Products have product pages, but what do services have?

Well services generally get some kind of copy describing the service, but generally nothing describing the experience of working with the service provider. Nothing that’ll answer questions like:

  • How can I explore the possibility of working with you without getting a sales pitch or committing or even giving you the impression of a commitment?
  • What can I expect at each stage of the service or project?
  • How much contact and review and control will I have during this time?
  • When can I see the finished work?.

And leaving this stuff out of your copy is a fatal mistake.

If you’re selling a service rather than a product — or if you’re selling a customized or personalized product — it’s vital to get prospective customers as comfortable as possible with the process of hiring and working with you. More importantly, you must get them to imagine — in the most inviting and non-threatening a manner as possible — the benefits of receiving your services.

“People go only to places they have already been in their minds”

— Roy H. Williams

Now, there are plenty of ways to achieve both goals — getting the prospect comfortable in exploring the possibility of working with you AND getting them to imagine the process of working with you — but my favorite strategy for achieving this is what I call a “Mental Walk-Through” page, although it usually shows up in the navigation as something like, “Project Timelines,” or “Working With Us” or “The Process.”

So here they are.

7 Elements of a mental walkthrough page:

 1. Point of No Commitment

I originally called this the “Point of Commitment” until I realized I had it backwards: prospects want to know how far into the process the they can go before they have to pay/commit or at least before they get a serious sales pitch. And how confident will they be in what they’re buying/getting before they actually have to pull the trigger?

Note that there’s two ways of approaching this: a) emphasizing the low-key, “come check us out and see for yourself with no hassle or commitment because we’re that confident in our value” approach, or b) emphasizing the “I’m in way too high demand to waste time with tire kickers, and you’ll need to pay my gate keeper before I even talk with you” approach. Approach A is usually the one taken by the vast majority of mental walk-through pages.

2. Phases and Stages

What are the stages to this project or service? And why are the stages in the order that they are in? Also, if you do things a bit differently than others — because your way gets better results — make sure to explain that as part of the Phases and Stages element in your Mental Walk-Through. The same thing goes for any specific actions or review periods you include as “hand-holding measures” used to keep the client in control and confident. This is where you can brag about those things a bit.

3. Results and Upsides

How quickly till I see results? At what stage will I get to see mock-ups or will I notice my page rank improving. How soon till my child can play a complete song on the piano? When do the various indicators of progress show up, and how long until I can enjoy the first fruits, and when does the full or final payoff come.

People are impatient. Achieve clarity upfront on when they can start to see progress, results, milestones, etc.

4. Downsides

Be equally upfront about any dings and downsides they’ll experience along the way. An expected downside is way better than an unexpected one. So make sure to mention when and were downsides come in and how soon they go away or are eclipsed by the upsides.

If you create a mess when you knock down a wall for my add-on or rip out my old appliances and cabinetry for my kitchen renovation, how long till the mess is cleaned up, and how much longer until the new cabinets are in and how much after that until I get my kitchen back? If I should expect to be sore the next day, let me know. In fact, let me know how sore and for how long. If it’s a procedure, how long until the swelling goes down or until I can get back to work, and so on.

5. Options and Customization

How many ways can I upgrade to premium options or personalize this service or have it custom-tailored to my needs, and at what points in the process will I see this taking place? People who want things the way they want them are often anxious to make sure their requests have been taken into account and put into action. They want to make sure the final result is as planned in their mind’s eye. Use this page to put them at ease.

6. Testimonials

Every statement you make in your walk-through needs substantiation, just like any statement of claim on your site. If you tell me the redness from the laser skin treatment will subside by the next day or a few hours or whatever, put a customer testimonial to that effect right in the timeline/walk-through. If you tell me I’ll see the difference in my next energy bill, having a few testimonials to that effect will help. This is also a good place to put before and after pictures

7. Audio & Videos

Ever see cool time-lapsed photography or a super-speed video showing the growing of a plant or the construction of, well, anything? If you can put one of those together, do so. You can even slow down or pause the action at various stages of completion to show off benefits, before & after’s or whatever else.

I can think of nothing better at making the prospect feel as if the end result is worth the wait and disruption than a time-lapsed or super-speed video. Talk about mentally walking them through the project!

The Final Result

At the end of the walk-through, you’ll not only have added quite a bit of reassurance to your prospects, but you will have allowed them to have done business with you in their mind’s eye. They’ll have already gone there and done that in their imagination, making them that much more ready to go there and okay it for real. That’s why the end of the walk-through is an ideal place for a “next step” call-to-action.

So if you’re a small or local business specializing in services or customized products, try creating a “Doing Business With Us” or a “Project Timeline” page. You’ll be surprised at how many customers will quite quickly move from imagining doing business with you to actually doing business with you.