Problems I’ve Solved For Clients
Client A: Agricultural cooperative
I consulted for one of the top 100 agriculture cooperatives in the US, with 15,000+ members and 500+ employees, to analyze their online presence (website and social media) and compare it to the online presence of their primary competitors.
My client came into the project knowing that they weren't leveraging their online platforms as much as they needed to, and wanted to figure out what they were doing well and where they could improve. To begin, I looked at their approach to how they and each of their divisions (e.g. agronomy, animal nutrition, energy, grain) go to market: what they did well, what they should change, and why. I also checked and tested the various customer touchpoints, including newsletter subscriptions.
They also wanted to develop their social media platforms, their approach to how the platforms are used and monitored, and how customers are engaged. One area of focus was how they could better promote their customer success stories through videos, images, and more.
In terms of competitors, since much of what coops sell is location-dependent, with high costs for moving grain, feed, liquid propane, and so on, my client's local competitors were mainly limited to other local cooperatives. But I also performed an in-depth analysis of a few nationwide brands that the client knew they should be more aware of.
Overall, I showed how half a dozen of their competitors and potential competitors go to market using their websites and social platforms. I highlighted what each of them were doing well, and what they were doing wrong, and what my client could learn from their approaches.
The client was thrilled with the deliverables:
"Fantastic work! This is exactly what I was looking for!"
"Thanks for your expertise and quick turn-around time!"
Client B: Agricultural cooperative
The previous agricultural coop was so pleased with my work that they referred me to another agricultural coop, which is one of the largest member-owned cooperatives in Colorado, and has been in operation for more than a century.
The head of marketing at the second coop had recently received a mind-blowingly high quote from a marketing agency for the creation of a full marketing plan, so they were pleased with the referral and my more reasonable prices. This client hadn't spent much money or time around marketing and strategy, and wanted to do more to catch up.
I took a broad competitor list, segmented it by category, and highlighted what each competitor was focusing on and where this created opportunities for my client.
I analyzed key pages and conversion touchpoints on their website, including newsletter signups, page load times, and many more.
I performed additional market research on applications and value chain for markets like propane autogas to better position specific offerings for the market segment.
Through research and comparison to both in-industry and out-of-industry reference cases, I recommended optimal ways for my client to tell their brand story and surface the most important aspects of their history and points of differentiation.
I assessed the brand voice and tone, and recommended tweaks or updates that would resonate with their target audience.
"So far we really like what we see. Some of your comments had us cracking up!"
Client C: Boutique law firm
I consulted for a cadre of exceptional attorneys who practice an unusual triumvirate of business, tax, and estate planning law. Their primary goal was to upgrade their online profile to look more professional. Many of their clients come to them via referral, and the image the old copy presented didn't align with a prospective client's mental model of the firm.
Their secondary goal was to improve the way the firm is positioned from a potential employee perspective, and make it more appealing to attorneys looking to join the firm.
Initially, I spoke with the client on the phone about the project, then met with some of the partners at their office. While I typically work with clients remotely, the law firm had a number of stakeholders involved in the project, and it was helpful to sit down with the group for a strategy session midway into the project. This allowed me to collect and synthesize feedback in real-time, and get a better feel for the organizational culture and environment that the attorneys and their clients spend time in.
For this project, I turned a generic value proposition headline that could have been used for any service business into a specific one that will grab the attention of their target client and get them to keep reading. I also improved the copy throughout the site, including their About page, their homepage, each practice area of the firm, and the attorney bios.
Client D: Restaurant technology company
About the Client
Client D is a restaurant technology company that has developed a unique spin on the delivery and takeout business. They had achieved product-market fit and were beginning to scale their restaurant network and consumer user base.
Problems and Objectives
They wanted to create stronger messaging that spoke to B2C app customers as well as B2B restaurant customers, and wanted their on-premise signage to clearly and quickly convey the essence of the service.
I worked directly with the company's CEO to plan and execute the project, collaborating through email, phone, and in-person meetings at their office.
After reviewing the pitch deck, customer testimonials, articles, and app reviews, I advised that the company focus on its most passionate customer segment on the consumer side. From reading everything available about the company on the web, I knew that the CEO had been highly aware of this segment from the beginning, but the messaging wasn’t as targeted to this segment as it could have been. There was still ambiguity in who the service was for.
