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