Listening to Our Client and Leading Them to a New Website
Listening is very much in vogue. Even the recent blockbuster Arrival focused on the power of listening to arrive at an understanding across cultures. Everyone’s talking about it. But is anyone really listening?
The power of listening is also one of the core values that the Barry-Wehmiller Leadership Institute (BWLI) imparts upon those who participate in their courses and seminars.
We’ve long been proponents of listening as a craft. It’s a critical part of our branding program, and the best way for us to gain insight into what makes our clients tick. For our work with the BWLI, we started with something brand new for us: a daylong brand workshop. It was perfect for the BWLI team because they had an existing, defined mission but were having trouble articulating it in a meaningful way and, in turn, describing what they do.
The Brand Workshop
It started early one morning in a hotel conference room, away from the distractions of daily work life. Throughout the full, exhausting day, we walked (and talked) their team through a series of questions and exercises that proved enlightening – and even surprising.
Full disclosure: it was a bit… intimidating. The folks from BWLI are incredibly personable and engaging. But they’re also master facilitators. They do this sort of thing every day for their clients, and here they were looking to us for advice and guidance.
Luckily, we had a few unexpected tricks up our sleeves. One of the highlights was the Brand Deck, which challenged their team (and ours) to use seemingly unrelated words to describe their brand – for example, to choose between “idealistic” and “realistic.”
The Brand Deck helped inspire new thinking – and sparked lively conversations throughout the day and even later in the project.
We also used the time in the Brand Workshop to map their client experience, identifying key personas who might visit the site.
This seemed to be one of the most difficult parts of the day for all of us, as we tried to understand why people look for an organization like BWLI, what inspires them to take action, and what might help them stay engaged.
Immersing Ourselves in the Role
Whenever we take on a project, we do everything we can to get an inside look at what we’re selling. For restaurants, drink mixes and consumer cleaning products, that might seem easy. But we often do it for complex, B2B industries too. And, thanks to the generosity of our client, we were able participate in one of their leadership courses.
It was an incredible, two-day experience that gave us a tremendous opportunity to see them in action – and to interact with people who take their courses. The focus of the “Beyond Benchmarking” course was to change the way companies think about leadership. It’s all about moving from measuring success based on what you do, to how well you fulfill why you do it. This philosophical shift can transform the way companies treat employees.
And as you might have guessed, it has a lot to do with listening.
We took a lot away from the experience – for the BWLI website, of course, but also for other work, and even the way we live. That, by our measure, makes this a successful, rewarding project – and we haven’t even really talked about the actual work yet.
So, Let’s Talk about the Website
After viewing their old website, people would often call BWLI with basic questions. “What do you do exactly? What classes do you offer? And when are the next classes? How much do they cost?”
This helped make our priorities clear. Right from the start, we need to give a clear statement about what they do and for whom. And while we’re at it, let’s capture the unique personality that was so on display during our brand workshop.
Every page of the site unfolds this way: with a bold, bright statement and a strip highlighting important words for added emphasis. Getting this to work and incorporating it throughout the site was a tight collaboration between copy, design and development.
Based on what we heard during our customer experience mapping exercise (there’s that listening thing again), we worked with the client to break their courses and offerings into three core categories – Take a Class, Hire a Speaker and Bring it Inside.
These action-oriented sections lead visitors down the traditional client engagement path, starting with the public courses like the one we took and moving through hiring a speaker for a private event. “Bring it Inside” is where the real magic of BWLI happens, where facilitators visit an organization and deliver customized messages directly to an organization’s employees.
These three sections serve as an anchor for each page of the site, so visitors can jump to a section that matches where they are in their leadership training journey.
Each course also has its own, individual page. Again, listening to their team, we sought to answer key questions people have when they visit this page. We made the content and objectives of each course clear, while making offerings seem accessible to a wide audience. (And the added benefit this has for SEO doesn’t hurt, either.)
It’s an approach we took throughout the site: making copy light and friendly, while maintaining a level of professionalism necessary to reach everyone from executives in the C-suite to first-time (or even future) leaders.
The partners at BWLI produce a ton of content for a separate blog, Truly Human Leadership, and they wanted a separate showcase for that content (and additional pieces) that would be relevant to the BWLI audience. That was the motivation behind “Stay Inspired,” a blog-style collection of inspiring content designed to draw their visitors through the experience from taking a class to bringing it inside their organization.
The BW Leadership Institute’s offerings are always evolving – so one of their biggest questions was around adding classes and maintaining their course calendar after the site went live. After all, a website is never truly finished. We built the website so that adding or changing courses, posting upcoming class dates or creating blog posts requires no coding knowledge. Anyone on their team can do it.
Where Do We Go from Here?
That’s a question we always ask when we get near the end of a project. It’s especially apropos in this situation. As we wrap up these initial pages, we’re working with their team on a more robust exploration of the customer journey, designed to showcase the true impact BWLI courses can have on an individual’s professional and personal lives.
We’re incredibly proud of this new work for BWLI, and are even happier that our client has shared our enthusiasm throughout the project. It’s hard not to do great work when a client is so engaged and involved in the project.
Thanks for coming to our site-warming party and checking out the cool new features. @Atomicdust, we’ll sing your praises forever.
— BW Leadership (@bwleadinstitute) February 2, 2017
Further, it’s all proof of the power of listening. As we wrapped the project, our contacts at BWLI – huge proponents of listening themselves – expressed how impressed they were that we captured their personalities so well just by listening to their stories.
Watch this space for more about our journey with the BW Leadership Institute. Check out their website (and maybe start your own journey).