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Topic: "Doing it Right" - taking it to the next level
Message: Posted by: Scott Burton (May 27, 2011 08:45AM)
I'm inspired by the recent "Doing it Right" thread that highlighted Tom Crowl's wonderful example of how a little extra effort - and hiring the right help - can create an amazing leap in perceived value. It's amazing how a little work on your marketing presentation takes your perceived value to the next level. Thank you Tom for providing the inspiration.

I too am inspired by Kameron for his great thread on "how to be worth $2K every time" and by Benji's great thread on positioning within the minds of clients. While these two threads became a little controversial for various reasons, I think both highlight important ideas on positioning that need to be considered.

I have been working hard - over many years now - to improve my act and my marketing positioning. I've continued to grow and improve over time (will never claim to be perfect - in fact, far from it) and the quality and prestige of my clients has gone up significantly as well (but still have a ways to go).

I respect the opinions of all here - whether full-time or part-time performer and marketer. I'd like to think of myself as a constant student and I try not to become blind to areas which still need improvement.

I'd love to hear from you regarding my marketing presentation on my [url=http://www.amazingcompanyevents.com/]Corporate Entertainer[/url] website. I would like to think my site is pretty good but, in fact, I may have become blind or complacent to things (how would I know but ask?).

What do you think could be improved to attract high-prestige and high-paying corporate events - nationally and internationally? I ask for your opinions and your expertise. Look upon me as if you were such a prospective client.

Be as critical as you feel appropriate. Comment on anything you believe is important: copy, images, video, etc. Comment on things that may be missing. Perhaps mention personal preferences but try mostly to look through the eyes of the event organizer who may hire me. What could be holding me back?

I will not take offense and promise to respect your opinion. Your eyes are fresh to the site while mine have looked it over and over again likely missing elements which I no longer see. I am your student in this thread and would love to hear from you. Perhaps you will point out things that I can work on over the next few months or years depending. Thanks!
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (May 27, 2011 10:17AM)
Scott

I am a fan of yours from seeing and following your participation here on the Café. I've followed your interest and quest for knowledge and improvement, and progress here and am glad to see you are moving forward very nicely and taking in must of the advice that is offered without offense which is sometimes hard to do.

I was starting to look at your site (and will go back to look a bit deeper after this post) and the first two things that I noticed immediately were that when going to your site it takes quite an amount of time to load before coming up. Now maybe it's because I'm on the road at a Holiday Inn but their Internet connection seems to be just fine as all other sites I've gone to all morning are loading fine and much quicker. It may be just me but I thought I'd mention it because to many people if it isn't instant or almost instant they move on and won't wait. Just my first impression but you know how important a first impression is. Are your photos and graphics at 72dpi or maybe larger causing a slower load? Could be other things as well.

The second thing I noticed is nowhere in the first fold or really until a ways down into the copy does it really say what you do or what kind of "entertainer" you are. I know through seeing you here on the Café but to an unknowing buyer, consumer or party planner it's very vague and nondescript. Now, I get your whole positioning of Corporate Entertainer and the fact that you probably do not want to project one specific label like magician, mentalist speaker etc. Corporate Entertainer is your positioning but I feel you either need to describe (in quick, simple and easy to understand laymens terms) what type of corporate entertainer you are or what you do as a corporate entertainer. Not everyone will read on to find out. Even reading your testimonials they are quite general and nondescript. "Scott is the best entertainer we've ever had" is great but still doesn't describe doing what? Perhaps this changes if I were to read deeper but as I said these are just my first thoughts.

Perhaps a descriptive liner, positioning statement, or photos that specifically show something more obvious in the first fold of your site may be more helpful in letting them know more about the "what" that is Scott.

This is probably by design but may work against you from many nonpatient, "I want instant answers and information" types of viewers.

I do like to overall look feel and professional vibe you receive immediately (one it loads).
Message: Posted by: Scott Burton (May 27, 2011 11:28AM)
Thanks Mindpro for your kind words and support! The description (what I do) topic/issue is certainly something that needed to be better pointed out to me and I appreciate that and will work on that. I'll look into that slow-loading issue more but would also love to hear from others regarding this as I am not too technically-minded (just when I have to!).

