Creating Websites that Speak for You
In this, The Faces of Business episode, Sarah Johnson, Co-Founder, Content Director, JamboJon, talks about Creating Websites that Speak for You and how the right web pages clearly communicate your message to visitors and let you achieve your desired goals and objectives.
Sarah works with business owners to define their goals, build effective sales pipelines, and develop a following of raving fans. With 36+ years of experience and 4,000+ website pages programmed, Sarah knows what an effective website looks and feels like.
Sarah founded JamboJon in 2003 as a website development marketing firm helping small businesses establish strong brands. Sarah and the team at Jamobojon specialize in creating websites that help clients expand their businesses. By virtue of her extensive experience in sales, psychology, and human connection, Sarah designs websites that successfully combine technology, storytelling, and graphics.
Writing has always been Sarah's passion, and over the past ten years, her work has appeared in newspapers, social media platforms, blogs, websites, and newsletters. Sarah recently finished writing her first book and has edited three full-length novels.
Damon and Sarah are very excited to talk about websites. The guest reveals that she has been running websites since the early 2000s. She gives huge credit to her college internship. At Utah Salt Lake Valley, she worked in a botanical garden. College authorities tasked her with the communications department "to help create the wireframe and the content for the websites."
Sarah gives details of tasks she performed. She worked in public relations, shared press releases, managed events, did graphic design, and "all the things marketers do." Website development was then a new concept. Moreover, there were no publishing tools like WordPress, Blogger, and BlogSpot. There were only HTML and Dreamweaver.
Additionally, she talks about her husband, Johnny, the co-owner of JamboJon. Before starting the business, he was the marketing director for a small software company in the Valley. He worked with a bunch of programmers. She describes two kinds of programmers: "the ponytails and the propeller heads."
These two idiosyncratic terms arouse Damon's curiosity.
According to Sarah, "Propeller heads are the tall, thin ones who like to make jokes about this one." Ponytails are "like ice that works well." Today, the couple runs a company. They have built hundreds of websites and thousands of pages and "have helped companies all over the country with their websites."
Damon furthers the discussion by asking Sarah about her writing passion. Sarah comments that her writing career started when she wrote a journal in the fifth grade. So far, she has written over 47 journals. Currently, she is working on the 48th.
Interestingly, she loves writing copy. "It's one of my favorite things." A copywriter can incorporate storytelling and learn about storytelling. All content stems from the human experience.
Damon appreciates Sarah's insight into the human experience. Apparently, he has come across some very self-explanatory titles. Sarah finds that relatable and gives examples of her family and grandfather's filial love. Sadly, her father passed away when she was ten. She learned about her father through the words he wrote in his "journals and all of his letters." So, she collected her family's stories and shaped them into words.
Sarah talks about her grandfather, a wealthy professor-turned-businessman. "He was wildly successful," she reveals. The New York Times published his obituary. Similarly, he received a lifetime achievement award from the Smithsonian. Her grandfather acted like a father. In his letter to his wife—Sarah's grandmother, to be exact—he chronicled the struggling phase of his career. Interestingly, her grandpa's struggles sharply match Sarah's early days of her career.
The guest opines that without the storytelling element, the content is boring. She believes it is important to understand human psychology. "Our brains are designed to keep us alive."
There are several reasons to make the content as lively as possible. Firstly, potential customers will make the message invisible if the message is difficult to understand. In other words, people will not even see if the message does not solve a problem and is not easy to understand. Resultantly, it will disappear.
Secondly, there's a part of our brain called the "reticular activating system" (the RAS). It's a filter. So our "subconscious mind processes over 11 million bits of data a second." On the other hand, our conscious mind can only focus on about 50. Because of the RAS, we can solve the problem to survive. Our brain does not bother processing stories. It focuses on issues and their immediate solutions.
Damon wants Sarah to share her formula of brevity. She says we need seven to ten words to make a mark. "It's like a billboard." Describe the problem and the solution accordingly.
Nevertheless, Damon believes that we must read many words to get to the solution on a website. Sarah agrees with Damon and shares her recipe for successful content writing. When she writes, she tries to make it poetic. She sends the copy to the designer. But they ask her to discard half of them because they can't have that many words.
Moreover, she describes the word limit for various documents. For example, testimonials should be only one sentence. Secondly, we must use bullet points so people can skim through our content.
Similarly, she advises using alliterative, poetical, and rhyming words to make content catchy. Likewise, she mentions Kindra Hall, a storytelling keynote speaker, and hails her as "a great author." She knows the art of engaging readers. "Using details will anchor people into the stories and help them see themselves in your stories." Damon finds it "really incredible."
Sarah shares a piece of advice for business owners. She thinks they should be "in the trenches, building revenue, building systems, creating dreams, [and] having a passion." No doubt, anybody can write. "But are the words going to convert?" she continues, "Are they optimized for Google for keywords?" Moreover, she believes that copy must be optimized so that humans can understand and decide to take action. She encourages the listeners that if they value growth, they should find people in the team who can support their vision.
Sarah thinks that business owners must take advantage of Black Friday. She believes people will spend over $13 billion on this day. Instead of substantial inflation, retailers are offering exceptional discounts and gift hampers. He further believes that the momentum stimulated by Black Friday will not end anytime soon. It may continue until the end of January.
Furthermore, she has shared a key to Black Friday on her website. It is a step-by-step guide for entrepreneurs to reap the maximum benefit from the event. JamboJon has a workbook to prepare businesses for Thanksgiving and Yummy Turkey.
Damon seeks Sarah's expert opinion on AI-generated copy. She says that every coin has two sides. "It is so cool that the capability of our technology is that literally, you can type in a keyword," and it will create a new version of the website. Theoretically, it is a fantastic idea. However, Google recently announced in their latest update that they are going "to ding you if you have a copy on your website." It will discourage AI-generated content.
Moreover, she clarifies whether transcription counts as a copy. "There is no." This is because everything is fine if we record a video and you put it in an AI tool and transcript it.
Damon mentions Marcus Sheridan, an accomplished writer. He adds that the latter suggests that a website must incorporate some questions even if their answers are not an excellent fit for the publisher. Agreeing with Damon, Sarah answers that in the past, we used to write noun-based keywords in the Google search box and hit it. Thanks to Siri and other virtual assistants, our search has become question-based.
While talking about the importance of questions, Sarah comments that Google wants us to provide the most relevant answer to customers' questions. Because if Google's customers, the searchers, are not satisfied with the results Google provides, they will go to other search engines to find answers. "So, Google prioritizes their customers, their searchers, over their website holders because they want the most relevant answers to the questions."
The host asks Sarah about her most challenging web development project. According to her, it is www.smithrexall.com, a pharmaceutical website in Utah County. The project was challenging because it has an ecommerce store and online quizzes. It has a Learning Management Portal and an online directory for doctors. "We're adding classes, new providers, and 100+ skews."
Sarah concludes the discussion with optimistic comments. She believes she is building the future. She is playing a role "in American and worldwide cultures." She will contribute to prosperity for future generations. She hopes to provide hope and resources to her customers. "And storytelling is a great way to do that."
Damon feels blessed to host Sarah for her piercing insights and enormous knowledge of the human psyche, storytelling, and content writing.
The discussion ends with Damon thanking Sarah for her time.