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How to Transform Your Website into a Lead Generation Machine with Alastair McDermott

February 12, 2024
The Recognized Authority Podcast Cover

The podcast that helps experts & consultants on the journey to becoming a recognized authority in your field, so you can increase your impact, command premium fees, work less hours, and never have to suffer a bad-fit client again!.

Are you a consultant struggling to generate leads from your website? Does your site feel more like an online brochure than a lead gen machine?

In this episode of The Recognized Authority, host Alastair McDermott outlines the key differences between passive “trust-building” websites and more active, inbound marketing-focused sites designed specifically for lead generation.

Tune in to discover:

  • The 2 main types of websites used by consultants and professional services firms
  • When a more passive website is appropriate vs when you need an active inbound marketing site
  • How to transform your website into a lead generation machine
  • Vital elements your site needs for effective lead gen
  • The power of content and SEO to attract and convert ideal prospective clients
  • Why niche positioning is crucial for compelling content that converts

If your consulting website isn’t delivering leads, this episode will give you a step-by-step blueprint for evolving it into an effective inbound marketing machine.

👉👉 Download your free website audit checklist here 👈👈

Show Notes

Key Insights:

  • Most consultants rely on referrals, so passive websites that build trust/credibility are common
  • Active sites with inbound marketing tactics are better for attracting and converting cold leads
  • Key elements: conversion actions (contact forms, opt-ins), niche positioning, regular publishing of high-value content
  • SEO and content marketing generate traffic and leads on autopilot
  • Tighter niche positioning enables creation of compelling content that converts cold visitors


  • Use opt-in incentives like checklists/guides to collect emails
  • Set up email autoresponder sequences to build trust/relationships
  • Focus on creating niche-specific, high-value content regularly
  • Prioritize SEO optimization and promotion of content

Guest Bio


website, content, professional services, positioning, building, talk, authority, creating, emails, referral, lead generation, inbound, people, podcast, conversion, opt, messaging, trust, content strategy, substituting

Voiceover, Alastair McDermott


Alastair McDermott  00:01

Two episodes ago in Episode 156, I outlined the 10 essential elements of a successful website for experts and consultants. And during that episode, I described the two different types of website in the professional services space. And that is the more common passive trust building brand website, which is used by the majority who have a lead generation strategy that is mostly based on referrals. And then the second less common type of website, which is a more proactive Authority building website that is used by those who are doing inbound lead generation by becoming known as authorities and thought leaders in their field. So today, I’m going to talk about what the difference is between those two different websites. I’m going to go into more detail on the second type of website, the proactive Authority building website, and I’m going to give you some practical actionable advice on how you can turn your website from that more passive website into a more proactive inbound lead generation machine.


Voiceover  00:56

Welcome to The Recognized Authority, a podcast that helps specialized consultants and domain experts on your journey to become known as an authority in your field. Here’s your host, Alastair McDermott,


Alastair McDermott  01:08

today’s episode is brought to you by WebsiteDoctor, which is my other brand, alongside The Recognized Authority. WebsiteDoctor is a small web design agency that focuses on creating websites for professional services, experts, consultants, and people in the B2B professional services expertise space.


Alastair McDermott  01:24

And in fact, that’s where The Recognized Authority came from. When I wanted to create a, an add on or focus on the authority building part of the puzzle. WebsiteDoctor still runs in the background. And we’ve been building websites since day one in 2007. In fact, I’ve personally been building websites since 1996. So Been there, done that and bought that T shirt. So if you’re looking for a website for your expertise based business, then check out and schedule a call with me, I’d love to chat with you, and see if it’s a good fit. The link is in the show notes, or you can visit WebsiteDoctor – all spelled out – .com. And now on with the episode.


