Judging Books by Their Covers

People are shallow.

(No, not just the orange-colored Botox queens from Miami or Beverly Hills…)

I’m not excluding myself from this observation either. “Don’t judge a book by its cover” is timeless advice, but it’s hard to follow with so many shiny objects competing for limited attention.

You could bemoan the lack of depth and nuance in today’s cultural landscape…

Or accept the fact and use it to your advantage.

Your target customers are already judging you with this superficial analysis. They don’t have time to put their days on hold while they dig around your website looking for clues that you’re a great fit.

More often than not, they’ll find a competitor with more compelling presentation and give them a shot instead.

“Judging books by their covers” is a natural defense mechanism. Our time is limited. We might spend more of it analyzing a few options in more depth… but ONLY after they pass the cool cover analysis.

That’s not to say that substance doesn’t matter. If your brand is all flash, you WILL get found out. It’s not a matter of if, but when.

But a little style — at least enough to catch those busy browsers and get them to slow down — is the initial threshold you must cross.

If your brand doesn’t look valuable, competent and relevant, you’ll never get more than a few precious seconds before people move on to someone else. Even if it IS all of those things.

Whether you’re brand new in business or a seasoned veteran, appearances are critical. We’re judging those book covers, remember? Looking like you know what you’re doing is the first step to getting opportunities to prove it.

There are lots of sensible things you can do to get your foot in the door:

  • About Us page. Instead of hiding anonymously behind the computer screen, being willing to share your name, face, and origin story.
  • Marketing system. Whether it’s content, social media, PPC, email, or all of the above, this system exposes your brand to more eyeballs and builds relationships.
  • Professional website. With a top-level (.com, .org., .net, etc.) domain, a clean layout, and navigation that makes sense.
  • Social proof. A track record of proven results. Testimonials from happy customers. Logos of companies you’ve helped. Publication credits on influential magazines and blogs.
  • USP. Are you, clearly and succinctly, conveying: 1) whom you serve; 2) the benefits you provide; and 3) the unique value that makes you a better choice than anyone else?

These seem like such simple things, and they are. But it’s amazing how many people try to shortcut them. Without the fundamentals, you’re relying on people to forget about their hectic schedules and dig around like a detective from a film noir mystery for clues that you’re competent.

Fat chance.

Do you look like you know what you’re doing?

That is the first key hurdle you must clear.

Go here to see how I can help.