you do that will you one day be able to effectively outsource the work.

Given all that, I recommend Squarespace.

I recognize that creating a new website & switching platforms is a daunting challenge. I’m under no illusion that most affiliates will feel so compelled. I hope you’re one of the few to consider it.

Your current website is likely built on top of Wordpress, which is a expansive & powerful platform. Designers & developers love it because of its flexibility. The thing is, you don’t need flexibility. You need ease-of-use. The cost of Wordpress’ power is that it can be an absolute pain-in-the-ass to operate. Which means you’ll either avoid touching it altogether, or you'll pay an expert to do it for you.

If you’re overwhelmed by the prospect of translating your Brandwork document into something tangible, I encourage you to consider whether creating a new website on a simpler platform might not be the best long-term decision for your gym.

It won’t be the most convenient option. But for those willing to put the work in today for the betterment of tomorrow, I’m confident it will be worth the effort.

Squarespace


Stock Photography

Let’s state up front that stock photography shouldn’t be your first choice when it comes to finding the appropriate imagery for your website. The quality & the selection may both be high, but the specificity will be low.

That said, if you find yourself stuck for good photography - if you don’t have access to a good photographer because of price or availability - then stock photography might be a good option, at least in bits & pieces.

The imagery on your site should do three things, two of which you can accomplish with good stock photography:

1) It should represent the core values of your gym & the people you are seeking to serve

If you are a family gym, for example, your imagery shouldn’t be of a shirtless twenty-three year old, her abs rippling in the late afternoon sun as she does overhead squats. That’s probably an awesome picture. It’s just an appropriate one.

You want to be sure that when the right person for your gym looks at your website, she isn't left wondering whether she belongs there.

2) It should signal to your website visitor that you are operating a professional operation

The reason for this is trust.

What happens when you go to a website that looks like it was built in 2004 & hasn’t been touched since? Some part of your brain wonders if this place still exists. The other part of your brain wonders whether their website represents how they run their business.

Good photography is a signal that you are vibrant, worth their time, & trustworthy.

3) It should give a peek inside your facility

People are scared of what they don’t know. That fear is often the biggest hurdle to their taking the first step. The photography on your website can reduce some of that fear by giving them a sense of the look & feel of your business.

If you are running a high-end gym in the heart of the city, for example, your facility is part of the allure. The right people for that gym want to feel like they’re getting a luxury experience. Your photography can show them that they will.

You can accomplish the first two goals with well-chosen stock photos. The latter, obviously, you can't.

If you can’t hire a photographer to capture what you need, here are a few stock sites worth checking out:

Paid:

Getty Images | iStock | Adobe Stock | Shutterstock

Free:

Unsplash


Mobile Site Monitoring

Most people are going to look at your website from a mobile device. This means you need to make sure your site looks as good there as it does on a desktop.

As with photography, it’s best if you’re able to actually do this yourself, with a phone in your hand. If you use an iPhone, grab a buddy who has an Android & look at it. Better yet, grab a few buddies & look at your site on as many different devices as you can.

If you want to save a little time - or if you simply don’t have any friends - here is a web-based site that will give you a sense of how your website is displaying on both iOS & Android devices:

Responsinator

You should also double-check to make sure your site is considered “mobile-friendly” by our internet overlords at Google:

Mobile-Friendly Test


Word Counter

This might seem like a silly one, but I’ve found it helpful to get a sense of whether a webpage has too many words. Remember that your homepage is not a white paper, it’s an elevator pitch. If you make a visitor work too hard to understand you, they’ll bounce before they ever figure out what you want them to do.

You want your homepage to be completely digestible in two to three minutes. Most people read approximately 200-250 words per minute. That gives us somewhere in the range of 400 - 750 words, total, with which to capture their interest.

Seeing the number of words your using might shock you into realizing how hard you’re making somebody work. Here are two options for you:

Bulk Web Page Counter | Copy/Paste Option

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Want to Level Up?

If you’re interested in a second pair of eyes on all the work you’ve been doing, I’d be happy to help & offer my advice. This is a great step to take before you dive into the process of revising your website - especially if you are paying somebody else by the hour to do so.

Once you sign-up, our collaboration will look like this:

  1. You’ll share your Brandwork Doc with me so I can take a look at the work you’ve been doing.

  2. With it, plus your current website & social channels, I’ll send you a detailed report on what I see working & not working, places you could revise, & suggested alterations.

  3. We’ll schedule one or two video chats or phone calls to discuss my notes & go over whatever questions you may have.

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