I look forward hearing your thoughts once you have a moment to dig deeper into the site. I also look forward to hearing from others who may be so kind. Thanks!
Message: Posted by: Donald Dunphy (May 27, 2011 12:42PM)
Hi Scott -

One small thing that you should tweak is the copyright date on your website. It should read 2011 and not 2009, on all of the pages. The reason for this is so that your website appears current and up-to-date, and so that you appear to still be working.

- Donald
Message: Posted by: Scott Burton (May 27, 2011 01:22PM)
Done! Thanks Donald.
Message: Posted by: Scott Burton (May 27, 2011 02:14PM)
Mindpro: I changed "Corporate Entertainer" in the header to “[url=http://www.amazingcompanyevents.com]Magician[/url], [url=http://www.amazingcompanyevents.com]Mentalist[/url], & [url=http://www.amazingcompanyevents.com]Speaker[/url]”

Perhaps this helps. I'll have to look into the rest of the copy too.
Message: Posted by: tacrowl (May 27, 2011 02:59PM)
Scott,
It loaded very fast for me. The first thing I noticed were quotes overlapping your Laughter, Amazement & Empowerment text. Then I realized they may be meant to change via flash coding. I had the same issue when I made a small change and somehow screwed up the code on my site. If you kept the original source, it is an easy look - see to make the correction. If flash isn't the issue, then you've got an overlap!

The overall look is crisp and clean, which I like. You've got a lot of "Scott" in the copy. I'd suggest - and its just a suggestion, that you get rid of you and focus on the client. As an example:
[quote] Motivational Keynote Speaker – Scott can provide an entertaining and inspiring talk as a motivational speaker and athlete speaker. Scott is an entrepreneur and ultra-endurance athlete who believes in achieving success as we define it for ourselves. Click here for more.[/quote]

Motivational Keynote Speaker - An entertaining and inspiring motivational speaker energizes your audience and sets the tone for a memorable meeting. As an entrepreneur and ultra-endurance athlete, Scott shows your people how to define and achieve their own success.

A simple change that talks about their meeting, using things they want to experience - energized attendees, a memorable meeting, success. Now - I would NOT suggest using that change. (?) If it were me, I'd be talking to my copywriter and telling her I want the "me" removed and things worded for client benefit.

That's just a quick look - but copy is an important part of the mix. The design is looking sharp. Congrats!
Tom
Message: Posted by: Scott Burton (May 27, 2011 04:17PM)
Thanks Tom!

Could you please explain what you mean by overlapping? Is some text blocking out other text? Or is it just too close together? I'm not sure if we are not seeing the same thing (different browsers perhaps) or if it's more of a personal perspective on spacing.

In your opinion, would you suggest I hire a copywriter at this point? If so (and I suspect it is), what criteria would you suggest I use to select one.

I appreciate it!
Message: Posted by: tacrowl (May 27, 2011 04:40PM)
Scott,

Here's a screen clip of the image I get:
http://www.corporate-ventriloquist.com/Burton.JPG

I'm using Windows Explorer, so not certain if that's an issue or not. I'm on the road, so if it doesn't show up for anyone else - I can check on my office computer early next week.

On a copywriter - yeah, I do recommend it. I started by getting a good idea of what I wanted to say. I read web sites of people who I respected in the speaking business at the monetary level I was targeting. Then I went to Guru.com, set up an account and posted a clear, concise description of what I needed. Had a bunch of bids, and read the samples of each one. The writer I went with nailed everything she wrote. (Including her proposal.) I then shared all my research so she knew exactly what I wanted. Just like anything else, it takes homework. Make certain you are comfortable with the writing style of the person you select, then let them do their job!

Tom
Message: Posted by: Scott Burton (May 27, 2011 05:10PM)
[quote]
On 2011-05-27 17:40, tacrowl wrote:
Here's a screen clip of the image I get:
http://www.corporate-ventriloquist.com/Burton.JPG

I'm using Windows Explorer, so not certain if that's an issue or not. I'm on the road, so if it doesn't show up for anyone else - I can check on my office computer early next week.
[/quote]

Oh, wow, that's definitely not what I'm seeing (with IE and Crome). If someone else sees thing, please speak up.

