Meet Toby Duckett: a man on a mission
Websites age — sometimes at an alarming rate. Content gets stale and layouts lose their appeal. As a dedicated small business website doctor, this month’s Valuable Content Award winner — Toby Duckett of Human Measures — knows all about websites that need some TLC. And even some that require emergency surgery.
But Toby is not just another website guy — he’s a man on a mission. Toby is out to save the world from shoddy website developers that often leave their customers high and dry with a website they don’t know how to use.
So what’s different about Toby? He builds great websites — then he trains his customers to use them, putting them in control and he promises to be there for them for the lifetime of the website. Refreshing isn’t it?
Like us, Toby’s a big fan of content marketing. He blogs, publishes valuable tutorials and engages with his audience on social media. He’s also written a free e-book all about website design. And thanks to his helpful and honest approach and very supportive website, Toby’s business is going from strength to strength — and he only launched in April this year. That’s why we’re delighted to present him with this month’s Valuable Content Award.
Here, Toby tells us more about his unique approach — read on for inspiration.
Q: Tell us a little about what you do
“A website is never finished. You need a relationship with someone who can support you along the way.”
A: “I am a web developer and website designer and I am on a mission to save the world from all the bad developers out there!
So many people are getting ripped off by their website designers. I have heard too many horror stories. It’s absolutely rife. I launched my business in April and it is going really well — there’s clearly a need for a more honest and transparent approach to building websites. In fact, I offer people who have had a bad experience with their website the chance to get a free web design service from me. A website is never finished. You need a relationship with someone who can support you along the way.
Q: What’s your approach to marketing?
“My philosophy is to go out and help.”
A: “In terms of marketing and promotion, my philosophy is to go out and help. I’m not going to send loads of sales messages and spam.
Since I launched, I have tried out a whole new way of marketing. I do my research and approach prospects with mock-ups of what their websites could look like. I give them three options and say ‘here’s what you could do to improve your website’.
The response has been fantastic. I was a bit worried at first because I am not one to use a cold list. But I targeted people who had websites that really needed work and I have had a great response.
I send them PDFs so they can take the designs to another designer if they want. I like to give them a choice, but I have actually got a lot of business from this approach. I think a lot of people stop really seeing how their website looks, they just get used to it.
I have also had success with word of mouth. I guess people can see I really want to help. Referrals have been great. It’s like good karma in business.”
Q: What type of content do you like to share?
A: “I offer advice on my website in my blog and use social media to spread the word about useful content. It’s very much the Valuable Content approach!
Blogging was a struggle to begin with — there is a fear of putting stuff out there. My approach is to offer help and advice that simplifies things and I find things that I want to write about and that are of interest to others. I have done several tutorials that people have found really useful. And I’ve written an e-book about website design.
I use all the social media sites. I used to use Twitter a lot but now I have noticed that it is increasingly just a place where people link to their blogs — the tweets are all statements with a link. So I have been focusing more on LinkedIn where I have joined some groups.
I have also started using Facebook and, in fact, that’s where a lot of my new business has come from. Facebook seems to be a place where you can be yourself and it allows you to use images and more wording.”
Has any content worked particularly well for you?
“My ‘About Me’ page is a love letter to potential clients about how I want to go out and help other people”
“One piece of content that has really grabbed people’s attention is my ‘About Me’ page. People really seem to like it. It’s more of a love letter to potential clients about how I want to go out and help other people than it is about me. It comes from the heart and is very genuine and I think that’s what people want.”
Q: What’s next for your content?
A: “I want to mix it up more and bring in more user experiences into my blogs. Also, I want to cover the marketing side of running your website, not just the design. It’s not all about flashy buttons.
I also want to get the message across that it doesn’t take a huge adjustment to make a massive difference to your website. But you have to start with content and then work around that. A lot of people focus on design issues and don’t think about content until a website is finished. But I always ask what are you going to fill this up with? And then I design around that.”
Q: Do you have tips for other businesses?
“As long as you are doing what you love then you will succeed.”
A: “I would say to other business owners — stick with it. As long as you are doing what you love then you will succeed. It’s all about having fun.
I’ve learned that being helpful is one of the most important things you can do. I also think being yourself makes a huge difference. If people don’t feel you are being genuine then they are less likely to trust you. Be open and honest and start a conversation in business as you would with a friend almost. It’s hard to dislike someone who genuinely loves what they do and wants to help you.
Oh yeah and write blog posts! You need to talk to the world and bring attention to what you are doing and who you are. Don’t be afraid to wave at people, if they like what you do they’ll wave back and come over to see more. I’m still getting the hang of that but I’m getting there.
I want to use my website as a portal to all the things people would need to know to do these things themselves. A website might be the main window to a business these days, but it’s what you do outside of it that will bring in the customers.”
A well deserved award, Toby Duckett. Your approach is so inspiring.
I should say that I’ve worked with Toby for a few years now, getting his help with our marketing tech. I’ve watched the evolution of his business and his confidence grow over that time.
I think Toby would agree that he was nervous and perhaps a bit cynical about marketing at the start but by focusing on helping, not selling he’s promoting himself naturally, building strong relationships and getting great results.
Keep it up Toby. You’re doing an amazing job.
P.S. If you’re looking to improve your website yourself check out Toby’s free e-book – ‘The Golden Rules of Website Design‘.