Disgusting BathroomIn a restau­rant, clean bath­rooms por­tend clean kitchens, or so says the cliche.

Regard­less of how rea­son­able it is or isn’t, we instinc­tively attempt to con­firm a “brand promise” of atten­tion to detail in the kitchen by look­ing for evi­dence of it through­out the rest of the restaurant.

We believe in inter­nal con­sis­tency - a belief that’s hardly lim­ited to restaurants.

Clean Bath­rooms and Your Website’s UVP

where should the Unique Value Propo­si­tion go on my Website?”

Peo­ple often ask me that, and — with the clean bath­room the­ory firmly in mind — I usu­ally reply with a ques­tion of my own: “where does the cho­rus or refrain go in a song?”

Some­times it comes off as a bit of a non-sequitur, but a lit­tle guided dis­cov­ery quickly estab­lishes the fol­low­ing points about song refrains:

  1. The refrain car­ries the theme of the song.  Even when you can’t remem­ber the name of the song, you’ll usu­ally recall the refrain, because that’s the heart of the song
  2. The rest of the song fleshes out, sub­stan­ti­ates, and sup­ports the refrain.  The stan­zas and the refrain are inti­mately connected.
  3. The refrain is repeated over and over, and in the best songs, each rep­e­ti­tion gains mean­ing and emo­tional weight from the stan­zas that pre­ceded it.

To see how this works online, sim­ply sub­sti­tute “UVP” for “refrain” and “Web­site” for “song” and here’s what you get:

  1. The UVP car­ries the theme of the Web­site.  In other words the rea­son vis­i­tors would want to do busi­ness with you should lie at the heart of your online mes­sag­ing.  If it’s not, you’re spend­ing too much time talk­ing about what you want to talk about rather than what’s impor­tant to the customer.
  2. The rest of the Web­site should flesh out, sub­stan­ti­ate, and sup­port your UVP.  Peo­ple will look to see if you back-up what you claim. If the rest of your site doesn’t jibe with the UVP, you’ll lose cred­i­bil­ity and, ulti­mately, lose the sale.
  3. The UVP is repeated over and over (though not ver­ba­tim or in entirety) from dif­fer­ent angles or per­spec­tives, such that the claims and promises gain weight, cred­i­bil­ity, and emo­tional res­o­nance with each click or page.

The Bot­tom Line:

Treat­ing your UVP as a song refrain helps to insure inter­nal consistency

It forces you to check your own site for clean bath­rooms.  So when vis­i­tors look to cor­rob­o­rate your claims by cross ref­er­enc­ing the var­i­ous ele­ments and pages of your Web­site, they’ll become increas­ingly reas­sured and con­fi­dent with each click.

For exam­ple, if you are a local con­trac­tor spe­cial­iz­ing in com­plet­ing base­ment ren­o­va­tions and garage enclo­sures in half the time of tra­di­tional con­trac­tors, your Web vis­i­tors will expect to see your claimed spe­cialty and value propo­si­tion reflected in your:

  • prior work history,
  • qualifications/certifications
  • gallery of projects,
  • guar­an­tees,
  • tes­ti­mo­ni­als, etc.

If each of those ele­ments speaks to your spe­cial­ized focus and your half-the-time claims, you’ll win a lot more leads.  If they don’t sup­port your UVP, your vis­i­tors will likely go else­where for their renovations.

Also, if you claim to only hire the best, expect a fair amount of prospec­tive cus­tomers click­ing through your employ­ment pages to see what your REAL stan­dards of employ­ment are. And you bet­ter have “clean bath­rooms” because this ain’t the­ory, I’ve sat and watched vis­i­tors do exactly that via ana­lyt­ics and ser­vices such as Click Tales, OnTar­get, and Tea Leaf.

A Video­cast Full of Great “Clean Bath­room” Specifics for Websites

A great video-cast/discussion on this topic was cre­ated by my fel­low Wiz­ard of Ads Part­ner, Dave Young, when he dis­cusses the cred­i­bil­ity cues he inten­tion­ally baked into the Web­site for Roof Life of Ore­gon.

Please enable Javascript and Flash to view this Vid­dler video.

So go take a fresh look at your Web­site and ask yourself:

  • Have you woven a refrain through­out your Website’s messaging?
  • How does each page of your site work to sub­stan­ti­ate and cor­rob­o­rate your main claims/UVP?


  1. John Marklin on 10.27.2009


    I really enjoyed today’s blog.

    I have been redesign­ing my site (still in progress) with some of these points in mind. Good to see you recon­firm my strat­egy; to entice log­i­cal and slow busi­ness own­ers that I can fix inef­fi­cien­cies and bot­tle­necks in their busi­ness to improve the bot­tom line.

    My ques­tion is this. In Dave’s pre­sen­ta­tion, he shows snip­pets cater­ing to each type of per­son­al­ity on each page, it seems. This seems to me to muddy up the page. Would it not be best to sim­plify the pages and go after one or two types? I know you are giv­ing up some busi­ness, but why not go after the cus­tomer pro­file you want?

    Just a thought.


  2. Jeff on 10.27.2009


    Inter­est­ing ques­tion. On one hand, you def­i­nitely want to tai­lor your mes­sag­ing and mate­r­ial to your best cus­tomers. On the other hand, busi­nesses fre­quently limit their mar­ket sim­ply because their mes­sag­ing only appeals to a frac­tion of their poten­tial audi­ence. In the absence of per­sonas or tem­pera­ments to write to, busi­ness own­ers often write to them­selves, so they appeal to one of four per­sonas well, but not so well to the other three. I’ve seen this hap­pen more than a few times, actu­ally, where my client was con­vinced that such and such a per­son­al­ity type didn’t like their prod­uct or ser­vice or com­pany, only to find out that some changes to mes­sag­ing added a whole boat­load of that per­son­al­ity type into their cus­tomer base.

    I’d bal­ance the two thoughts by say­ing that the cus­tomer pro­file you want usu­ally isn’t deter­mined strictly by tem­pera­ment. You might be able to exclude a tem­pera­ment type or two, but for the most part, not so much. Dig­ging past tem­pera­ment to look at pre­cip­i­tat­ing events, philo­soph­i­cal world views, life stage, demo­graph­ics, etc. can help you zoom in on the cus­tomer you want. THEN you can make sure your mes­sag­ing appeals to those peo­ple regard­less of what decision-making style they pre­fer. In other words, you over­lay tem­pera­ment ON TOP OF other cus­tomer qual­i­fiers, rather than using tem­pera­ment as the sole deter­mi­nant of who your cus­tomer is.

    Hope that clears things up. If not, feel free to send me an e-mail or a Direct Mes­sage via twitter.

    - Jeff

  3. Shane Arthur on 12.16.2009

    I just did a small web­site and can see where I could improve the client’s site.

    To answer John, I’d say each of us flows from each sec­tor of the chart on occa­sion. Some­times I want to be ana­lyt­i­cal and detailed when I search a site. Some­times, I’m in a cre­ative, wow-me-with-graphics mood. Besides I believe these ele­ments exert their effects on a sub­con­scious level any­way, so by using as many as you can hits the brain at mul­ti­ple angles with­out peo­ple con­sciously know­ing it.

    Nice video indeed.

  4. Jeff on 12.16.2009


    I’d def­i­nitely agree with that. The Myers-Briggs pref­er­ences are just that — pref­er­ences. I might oper­ate out of a Competitive/NT pref­er­ence most of the time, but I can def­i­nitely buy in Spon­ta­neous mode when I’m on Vacation!

    - Jeff

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