With the CEO in agreement on the more specific positioning, I changed the value proposition on the homepage to signal to their target customer, and made the below-the-fold copy more benefits-focused for that specific audience.
The company already had a page dedicated to potential restaurant partners. To make that page more noticeable and actionable, I changed the name of the page and ensured a text match with the navigation menus. To better explain how the service worked and how it could help their cafe or restaurant, I made the messaging more specific and benefits-focused, starting with a new value proposition for that page. Along the lines of the consumer side, I streamlined the messaging to focus on restaurants and cafes, not other types of retail businesses, which the copy had previously included, both on the website and app store.
To enhance understanding of the solution and its value, I modified the UI by rearranging, adding, and improving the visual on-page elements like app store button placement, testimonial excerpts, carousels, icons, and more.
On both the B2C and B2B side, I removed competing calls-to-action. I optimized the lead collection forms with a new headline and subhead, button text and color, and click triggers for higher rates of form completion.
On the app store, I streamlined the copy to focus entirely on the consumer side, and to quickly and clearly convey the value proposition in a way that signaled to the target customer.
Finally, I honed their on-premise signage with the goal of more clearly and quickly communicating the benefit of using the app, and improved the visual assets to make the signage easier to read and understand at a glance.
Client E: Email app with a large installed base
About the Client
Client E was a highly promising and very popular email app that generated a lot of traction and built a large installed base of happy customers.
Problems and Objectives
They were making changes to their business model, and were almost ready to ship. Changing things when you have a significant installed base is always a challenge, and they needed to figure out how to best position and explain the changes to both current and prospective users. Having a clear value proposition and messaging strategy was very high on their minds. I worked with the founder and CEO to learn what he needed for their brand messaging, and to collaborate on certain parts of the process.
Research & Positioning
To get an up-to-date and visual overview of competitor messaging, I conducted a competitive messaging audit focused on four similarly-sized email apps. This showed which messaging was common and overused, provided a handy visual reference of the competition's messaging, and indicated how the company could strengthen their differentiation.
To get a better understanding of the audience, and mine a rich source of customer language to use for brand messaging, I engaged in comprehensive customer review mining using the company's own app store reviews along with reviews of competitors.
Distilling the takeaways from hundreds of reviews into a simple table form provided a great insight into how the customers describe the product and what they love about it (or what annoys them). It also illuminated pain points, derived from competitor reviews and inferring the problem the company’s app solved for them. Customer pain points are useful to have, because you can create negative messaging using the customer’s own language. It's always enormously valuable to see the language customers use, and it's ultra-convenient to have the language grouped and categorized.
On the homepage, I created a new value proposition to communicate the core value of the company's solution and keep potential customers on the site. I removed competing calls-to-action and tweaked the button placement, color, and text to boost clickthroughs. I revamped the newsletter sign-up form, even though most of their sign-ups come through the app itself.
On the About page (which I gave a new headline using the first body sentence on that page), I suggested that the founder add more about his own story and why he founded the company, and his vision for bringing email into the modern, visual, touch-centric world.
A lot of entrepreneurs take their story for granted, but the more you tell your audience about your story, the more customers will trust you and your product. It often takes an outsider to see what customers would find fascinating, and how to use the story to humanize the brand and build trust. Moreover, with apps, people don’t like it when there’s no information about the developer (understandably so), which is why I suggested a sentence or two about the story to use in the app store, as well.
Collaboration on Upsell Pages
A crucial aspect of the brand messaging was presenting the new pricing models on the upsell pages—not only for new users, but for different tiers of legacy customers. I collaborated with the founder to optimize those pages and clarify the UI. It was fairly complicated on the planning side, but had to be simple and straightforward.
There were several variations of the upsell page for these different tiers, including specific copy for trial and legacy users. Working with the founder, I helped him improve the page layout and color scheme, put slight emphasis on one of the pricing plans, and decide on button text and color, with anxiety-reducing text close to the buttons.
Looking at the payment screen that the customer would go to after clicking the button, I provided a strong text match so the customer would know they’re in the right place, and aligned the upgrade button text with the (unchangeable) button text on the payment window for even better text match.