Thanks again!
Message: Posted by: Donald Dunphy (May 27, 2011 05:27PM)
Viewing the site with my copy of IE8, the text in question overlaps like that when zoom is used. 75% instead of 100%. Or, 125% instead of 100%. But at 100% zoom it looks fine.

- Donald
Message: Posted by: Scott Burton (May 27, 2011 06:49PM)
OK...I believe the overlapping text in the header problem is fixed. Thanks for pointing out the zoom settings (didn't know about them!). Perhaps have another quick look for me to confirm. Thanks!

I'm so glad to have you guys pointing this out to me!
Message: Posted by: tacrowl (May 27, 2011 10:32PM)
Scott, its fixed on my screen now.
Tom
Message: Posted by: Scott Burton (May 28, 2011 03:31AM)
Thanks. I've gotten feedback from others as well that it's no longer an issue.

I invite others to critique and pick apart any part of the site you wish. Don't be shy! I value your opinion.

Would you, if you were an event organizer with $3000 or $4000 or even $5000 budget for entertainment, want to hire me or at least look into me further? Or would you just move on to find someone more fitting without investigating further? How about a $10,000 budget? I'm just using random - and potentially provocatively large numbers - here with the intent of asking my question in a different way: What sticks out to you as being "small-time" or "amateur" about my marketing presentation or otherwise uninteresting to such a client? I'm looking for points of resistance that may be occurring that I do not even know about - at least when it comes to my web presentation.

The elements I am missing may be non-web-design-specific in nature. Perhaps it's performance demo quality. Perhaps it's media credibility and social proof elements that are missing. Lack of high-level recognizable international companies represented as clients. These potential examples are not instant fixes (cannot hire a web designer to improve them until I work on them first) but are something to work on over time. I'm interested in this kind of stuff too as they are often more important than if the site is attractive. In fact, an overly attractive or flashy site may be a inhibitor to getting business from many groups.

So, what is holding me back at this point? What are the next steps that are most important to get to the point where such a client says "Wow, we have to hire this guy...now...and we'll make the budget work regardless of his price!"? Again, trying to be a little provocative on purpose to raise your standards so high that everyone will automatically see points for improvement. I know that I'm not there yet.

I am your grateful student :)

On a related note, I also encourage everyone to continually raise the bar for yourselves. I actually enjoy KNOWING where I need to improve rather than being in a state of ignorance in thinking I have everything perfect. IMO...there is ALWAYS room for improvement and learning regardless of who you are. I love forward momentum!
Message: Posted by: Benji Bruce (May 28, 2011 03:46PM)
Scott,

I've always liked your site but I've always thought there was too much text. I'm sure you can tell that I'm a "video" guy so I think your website should focus more on the video so people can see the results you produce rather than read about it.

Hiring a copywriter will definitely improve the site. I think the problem with the text is that it only "tells" and doesn't sell. If your text said something along the lines of "You're in a position to hire entertainment but there are so many options that you have no idea what to do. You...etc etc" Basically, the copy starts off by making the reader realize he has a problem (the same formula for sales letters) So if you want a good amount of text on the site then I would create it like a sales letter.

I'm sure you know social proof is the number one selling strategy so I think you need more of it on your site.

Like you, I've also been thinking about entertainers that charge 10K and up and I realized one thing. They can charge that much because they associate with a different group of people (that can pay them that much). Their websites aren't that great and they don't have a ton of videos, they just have a reputation and they're always infront of people who can pay more.

The venue people see you in has a huge influence on your value. If you're seen performing in a restaurant then your value isn't as high as if you're seen performing for the President's cocktail reception. So the venue in which people see you, determines your value.

And the people you associate with also determine your value. If you talk with event planners that only get gigs for $300 then no matter how good you do, how much they like you, etc, then you will never be able to charge more. To "be worth" 10k, you have to do things and associate with people that you're currently not associating with.

Adam Christing is a great marketer and if you take a look at his website.... http://interactiveentertainer.com/ then you will notice that it is nothing special...but he charges A LOT. Same goes for Tim Conover's website http://www.mentalist.net/ ....it is a horrible site, but I"m sure he made more money that all of us on this forum. These guys have simply associated with different types of people.

