Author: Danny Peavey

Danny Peavey is the owner of Story Sells. He loves to help companies drive more sales using the power of story. If you feel stuck in your messaging, sales, website, or marketing strategy, then schedule a free consultation with Danny today. He'd love to help!
productized service

Productizing your service: Should you sell your service like a product?

Service providers aren’t second-class citizens regarding positioning, packaging, and selling their “products.”

Your service business CAN be sold like a product if you productize your expertise.

This is the practice of productizing your service.

Whether you productize (or not) depends on how custom your service offering is.

If you lead with an extremely bespoke, custom, nuanced, rigorously specialized service, then I would recommend you don’t productize.

You’re an artist: you want to slow down, take in every detail, and deliver an exceptionally well-thought-out deliverable.

If you are a restaurant, I’d compare you to the chef’s special: it’s crucial to deliver a custom offering to your guest and tailor it to their liking.

With that said, it might be wise to productize an initial offering to get clients in the door so they know what it’s like to work with you.

Even the chef’s special has premade ingredients. 😃

On the other hand –

If your services firm has a tried and true deliverable you sell every time, I highly recommend considering a productized service.

You can still be a high-end restaurant – but you’re the $25 wild-caught fish dish. Your deliverable is still high quality. It’s still “custom,” but it’s been meticulously created and productized for a particular outcome.

So in closing, I want to give love to the service providers. product marketing is indeed a craft dominated by SaaS, but you service providers deserve to win more deals too. 😊

How To Find The Best Web Design Company Near You

Everything you need to know to find the right web design company in your area.

Building a new website should be an exciting process – whether you’re revamping an existing site or finally bringing your brand online, you’re taking a crucial step to connecting with the communities that need to hear your message. But with the excitement of launching your site also comes some responsibility. First of all… where do you even start?

If you’ve never launched a website before, it’s easy to get confused or feel like it’s impossible to weed through all the information you need to get started. But we know the value of a web design, so we’ve gone ahead and done some of the homework for you. 

Scroll down to learn: 

  • Services provided by a web designer
  • How to tell if you need web design 
  • How to tell if a web design company is good or not
  • Red flags for a web design company
  • The best web design companies in the U.S. 

Services provided by a web designer

So – why do you need a web designer in the first place? Bringing your brand online means opening up your services to a whole new audience.  But in order to properly tell your story and connect with your ideal clients, the website you’re creating needs to be uniquely in line with your brand and messaging. 

Some web design agencies offer more than others. You can work with a provider who; designs your website, takes the content you provide and plugs it in, and maybe does some maintenance over time. Basically, they’re finding the right visual feel and bringing your brand to life online with eye-catching designs and unique, easily-navigable layouts. 

In other cases, web design agencies can take on a lot more, including helping to strategically build your content, managing the project, and developing ongoing content to ensure you’re reaching out to (and retaining!) new clients. But, first thing’s first… 

How to tell if you need web design 

Put simply, if you’re building a website, you need web design. The question is really how you want to approach it. There are ways to do this on your own, with plenty of build-your-own-site offerings out there. A do-it-yourself option is okay if you’re working with an extremely limited budget and have some degree of know-how when it comes to design and layout. 

You’ll want to turn to a web design company near you if you’re looking for a more elaborate website with crisp design and strategic content. In the best websites, the design is part of the story you’re inviting your clients into. So if you have the budget to work with a web designer, that’s definitely your best option. 

The good news is, you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to get great web design. Many of the options we’ve supplied below, brown down by state, are affordable and still offer top-quality service. 

How to tell if a web design company is good or not

Especially if this is your first time building a website, it can be tough to know if you’re looking in the right place for support. The truth is, there’s no shortage of web designers offering services that sound great, which can be especially tough to navigate when you don’t know what you’re looking for.

A few ways to tell if a web designer will be the right fit for you: 

  • Check for testimonials

This one is a no-brainer. See what people in your community have to say about a web designer by checking their Google reviews or browsing their website for client testimonials. If a web designer doesn’t have any testimonials on their website, you might have reason to be wary. 

  • See if they offer consultation calls

Many web designers will offer free consultation calls that give you a place to chat about your unique needs and ask some questions about their process. You want to find a web design team that will be open with you and help guide you through the process, especially if you’ve never been involved in a website launch before.