Alastair McDermott  01:59

Here’s a super quick recap of the previous episode. So I conducted some research where I surveyed over 1000 consultants, about their marketing their websites, and I asked a lot of different questions about how they do marketing, and what’s important for them. And to be honest, in that research, I was shocked by the lack of investment and interest in websites by professional services. And so what I realized was that websites actually are not as crucial for referral based businesses, which is the majority of consultants and professional services out there.


Alastair McDermott  02:32

Because they are very dependent, heavily dependent on referrals and word of mouth for lead generation. And inbound marketing, which is typically content marketing, or in the context of professional services is kind of authority marketing or education marketing, that is not as prevalent in professional services as it is in other industries. And so I was really interested in this, in part because I have a professional services expertise based business. And so when I looked at these two different types of website, where we have this passive brand building website, where the goal is simply to look professional and meet the bar, when somebody gets a word of mouth referral, and goes checks you out. Then there’s this other type of more active inbound marketing Authority building website, which is more about building trust when somebody is coming to you cold. So what we’re talking about here is the difference between these passive trust building brand websites that don’t actively generate leads. So these are more for showing somebody who’s been referred to you through word of mouth, that you’re actually legitimate. Your goal here with this kind of website is simply to look legitimate meet the bar. And that’s what I was talking about in the last episode. The difference with the more active lead generation inbound marketing style website, is that with this kind of website, so first of all, you’ve got to have some sort of inbound strategy around it. So for example, I use a podcast as part of that, and you’re listening to right now. Or some people will use the website itself, like search engine optimization to attract visitors. And some people will use social media. And some people will combine all of those. So lots of different ways to approach this. So there’s the attraction part. And that is where we get people from. And then there’s the conversion part, which is where we convert visitors into leads oriented customers in some way into clients in some way. And so that conversion can be a number of different things. So we’re operating in this inbound marketing strategy, where people who have never heard of you before who are cold to you, and they encounter your body of work for the first time. And in this scenario, they’re visiting your website. In an ideal scenario, this person reaches directly to you and says, Hey, I’d love to have a conversation without working about working with you. That’s the best case scenario. And so you have the ability for somebody to do that in your website, and then have some sort of contact form or booking form where they can schedule a call, that’s quite typical. You can also choose if your business is set up this way to have your phone number directly on there. So that’s for anybody who has a premises and the receptionist on staff, or maybe you have an answering service. Or maybe you’re even willing to field incoming phone calls yourself. And that’s not for me, but I understand that for some people, that might be the way that they want to do things. So personally, I want people to book in onto my calendar, after filling in a form, I don’t want to be interrupted with calls.


Alastair McDermott  05:40

So that’s the ideal scenario, if somebody reaches out directly and says, Hey, I want to work with you. But there’s quite often the case that somebody is not ready to talk to you about purchasing your services right away by working with you. So what can we do with those people? Well, in this scenario, we want to make it so that they have the ability to continue to hear from you in some way. And often, this is an email opt in. So give us your email address, we’ll send you some resources, and then we’ll continue to send you emails to build a relationship and build trust with you. It could be that you do some other type of opt in, that’s not email, like for example, you might not have them to subscribe to your podcast or your YouTube channel, or both. That’s an option. And we used to have the option of subscribing to blogs, that’s become much less common. But it’s that kind of concept of somebody sticking around to hear from you on a more regular basis. You want them to opt into that.


Alastair McDermott  06:40

And with that, then you’re building trust, there is another option for people who are not ready to work with you directly. And as an alternative to subscribing, there is the option of actually selling them something immediately, like an information product. And so that could be like a book and ebook, a workbook, some sort of online training course some kind of digital products, something that helps them to solve their problem. And this is something that is typically a little bit more advanced than is doing by people who are a little bit later stage or done by companies that are a little bit later stage where they already have quite a bit of content created, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this to somebody who’s just starting right out the gate.