I believe, the only difference between you and a guy who is making 10k+ is the people you're around. They have the word-of-mouth marketing working for them amongst the right people. And no matter how good you are, how much social proof you have, if you're in the presence of the wrong people, you will never charge 10k

The problem is....how do you find the right people :)
Message: Posted by: Scott Burton (May 28, 2011 06:30PM)
Thanks Benji!

Interesting...I would have leaned on the side of not having enough text. Remember that the typical viewer of the site is sitting at their desk with limited freedom to listen to audio. Text is a critical component.

You said more social proof. Is there something specific you're thinking that I lack?

I agree that many of the top entertainers don't have a top-notch site. I doubt most top-end entertainers worry much about their site. (Hmmm...perhaps a lesson for me here!).
Message: Posted by: JordanB (May 28, 2011 06:54PM)
I follow the business forum mostly as a watcher, but occasionally contribute especially when it comes to subjects near and dear to my heart (accounting and taxation).

I have enjoyed reading your posts so I will venture out and offer some comments. First, I would eliminate the scroll down feature of the website. You should try and capture essential information in just one page and let them go where they need to go from there. I would put another tab called "Bio" and add all of your personal history to that tab. The first page should be just the essentials. I would check out Bill Malone's website for a good example of a good home page layout.

As for design....here are some suggestions. I would try and find some uniformity between fonts, sizes and colors. I would eliminate the red in the word "empowerment" as well as the white border around the lettering. Also if you are going to keep the quotes on the front page, I would try and justify them so they line up nicely instead of staggered; however, I would recommend putting the quotes up on a separate link titled "testimonials". I would also eliminate all of the ampersands from the website. I would also try and make the "Corporate Entertainment Specialist" stick out more and make your name stick out less on the front page. This is similar to putting your name in bold and in larger font at the top of a resume and is very common. Most people looking at websites like this (or resumes) are interested in what you offer first and if you strike their interest then they want to know your name. I would also eliminate the hyperlink on the front page for the words "corporate entertainment".

Anyhow, just a few thoughts.

Regards,

Jordan
Message: Posted by: Scott Burton (May 28, 2011 07:11PM)
Hey Jordan,
You gave some great thoughts including some real solid actionable suggestions. A quality post indeed! I'm happy you chose to come out and be a part of this thread.
Thank you so much!
Message: Posted by: Benji Bruce (May 28, 2011 08:29PM)
I've always thought the key to social proof is to overwhelm someone with it. Having one or two testimonials isn't enough. If you have a list of 400 of the Fortune 500 companies then people will think..."not all of them can be lying"

So the testimonials at the top of your page are great but then you stop giving social proof in the text. On your home page, when you scroll down to the Corporate Entertainment part it says, "Scott Burton provides a show with clean comedy, audience participation...." Instead of saying that, you can use it as an oppotunity to drop in social proof by saying, "Companies like A, B, C, D, E, F, G, hire Scott to provide a show with clean comedy, audience participation...." (and put the company names in a different color so they stand out)

I love your site but I think it does more telling than selling.

It's funny how the top-end entertainers seem to be non-existent (from forums, youtube, seo marketing, etc) but they make a lot of money. They are visible to all the right people and they do nothing which is of no use.
Message: Posted by: Scott Burton (May 29, 2011 05:51AM)
Thanks Benji! I appreciate you expanding on your ideas. That helps and gives me some things to work on.
Message: Posted by: Close.Up.Dave (May 29, 2011 08:47AM)
Scott, I've always liked your site. I took a second look at your site to see if I could find something wrong with it and it was tough. One thing I did find that I wasn't sure was a mistake or not was that I noticed you have 2 bars that link to your pages; one at the top and one at the bottom. The one at the top goes from home to contact. However, the one at the bottom also includes a link to your blog. Was it intentional to leave the link to the blog only at the bottom? If not, then you may want to add it to the top one as well.
Message: Posted by: Scott Burton (May 29, 2011 11:50AM)
Thanks Dave! Long time no chat! You're a good guy and appreciate the time you spent for me.
Yes, it is on purpose. I'm not trying to hide it but I'm also not trying to make it too prominent either.
Message: Posted by: jtmorris (May 29, 2011 09:25PM)
I liked your site. I appreciate that depsite lots of text, images found myself reading it all, and by the end I want to see your show now!
Message: Posted by: Scott Burton (May 30, 2011 07:08AM)
Thank you jtmorris for taking the time to write your kind words!
Message: Posted by: magic maniac (May 31, 2011 07:23PM)
Hey Scott !