  • Ask for examples of their work

Nothing speaks to the quality of their work like a website itself. Ask to see some examples of the websites a designer has built, or browse their site to see if they already have some on display. You wanna keep an eye out for unique, eye-catching designs that draw you into the website. 

Red flags for a web design company

When you’re trying to decide on a partner for web design, you need to be aware of a few red flags that might come up. Here are two few important ones: 

  • All of their websites look the same.

One of the first things you should be asking for when you’re surveying options for web designers is past work. If all of their websites look and feel exactly the same, there’s an issue. One of the most important reasons to hire a professional designer is trusting them to bring your unique vision and story to life. If all you’re seeing is cookie-cutter website design, move on.

  • They’re not asking you questions.

This ties into the first red flag; if they’re not asking you questions or digging into what inspires you, they’re not going to be able to bring a unique vision to life. Your website has to feel uniquely your own, and a designer needs to be asking the right questions to figure out where to start.

The best web design companies in the U.S. 

Ready to bring your brand online and tell your story to the world? These are some of the top web design companies by State: 

 

Best Alabama Web Designers

The Nine

Zellus

Flagstone Search Marketing 

 

Best Alaska Web Designers

feldman+weber

Hyper Digital Marketing

Strategies 360

 

Best Arizona Web Designers

Flying V Group

Seota Digital Marketing

Swello Marketing 

 

Best Arkansas Web Designers

Simplemachine

Ion Agency

ThomaThoma

 

Best California Web Designers

Bop Design

Tiny Frog Technologies

EIGHT25MEDIA

 

Best Colorado Web Designers

Fruition

Neon Rain Interactive 

A Girl Creative Design Studio 

 

Best Connecticut Web Designers

York & Chapel 

Aspire Digital Studios

Stratedia 

 

Best Delaware Web Designers

Inclind

Veza Digital

Gadsly 

 

Best Florida Web Designers

Mighty Fine Design Co. 

On The Map, Inc. 

Comrade Digital Marketing Agency

 

Best Georgia Web Designers

3 Owl 

M16 Marketing

Soda Web Media 

 

Best Hawaii Web Designers

Vival

Webmaster Services Hawaii 

Game Changer Marketing Solutions 

 

Best Idaho Web Designers

Clear Mind Graphics, Inc. 

Turnkey Website Hub

Thrive Website Designs

 

Best Illinois Web Designers

Solid Digital

PopArt Studio

Idea Marketing Group

 

Best Indiana Web Designers

The Web Guys

PixelRocket LLC

xy.consulting LLC

 

Best Iowa Web Designers

Amplimark

Hill Productions & Media Group

Fusebox Marketing

 

Best Kansas Web Designers

Lifted Logic

Lee Media Group

JSMM

 

Best Kentucky Web Designers

Post Modern Marketing

One Thing Marketing

URBA Media

 

Best Louisiana Web Designers

ThreeSixtyEight

Vibrandt Media

Cerberus Agency

 

Best Maine Web Designers

Anchour 

First Pier

Rugged Costal 

 

Best Maryland Web Designers

Lounge Lizard

Mobomo 

Interactive Strategies 

 

Best Massachusetts Web Designers

RainCastle Communications

3 Media Web

GoingClear Interactive 

 

Best Michigan Web Designers

BMG Media

Ignite Media

Evenbound

 

Best Minnesota Web Designers

Windmill Strategy

Cazaran Interactive

Groove Jones

 

Best Mississippi Web Designers

U.S.NEXT

NetLinkSolutionZ

Computing Technologies 

 

Best Missouri Web Designers

Social Driver

Mobomo

Matchbox Design Group

 

Best Montana Web Designers

Zen Agency 

Website Express

Zaneray Group 

 

Best Nebraska Web Designers

Rule29

Huntrex Create & Connect

Little Guy Design 

 

Best Nevada Web Designers

Laxalt & McIver

Soffront Corporation

Christopher Green Design

 

Best New Hampshire Web Designers

Flylight Media

Vital Design 

SEOptiks

 

Best New Jersey Web Designers

eDesign Interactive

Socialfix Media

Lform Design

 

Best New Mexico Web Designers

The Free Website Guys

Mindshare Labs, Inc. 