Alastair McDermott  07:23

But in terms of conversion actions, this is a really typical sequence, that the first priority is to have somebody reach out to you in some way. The next priority down is to have somebody continue to listen to you to continue to follow you in some way. And then adding later maybe the ability to have some sort of purchase. And so then let’s look at this. In terms of the authority building website, the primary goal of the authority building website is for people to take one of those actions to convert like that. And in the context of the passive website, the passive trust building website, the goal there is to just meet the bar of looking legitimate. And usually you’ll have some sort of basic conversion, as well in terms of having contact information. But that’s not even essential, because this person who’s been referred to you does have the referral, the word of mouth, and they probably already have your contact information from that. But the bar that you need to meet is probably that you have that contact information already available on your website. That’s one of those things, that is pretty logical, pretty obvious.


Alastair McDermott  08:34

Okay, let’s talk more about the more active lead generation Authority building website. In particular, I want to talk about the content part of the puzzle, the authority piece. And this is the really fundamental difference between these passive trust building type websites that don’t tend to have a lot of content, they tend to be quite thin content, and facts, sometimes referred to as brochure websites. I don’t really like that term, but I can see why people use that. And the authority building website typically has content and which is growing on a continuous basis. And that’s usually tax content, like blog posts and articles. Sometimes there is video content, sometimes there’s audio content like podcasts. Quite often, there’s a blog. And I know in professional services, there’s sometimes an aversion to using the word blog because it feels a little bit too informal. But the concept here is you’re building a body of work on your website publishing regularly. And this does a couple of things. So first thing is it’s a body of work on your website that people can browse through and navigate through if they’re interested in looking at your website. And it’s also content that you can link to and distribute or send traffic to in some other way that is typically through social media, or even with search engine optimization, which is one of those maybe more advanced techniques for getting traffic and getting eyeballs on your content, and we’ll talk about that a little bit later as well. Okay, just to recap what we’ve talked about so far. Number one is we talked about these ads through conversion elements and the ability to allow somebody to subscribe to content. And the second thing is for there to be this content, this authority building educational content, which typically we want our ideal prospective clients to read, or to consume in some way. And that will build trust with them and build their trust in us and building authority. And that is what substitutes for personal recommendation in the word of mouth referral, we’re using our content to substitute for the recommendation. So we don’t necessarily have to have that content on our website, we could have a podcast, a YouTube channel, a LinkedIn profile all of that.


Alastair McDermott  10:39

And you could, you could even do it without ever having a website or mentioning your website, I’m sure that could be convenient for some businesses. But I think that you’re losing the whole benefit of having your own website, which is that it’s a centralized hub for your brand, that you have total control over. There’s nowhere else online apart from your own website, where you have total control over the branding, the messaging, the appearance, the call to action, everything. And that’s why I think the website is so important for an authority business, you get to make all those changes, set it up in the most effective way for you on your business. And you can also change and iterate and test, which is really important because you can test what’s working, what’s not working. So if we consider that the job of the website in this more proactive Authority building scenario is to attract new visitors. And that can be a big part of it, and then convert those visitors, that’s the other part of it. And that conversion is possibly a subscription, possibly booking a call or calling directly or emailing directly or using a contact form, or even in some scenarios, purchasing some kind of information product. And the attraction part is where your website actually starts with track people in. And this is typically going to be done passively through search engine optimization, where you’re creating content, and it starts to generate leads for you. And your website starts to generate traffic by appearing in the search results. And then you can also be a bit more proactive by sharing your content and social media.


Alastair McDermott  12:03

And there’s some other piece of puzzle here that are quite important. I think people don’t talk enough about it, because it’s something that should just be taken care of, particularly by your web designer and people like that. And those are things like the design elements of your website, and typography and things like that. I talked a bit about this in the last episode. But I just want to emphasize how important the appearance and ease of use of your website is, in terms of reading your content, your text content, in particular, because the experience when somebody is reading your text content will have a major impact on the level of trust that they have with you. It’s not just how good the text is that you’re writing the ideas, the concepts, how it looks is important. We judge books by their cover, we judge people buy their appearance, we judge websites and brands, by their appearance, and by the ability to get to the point by the ability to read the text. And so I’m talking about you know, how legible is the text on screen is it easy for people to read on different devices, contrast, line, height, color, all of that kind of stuff. I talked about this a bit more detail in the last episode. It seems like I’m talking about more detail here and in a way that it is. But it’s an important detail, particularly when you’re talking about the importance of content in building trust. Because remember, this content is what is substituting for that personal recommendation.


