The Trap That Modest People Fall Into Constantly In Business…And How To Avoid It

by Diana Ecker on August 11, 2014

The Trap That Modest People Fall Into in BusinessThere’s a massive trap that solo entrepreneurs and companies fall into on their business websites.

Here’s the worst part: the people who fall into this trap are some of the most conscientious, responsible, and modest people out there.

Even their most trusted friends and colleagues may not detect it — because at first glance, everything actually looks fine. So sometimes even gathering feedback won’t bring it to your attention.

So what is this tricky trap? It’s making a case for your general topic area instead of your specific solutions.

Massage therapy training: One organization’s story

An organization I consulted to in the health and wellness arena found themselves doing this on their home page and throughout their site. They offered massage therapy training courses for all levels, beginner through expert (details have been changed).

The organization was made up of people who worked hard to ensure that the training courses were useful and well-received. They also truly believed in the power of massage therapy.

And so a vast amount of their website’s real estate was devoted to…the power of massage therapy. Why it was helpful. What the benefits were. What conditions it could help with.

But it was training — not massage in general — that was the primary source of income for the organization.

To focus entirely on the general topic of massage therapy and to stay quiet on the training courses was a very damaging decision, despite being one that was made with good intentions.

But what’s risky about leading with the basics?

What the organization had overlooked was that nearly every visitor to their site was already convinced of the benefits of massage therapy! They were preaching to the choir. And while that might initially seem fine, or at least neutral, it’s very risky.

First, it’s a missed opportunity. Potential students in search of a massage training course are likely comparing alternatives, searching until they find something satisfying, or harboring at least a little bit of ambivalence.

A website that focused on the most key aspects of the courses right up front could provide helpful differentiators, offer that “click” that satisfies a searcher, or tilt an ambivalent visitor over to the buying side.

Second, it’s potentially alienating. If there’s one thing that most of the site visitors have in common, it’s that part of their identity is already “believer.” So being greeted with a slew of general information clearly designed to speak to people who are ignorant, skeptical, or both is not going to feel good.

And this organization certainly was not alone. It’s a trap that many people fall into.

Why do solo entrepreneurs and team members fall into this trap in the first place?

The people who fall in are often striving to be…

Thorough: For some people, starting at the very beginning and providing absolutely all of the basic information feels essential. If they left it out, they would feel like their site was incomplete.

Fair: For others, particularly in the helping professions, there may be some distaste for sales or marketing techniques. Offering up facts makes them feel that the site is more balanced and less manipulative.

Modest: Why, some people think, should they brag about themselves or their products and services when they can pay homage to the general area? Surely it’s more selfless to keep the focus where it belongs.

Thoroughness, fairness, and modesty — these sound like good things! And in fact they are likely qualities that enable the people at this organization and many others to be highly effective in their work and deeply valued by their customers.

But if you’re not careful, these qualities can also sabotage your site.

So what should you look for on your own site?

Unlike some website traps, this one is relatively easy to find once you know what to look for:

Unnecessary information: Are your website visitors already convinced of the benefits of your general area? And if so, how much of, say, your home page is devoted to convincing them of something they already believe?

Ultra-general content: Is there content on your site that’s so general that your least favorite competitor — the one whose products or services are simply not up to par — could reasonably repeat, word for word, on their site as well?

Statements that present instead of persuade: Does your site have lots of statements like “(General area) is…” or “Here are the benefits of (general area)”?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, start there.

You’ve just found a way to remove or replace content on your site, making room for a message that will improve your bottom line.

Photo by Ermin Celikovic via unsplash.

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