URBA Media

 

Best New York Web Designers

Bop Design

Unified Infotech

Ruckus

 

Best North Carolina Web Designers

Savas Labs

DesignHammer

cmsMinds

 

Best North Dakota Web Designers

Spotlight

ShoutYourName

Also Creative Inc

 

Best Ohio Web Designers

The Media Captain

Gulo 

Magnet Co

 

Best Oklahoma Web Designers

Matcha Design 

AP Technology

Sooner Marketing Solutions

 

Best Oregon Web Designers

Solid Digital 

NS Modern Website Design 

XO Agency

 

Best Pennsylvania Web Designers

HUEMOR 

Xhilerate

Think it First 

 

Best Rhode Island Web Designers

North Street Create

Drupal Connect

Element 8

 

Best South Carolina Web Designers

UnitOneNine

Arrowhead Design Co. Inc

Complete Web

 

Best South Dakota Web Designers

Modern Design Agency

EtechGlobal, LLC

The WebPager Design Group

 

Best Tennesse Web Designers

LAB Digital Creative

Social Link

Pyxl 

 

Best Texas Web Designers

DIGITECH

Studio Fox Design

Idea Grove

 

Best Utah Web Designers

Boostability

Avalaunch Media

Direction

 

Best Vermont Web Designers

Eternity

Stide Creative Group

New Breed Marketing

 

Best Virginia Web Designers

Silverback Strategies

Mobomo

Direction

 

Best Washington Web Designers

Sayenko Design 

Jordan Crown

Bilberry

 

Best West Virginia Web Designers

Technology Services Group

Kingery & Company, LLC

Primitive House Designs

 

Best Wisconsin Web Designers

Agency Jet

THIEL

Vival 


Best Wyoming Web Designers

Waves Web Design LLC

Command Legal 

WebriQ

 

Need a quality web designer to help bring your brand online? 

Get in touch with Story Sells for a free web design consultation, where we’ll get to know your needs and walk you through our design and content process. Your story starts here.  Schedule a Call.

 

Why Good Branding and Marketing is the Key to Hiring Great People

If you are reading this blog, you are more than likely a business that sells to other companies.

My guess is that you do between $1M – $20M in sales annually and that you’ve built your business on grit, strength, referrals, and salesmanship. Wow, what an accomplishment! Not many people can accomplish what you have in their lifetime. Truly.

However, my other guess is that you believe marketing is a waste of money or doesn’t work. Sure, you may do some marketing here or there, but odds are high that you don’t have a marketing plan or budget in place. I completely understand that marketing is like any other industry on the planet: there are only 10% – 15% of excellent people, and finding “the excellence” is problematic. And companies that ask you to spend five figures per month without having any sort of proven marketing methodology and ROI in place are frustrating.

Here’s the problem, though: marketing, unfortunately, doesn’t work like sales, and your industry and company are changing. Fast.

Let me be extremely clear: I love “salespeople CEOs.” What do I mean by that? You know what I mean. 😁 You’re a salesperson CEO. You are in sales! You see the world as 0’s and 1’s, on or off, revenue or no revenue.

I’m built precisely like you. I was in Enterprise sales for the largest companies on the planet, selling to the largest companies on the planet. I’ve been in the trenches. I’ve been where you’re at. I’ve been up at 3 AM pacing. I’ve carried multi-million dollar quotes. I know what it’s like to spend $50,000 on a website only to have the design agency ask me for my “content.”

Me to the design agency: “Say what?!” 🤯

I’ve been there.

Here’s the deal, though:

When you are trying to hire younger folks to take over your business so you can do other things (and eventually retire) or employ other sales reps to bring more revenue in, marketing and branding immediately become real. Really real.

Why? Because within a moment’s notice, you immediately understand that the best talent, the A players, intuitively are on the lookout for the best companies to work for. And the best companies have a great brand, a great story, and an actual marketing plan.

How can you go from “marketing sucks” to “omg, please update my website” at a moment’s notice? Because you are the actual salesperson, you’re trying to hire. You’re the A player. If you were on the job market (puh-lease, Danny, as if), you would only want to sell for a company that had their shit together. You wouldn’t sell for a company that had a 30-year-old website. Why is that?

Because a 30-year-old website would tell you, the A player salesperson, that the CEO doesn’t care. That the CEO is burnt out. That the company is dying. That there is a better, sexier company down the street to go work for and sell to. 

“That company would look a lot better on my resume,” the great-looking, charismatic, funny, insanely talented salesperson said to themself. 

