By John Eberhard

I am now in the process of modifying a website that is completely generic. It is for a local business, and it has service pages for all the services the business offers. It has great graphics and well written copy (text) and an interesting design. It has ways for the viewer to contact the business.

But this particular website is a complete failure. It has a common failing that I see on lots of websites today. It is completely generic. It has no pictures or videos of the business, its personnel or its products. It does not even give the names of the founder or owners or even any of the staff. It does not tell the story of the business or what makes it unique.

This particular business is in a very competitive market. The prospect can choose from many different similar businesses for the product or service they need. So an important question to ask is – does this website give the prospect reasons why they should choose THIS business over the many others? If not, the website is a failure, no matter how fancy the design or graphics are.

I have seen many businesses fall into this trap with their websites. And the web developers made a serious mistake by not including any personalization on the website. For example, I have seen many healthcare practice websites, where there are no pictures of the staff or the building or the waiting room. Just beautiful generic pictures of dentistry or chiropractic or veterinary activity, but none of the actual activity of THAT practice.

So what DO you need to have to personalize a website?

  1. Pictures of the business, including staff, owners, the building or buildings, and the products or services being delivered.
  2. Pictures of happy clients.
  3. Videos of #1 and #2.
  4. Text that tells the story of the business, how it got formed, and what makes it unique.
  5. Testimonials from happy clients, in text form or video form.

I designed a website once for a dentist, and they had one of their staff walk around with a digital camera and take lots of candid shots of the staff interacting and doing their jobs. And they were able to capture lots of pictures of their people smiling, having fun, even goofing around. It really captured the personality of the practice and made it very appealing. And it cost them nothing. They didn’t have to hire an expensive photographer.

This is not to say that anyone could do that, as you have to have a knack for taking pictures and catching people in interesting ways. And it’s not to say that you shouldn’t hire a pro photographer because it will likely be well worth the money spent on it.

The point is you have to give the prospect reasons as to why he should choose your business. If your website and your message is so generic that you could take off the name of your business and substitute a competing business and not have to change anything else, that is a problem. Personalization and communicating the personality and culture and philosophy of your business can be a powerful reason for them to choose YOU.