Collaborating on the page got him to think of a perfect way to present the additional explainer copy. I added the headline and new button text and color.
The process of collaboration, especially in person, allows for fast iteration and sparks new ideas and solutions that combine the founder’s knowledge of what they can accomplish technically (and what they can or can’t change) with my knowledge of customer-focused brand messaging.
App Store Optimization
Their app store page was in pretty good shape, but there was room for improvement. I honed the copy to make sure the value was communicated quickly and clearly, and to better communicate the app's benefits to the target customer.
The company has a massive email list that they hadn’t engaged with in a while, and the founder wanted to start new campaigns to accompany their big holiday promotion. I created several email sequences: a welcome sequence for both trial and paid users, a re-engagement sequence for inactive users, and an upsell email for active users.
For the small number of existing emails, I changed the button text and placement, tweaked the copy, and removed unnecessary or competing call-to-action buttons.
We needed to reach multiple levels of users in the current installed base, as well as new users. Each email had its own single goal and action to focus the copy and clickthroughs. I wrote new copy and layered in touches of humor that helped create a stronger brand voice without radically diverging from what they’d been doing already.
Going forward, I recommended additional email sequences, including anniversary emails (when customers first signed up for the app) and a recommendation survey to segment customer ambassador/evangelist users. I also suggested that the team create a walkthrough video, and implement a referral program (when they have the bandwidth for it).
With my help refining the brand messaging and UX, optimizing points of conversion in the funnel, and writing email sequences for multiple user tiers, the founder and his team were able to dedicate more time to core development.
Client F: Inspired and affordable handcrafted furniture
About the Client
Client F makes stunning, elegant, handcrafted furniture from American hardwoods, at an affordable price (no small feat). They sell both direct to consumer and to the retail trade.
Problems and Objectives
The goal was to better convey the value proposition of the existing tables and desks to both consumers and retail partners.
Review Mining & Positioning
Since there weren’t many customer reviews or conversations to mine, I judiciously chose some popular home decor books and read the reviews for them, noting the most interesting language, pain points, and desires. From this task, and what I knew about the company, I developed the positioning for a specific target audience.
Website Positioning & Copy
The website looked sharp, but there was room for improvement in the positioning, copy, and conversions (including micro-conversions).
The homepage featured a carousel of slides above-the-fold, each with its own heading, subhead, and button. I created new headlines and subheads for each. This is not an ideal situation in terms of a value proposition; I prefer a static area above-the-fold, and one value proposition that I can be sure the customer will see when they arrive.
I changed the button text on each slide to a clear action that gave the reader a good idea of where they’d go from there. In some cases, a better value prop was already living elsewhere on the site (which is actually a common scenario with the companies I work with).
On the product pages, which had the most important conversion buttons, I recommended some changes to make those buttons more noticeable and clickable. On the video, I changed the button text from an inaccurate action to an accurate and more interesting one. And I changed the newsletter form completely, from a generic one you could barely even see to a noticeable and specific one that indicated the benefits of joining, the frequency of the send, and button text and color that conveyed an action and a benefit.
On the site overall, I made sure the copy was benefits-focused instead of ambiguous or features-focused. And on the About page, I added more details to the founder’s story to appeal even more to his target audience segment.
Enhancements to the Trade Site
On a similar site for the retail trade, I changed the broad and untargeted value prop to a stronger, benefits-focused and specific one they already had below-the-fold. This immediately let the trade reader know what the product offering was and how the company’s furniture was different. Previously, the trade reader wouldn’t know what was being sold, how it was special and unique, and why they should keep reading down the page.
Topics for Blog, Newsletter, and Video Content
The founder was also interested in doing more with his blog and newsletter, as well as with video. I performed keyword research on Answer the Public, Google Trends, and just plain Google—as well as looking at what people say in their reviews of stylish home decor books. To make it as easily referenceable as possible, I categorized the topics into groups.
He was already incorporating video into the site, including a minute-long video on how his furniture is made, along with GIFs on his product pages showing that particular piece. I gave him some tips on video strategy and execution, and pointed out a few topics that would be especially well-suited for video.
Enhancing Content for Instagram
Since the company’s target audience segment is on Instagram, and the company already had a presence there, I provided demographic information about Instagram, the best times to post, and some tools and tactics for using video and images.