Whoops, didn’t mean to go into novel mode there, but in the words of Milli Vanilli: Girl, You Know It’s True.

Suddenly you’re hurrying to update your website that looks like it was built in Microsoft Paint. You start seeing your brand through the eyes of a 25-year-old. You see the robots and the “software heavy” companies coming after you. And you immediately walk away with the realization that you’ve been delaying the branding and marketing basics that haven’t had “a clear ROI” because of your view of the world.

I can’t begin to tell you the number of companies (all of which I dearly love because, again, I am that salesperson CEO!) that I’ve had to “prove” to their heads what their hearts already know: that a website is a 24/7 salesperson. That your messaging needs to be clear. That words help people to buy. And that you need a marketing plan to grow. That you need a kick-ass brand to attract the best customers and employees.

It’s quite funny, to be honest. I had a CEO laugh along with me when I came to the realization (after we rebranded her business): “Wow, you have no marketing plan or budget.”

Her response, “Yeah, isn’t is great.”

It certainly is, until it isn’t. 😁

Do me a favor, salesperson CEO: just start with the basics. You’ve already been dreaming about it anyway. You think of colors. You think of what your brand should look like. You have moments when you know you should be blogging, teaching, and emailing customers. When you think of creating a pricing table on your website or running a small Ad.

You’ve busted your ass to build a beautiful business. And you already know that Bob Dylan is right: The Times They Are a-Changin’.

Build the brand your younger self would want to work for. And start hiring the people you need to sail off into the sunset. 

You deserve it.

6 Roles You Need To Hire For A New Website Project

Your website is your first opportunity to tell your story to the world. 

Whether you’re launching a new business, finally bringing your brand online, or pivoting from an existing website that isn’t bringing in leads, one thing is true: the process probably isn’t as straightforward as you hoped. 

These days, almost anyone can put a website up pretty quickly–but building an effective site that actually connects and converts leads requires a degree of strategy and know-how. 

And too often, you end up having to go to multiple sources to get everything you need. 

What’s most important to consider is that the more in-sync every step of the process is, the more effective your website will be at converting leads. But if you have no background in website-building, it’s tough to know where to start. 

The most crucial things your website will need to succeed are: 

  1. The right messaging. 
  2. Strategic copy that actually connects. 
  3. Unique, eye-catching design.
  4. Speed and security. 
  5. A sales funnel that offers real value.
  6. A project manager to bring your vision to life.

These are the 6 roles you need to hire to bring your website to life: 

1. The Brand Strategist 

The first step to building an online presence is identifying who you are and what you offer to the world. Before you tackle writing website copy or getting your design together, you need a clear brand message that encompasses your values and mission.

The easiest way to get your audience to click away from your website is to confuse them.

Forbes breaks this down quite simply, offering this advice: “Have a short, clearly defined message and communicate it consistently.”

A brand strategist will help create your brand message by focusing on why your business exists, what you value, and why your audience should care. Your brand message needs to distill this in a clear, simple way, like a 30-second sales pitch.

An effective brand strategist also has to have a clear understanding of the market and how your brand will be perceived in relation to other businesses in your industry. 

2. The Copywriter 

Forbes also adds that for your website to be effective you have to, “be authentic and empathetic to your audience.” That begs the question: who’s your audience? What do they value, fear, and desire? What do they need from you and what obstacle does it help them overcome?

Your website copy needs to speak directly to the people who you want to take action on your site, and that requires some strategic planning and a copywriter who knows how to connect.

In order to connect in a meaningful way and inspire clients to take action, your content should be built to lay out a clear customer journey, carrying them past their objections and leading them to take direct action. Anyone stopping by your website should immediately understand exactly how your product or service will make their lives better. 

Great copywriting takes into account your audience and offer, and wraps it all into a clear, concise journey.  Plus, you need to have an eye for SEO (Search Engine Optimization), meaning what potential customers are searching for on Google. 

Following a proven framework like StoryBrand positions you as a guide to take your ideal client where they want to be. It allows you to not only let them know you understand their problems but also clearly show them how you will help solve them. 

3. The Designer 

When you browse a website, what really catches your eye? 

A great website design should be aligned uniquely with your brand, and an extension of how you want to tell your story and make your ideal clients feel. 

While words are arguably the most essential means of connecting with clients, website design matters just as much. 

According to research done by Stanford, 75% of consumers admit to making judgments on a company’s credibility based on the company’s web design.

