Will Hardison is the "head coach" of FanBase, which handles video production, website design, and marketing strategy for businesses.
Cris Cohen: You notice a sense of fun with everything that FanBase does. A lot of small businesses are afraid of that. "We've got to look serious and professional". Were you ever nervous about going that direction?
Will Hardison: No. I think because so much of what we have built on and done has been from relationship building that they get to know me first and then come check out the website. So it kind of reiterates, "Okay. That's the guy that we met. We can hear his voice coming through the content."
I did make the mistake of kind of going overly fun for a while. We had a lot of sports analogies, like "Get off the bench and get in the game" and stuff like that. The people that are coming to your website, it is better to treat them as if they have no clue what you do and you have to spell it to them.
Especially in the marketing world. These marketing companies and web design and video production companies, they try to be over the top with all the little things that they do. But if you're somebody who has no clue what digital marketing is, you will probably would be a little bit more comfortable if I spell out exactly that we help you use tools on the internet to get new customers.
Cris: Or the other way where they go overly on the business speak. "Let me help you amortize your corporate endeavors."
Will: Exactly. Also, we have some contractors we work with as needed. Initially I loaded up our "About" page with all of them. That actually hurt us. People didn't contact us because they thought we were going to be too expensive because we were so "big." You look at that and you go, "I don't want to pay for ten people to help me. I just need something basic."
Cris: What have been the advantages of being yourselves and just saying "Look, this is who we are"?
Will: People tell me that we're very approachable, very likable. And that's one thing that I tell people when I do keynote talks. Because if you're not likable, you can forget it. People have to like you to do business with you.
If you've got an issue or if there's something that we need to resolve, I'm not gonna make a joke about it. I'm gonna go get it done. I'll be serious when I need to be serious. But 90 percent of the time, we like to have fun with our work. I think that's really helped too because we're not pretending to be somebody that we're not.
Cris: So many businesses, when it comes to their social media, they forget that there are actual humans that they're speaking to.
Will: Yeah. You're not a robot talking to another robot. You've got to have personality behind your brand. People need to see the authenticity of your brand. The perception that you build, online or at networking events, that's what people will think you are. If you are perceived as uptight and Mr. Always Going To Be Be Serious, that's what people are going think you are.
I wish people would let go a little bit and trust us a little bit more. I'm working with a gentleman now -- and he would tell you this, too, and that's why I'm telling this story -- he has the hardest time letting go. And I get it. It's his company. It's his brand. He's worked on it for a while. But he's almost 60 years old and he's trying to pitch his product to real estate agents who in their 20s and 30s.
I said "You can't go after these people with the corporate stuff. You need to be hip and young and speak their language." We even got a hundred plus responses to a survey that proved this is what they want. They don't want you to tell them about your comparative analysis. They want you to tell them that they can sell more homes as a real estate agent using your system. "Great. I can sell more homes. I can make more money". That's all they want you to tell them.
He keeps going back to all that lingo that you mentioned earlier, all of that overly corporate messaging like "Use our tool to do comparative marketing." I said, "No. Just say, 'Sell more homes, make more money'".
And it's great when clients trust us. Some do. We shot a video for Heather Macy from East Carolina University and she said, "You tell me what you need it to be. I'm willing to do whatever. You're the boss. You know what these people want. Take it and run with it."
Cris: Is there anything that you wish clients would ask you?
Will: I wish that people would think or ask about the bigger picture, more than just "I need a video" or "I need a website." I really wish people would think in terms of "How do I build this larger brand", "How does all this work together", and "How do I know what's working and what's not working".
Cris: Too many people don't acknowledge what they don't know.
Will: It's like if I hired an interior designer to redo my house and end up telling her or him everything that I want and picking out things myself. Why the heck did I hire an interior designer? If I hired an interior designer, I'm going to say, "Here are a few photos of what I like. Go for it. Make my place look awesome."