Alastair McDermott  13:22

And I think kind of the same way about website’s speed. And so as a business owner, I think that you should never be focused specifically tactically on how to speed up your website, somebody else should be taking care of that for you. But I think that it is something that you should know, hey, that’s something that needs to be done. And I feel the same way about typography and other elements of the website. The other basic stuff. It’s a bit like you no matter who you are, what car you drive, your car should be serviced on a regular basis, even if that’s not you, and it probably should not be you that’s servicing it. So we’re probably agreed that you shouldn’t be servicing your car, or fixing your website to speed it up, you should be bringing in somebody to do it for you. But here’s what I think you should be doing it yourself. I think that you should be creating the content yourself. And in fact, you should have created a content strategy for yourself a content strategy for your business that will attract inbound leads. Because when you create the right type of content, it will attract your ideal client. And that’s what we should be focusing on as a business owner. And as an expert in our field, not in those tactical elements. We just need to know that the tactical elements need to be taken care of.


Alastair McDermott  14:35

Okay, so just to recap again, the more proactive websites primary goal is to convert the visitor into make an inquiry if they’re not making an inquiry then into becoming some sort of subscriber or follower. Your email subscription is probably the ideal scenario, because we control the relationship and own the relationship with them when they subscribe to our email list. Unlike for example, if they’re a YouTube subscriber, or follow us on LinkedIn or some other third party platform. So ideal scenario number one is they they inquire to work with us directly. Number two, they subscribe to our email list number three, maybe they follow us on social media or a podcast or something. All of those are positive things. We want people to enter our universe in different ways. And to find our body of work and decide to follow us, maybe they’ll find us first on LinkedIn, or YouTube or listen to the podcast, and then they follow links, and then they arrive on the website, which then brings them on to the next step. So we want the website to do that job of making it easy to navigate, read your content, making it easy to find you on your socials. And then when you’ve got this proactive website setup, the next thing to do is to make sure that you’ve actually got some content for them to consume. And this is where you need to start creating trust building expertise demonstrating content.


Alastair McDermott  15:53

I see this all the time where businesses have people subscribe, and opt in to an email list. And then don’t actually follow up by sending them emails, it’s absolutely pointless to go to the time and effort and expense of collecting email addresses from prospective clients, and then follow up by actually emailing them. And you can set this up by setting up an email auto responder, but again, you need to have some messages that will go out as part of that auto responder. So and that’s something that you will see, for example, if you opt in to the website audit checklist that I mentioned, if you opt in to download, it will give you the email where it gives you a download link for the PDF. But then there’s actually a sequence of emails that follow up and go through and into more detail on each of those items. So you can check that out. If you go to the show notes for this episode, you can find where you can download that. And that’s just an example of having some sort of autoresponder sequence, which is just a series of emails that go out. And typically, that’s going to be based on the specific thing that you’ve offered them in terms of what is the lead magnet or the the the opt in incentive that you’ve given them. And your follow up sequence should be directly related to that.


Alastair McDermott  17:16

Okay, so we’ve spoken about these differences between this passive trust building website, and this more active authority building website that is more suitable for inbound lead generation, there was one other crucial element apart from the conversion elements, and having the content. And that’s the positioning, or more specifically, the messaging around the positioning on your website. So your positioning is, who your target market is, and what is the problem that you’re solving for them. And the messaging around that is just the language that you use to describe that, because we can wordsmith this quite a bit we can, we can have a particular positioning, and then change our messaging and tweak our messaging slightly. But overall, in this scenario, what I’m talking about here, we have these more passive websites that are just trust building on and are more appropriate for people who are running businesses based on referrals and word of mouth. And then we have these more active lead generation inbound type websites. And for the lead generation inbound type websites, your positioning needs to be tighter.