While do-it-yourself templates offer a lower-cost option for those trying to get a website together quickly, they don’t typically offer the flexibility you need to create memorable websites that flow with your copy. A designer will usually start by having you list some website designs that you love and then hone in on what really makes them stand out. 

If nothing comes to mind, browse some websites from other businesses in your field and you’ll quickly find some massive differences between websites with eye-catching design and those that are basic, full of big blocks of text, and don’t really lay out a friendly user experience. 

4. The Developer 

If someone asks, “Which content management system are you using?”, you’ll probably respond with, “What’s a content management system?”

Don’t worry–you’re not alone! 

That’s where a developer comes in. A developer will know how to make sure your website is fast and secure when it launches. That process included deciding on the right host, optimizing photos for speed, and using a lightweight CMS for development. 

Most business owners with no website experience don’t know where to start here. A Content Management System (CMS) is the software used to manage your website content. 

If your website is glitchy, takes ages to load, or is overly-complicated to navigate, readers will probably hop right back over to Google and find a faster, more attractive site that gets right to the point. A great developer will make sure that doesn’t happen.

Plus, you need to be 100% sure that the website is secure so that anyone taking action on your site knows that their privacy is being protected. You don’t want to leave yourself vulnerable to hacks that could end up causing unnecessary headaches for you and your clients. 

Your relationship with your developer is ongoing, because your content will require continued edits and updates, and your website needs to be able to scale with your business. Think of your site as a car–it’s gonna need some servicing from time to time, and you want to make sure it’s in the right hands. 

5. The Sales & Marketing Expert 

Even with a clear brand message, effective copy, and eye-catching design, not everyone is going to be ready to commit as soon as they land on your website for the first time.

And that’s okay!

It’s important to have a sales funnel prepared that will allow them to download a valuable piece of content in exchange for their email address. Not only does the download serve as a frequent reminder that you’ve already helped them out, but you now have an in to keep in touch and nurture leads.

Think of it like this: most single people aren’t ready to marry someone after a first date. In that same vein, new website visitors aren’t always ready to click the call to action button on their first visit. Capturing an email address by providing something of value (a webinar, a checklist, an informative PDF, etc.) is your way of “going on a date” with your audience before asking them to commit!

You can also provide them with ongoing content that further enforces how transformative your product or service can be for them. With a strategic funnel, automated emails will have you booking leads in your sleep–as long as you have the right tools set up to execute your campaigns effectively. The more content you create, the easier it will be to tell your story and connect with the communities who need you most. A sales and marketing expert can help you create sales funnels and execute ongoing, strategic campaigns aligned with your clients’ needs. 

Building content equals building trust. And nurturing trust with your clients is the most effective way to create mutually-beneficial and long-lasting relationships.

6. The Project Manager 

With the right look, right words, and right plan, you can finally increase sales and love running your business–but you need a partner to help you bring all of that to life. The PM is the glue that holds all of these pieces together; like the maestro in charge of ensuring that every piece of the symphony comes together to produce a beautiful song. 

A project manager will make sure that each component of your project, from your brand message, to your copy, to your design, is running smoothly so you can launch a website you love on time.

How do you fill all of these essential roles?

You can either take them on yourself, hire 5-6 freelancers (and manage them yourself), or hire one company with all these roles in-house. Here are a few pros and cons that go along with each option.

Option 1: Hire 5-6 freelancers. 

The Good: You might get a better price, but that’s not always guaranteed with “one off” projects. 

The Bad: Quality can be hit or miss and it will require a huge time investment. Plus, you’re taking on the additional task of managing a large team. 

Option 2: Do it yourself. 

The Good: It’ll save you some money. 

The Bad: It requires a huge time investment on your part, and quality may suffer because you’ve never launched a website before. 

Option 3: Hire one company that specializes in all 6 roles (and has them in-house). 

The Good: High quality work (because this is all the company does), affordability (because the company does it for many customers at scale), and time savings (because the company does it all for you). 

If you think Option 3 is your best bet, then consider scheduling a call with us to chat about your next website project. We help you leverage the power of the StoryBrand framework to connect with your ideal clients, giving you the opportunity to clearly communicate your value and inspire readers to take action on a beautiful website built to help you drive more website leads. 

Ready to take the first steps to finally bringing your brand online? Schedule a call here.

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