Follow Canadian here. Trust all is well.

I was reviewing your website, and agree with Jordon on a few points. These days scroll downs aren't acceptable, you need to sell yourself on one page. For the home page, I would remove everything below your links to clean it up. It looks like the links lead to the same information below anyhow ?

I would also add call to action with an e-mail capture on every page (linked to your contact page if necessary). You may entice a few more prospects to provide their e-mail with a free offering ? I use a free party planner guide, but you would likely need something valuable to corporate event planners. It looks like you provide motivational speaking, maybe a free PDF with a top 10 techniques to motivate employees ??

Definitely have a separate page for your testimonials. If possible, turn the multiple embedded testimonials into a compilation (again cleaning it up).

Hope this helps !

Jonathan

P.S. Congratulations on the Hockey team....
Message: Posted by: Scott Burton (May 31, 2011 09:13PM)
Hi Jonathan!
Thanks for the feedback. I will go through your recommendations in detail.
And, thanks too for the congrats re: our new NHL team. Winnipeg is shinning bright tonight!
Message: Posted by: BarryRice (Jun 9, 2011 08:59AM)
I haven't been all the way through the site yet, but I have a couple of comments. Some of them are a little nit-pickey and maybe unique to me, but I wanted to give you as much information as possible.

1) The site has a very professional look to it. Your top picture establishes you as professional and friendly. Very well done.

2) The pictures on the main page have lots of participants smiling and laughing which is key. It does, however, look like most of the pictures are from the same show. I don't think this is a big deal, but it might chip away a bit at the idea of you being an in demand pro. Just keep trying to get quality pictures from other shows to rotate in. It will also help keep the site up to date.

3) Everything is really big. I kinda feel like I am reading the large type version of your website. Maybe this is psychologically positive but it feels a little uncomfortable to me.

4) You seem to have followed the one page sales pitch format that seems to work best for these situtations. Great work. I have not been able to pull this off effectively yet. Something that might help would be to have a more definative and stronger "call to action" at the end. The last paragraph should urge the person to act now and tell them exactly what they need to do.

5) When I first clicked the link my page was not maximized. I noticed that this caused your picture at the top to be pushed off to the left where I could only see half of your face.

6) The site looks very motivational. Are you pushing being more of a motivational speaker or a pure entertainer?

Overall, it looks great. It is much better than my website. I remember hearing someone somewhere once say that when people book corporate entertainment much of the time their primary criterion is to hire someone that will not get them fired. You look very professional and like a safe bet, but it also looks like people have fun at your show.
Message: Posted by: Scott Burton (Jun 9, 2011 09:26AM)
Thanks Barry!

I do some speaking work as well...but the theme of my show keeps the "Laugher, Amazement, and Empowerment" elements. Just a natural extension of my personality and beliefs. The majority of my work in for pure entertainment but there is a slight motivational "edge" to the entertainment without getting heavy or preachy on people.

I actually had photographers work for me at a few events. It happened to be that many of the best photos came from 2 of the performances which were held at the same venue (thus the same background)! I lean towards selecting the best photos of me and my audience above making sure the backgrounds are different (however the point is still important and noted).

On the "everything is really big" topic, do others feel the same? I can make it smaller but I've done testing my personal preference has been to have it this way. I welcome others to chime in on that.

I've actually done a lot of re-writing and re-organizing of the website content over the past week. The new content is live but I'm having a writer look over it later this week to weed out any grammatical issues and do re-writing as needed. Perhaps those who commented on the content, could offer their feedback on the direction I'm headed with the content. I believe I've addressed the issues presented above (Mindpro, Benji, and others).