Alastair McDermott  18:29

So your positioning needs to be more niche. And the reason for that is because with the more referral word of mouth based lead generation, you are getting a warm referral. So if you have particularly generalist, maybe even bland positioning on your website, that’s okay, because they’ve already got that warm referral. But if somebody comes to your website, and they’re completely cold to you, and they see some super generalist positioning, they’re much more likely to move on and not be interested in what you have to say, because it doesn’t really speak to them. And this is having we’re more niche down specialized tighter positioning and messaging around your positioning is really important. Because when somebody who’s in your ideal target market stumbles across a piece of content, where you talk about the problem that they’re facing, and talk to them and their language, and they see that your positioning is addressing them and only them, they say hallelujah, they say this is for me. And it makes sense that it’s for them. And this is where your niche comes into play. The other part of this is when you have your tighter niche, or actually a different way to say this is if you don’t have tighter positioning and specialization, you won’t be able to create great content that will grab their attention, because the content that you’re going to be creating is going to be bland.


Alastair McDermott  19:53

And I’m speaking from personal experience with this when I tried to create generalized content about websites for Were businesses. And yes, that was as incredibly bland as it sounds, it was so hard to create content for that, because I had a full services agency that was targeting everybody and nobody at the same time. And in fact, I used to describe the content as having all the consistency of wallpaper paste with none of the stickiness. If you have tighter positioning, with a more narrowly defined target market, or a more narrowly defined problem area, that is when you start to write content that addresses your target audience in their language, they’ll recognize that you’re writing only for them because of the language that you’re using. And also, as you develop your specialization and your experience within that niche, you become more knowledgeable, and your content naturally becomes better, the mastering of your content is different, it’s more compelling, more appealing. And so those are the major differences that we’re talking about here.


Alastair McDermott  20:49

When it comes to these passive trust building websites for referrals and word of mouth based businesses, it you can get away with a lot more, when you are building a lead generation, authority building website that is going to generate leads for you in an inbound way, while you sleep. Yes, you can get to that. But you have to be much more proactive, you have to be much more willing to test things like your messaging, and you have to be much more active. It’s doing marketing and sales in a different way than the word of mouth and referral based type networking and sales and marketing.


Alastair McDermott  21:34

And in particular, you have to have your content strategy. So and this is based directly on your positioning, you have to have your positioning nailed down. And then you have to have a content strategy that is based on that. So who’s the target audience? What’s the problem that you’re solving for them? What’s the result that you’re getting for them? What is the transformation that you’re helping them to achieve? What are the topics that you’re going to talk about? What is the primary format that you’re going to use? So for me, for example, the primary format format of my flagship is my podcast you listen to right now. And then my secondary format tends to be text posts, one that I send out to my email list, and I put those up on LinkedIn every so often, as well.


Alastair McDermott  22:12

And then with your content strategy, think about the platforms or the channels that you’re using as well. So for me, in terms of social media, I have a primary social media channel, which is LinkedIn, my secondary a couple of years ago would have been Twitter. But now it’s more likely Instagram. And so you have this little content world, this little content strategy, you’ve got your primary format, your secondary format, your primary social media channel, your secondary, and these, this is content that you’re creating on a regular basis. And what happens is that when you generate that content, over a significant enough period of time, you’re developing your you’re thinking, you’re getting more experienced in your niche, you’re getting better at creating content. Google and other search engines are starting to notice that you have this body of work that you focus on a particular topic. And you get this confluence of events where your content starts to surface in front of more people. And it’s naturally more effective, because it’s better content. When people talk to you and listen to you and listen to the podcasts.


Alastair McDermott  23:10

For example, people listen to this podcast, they realize I have 158 other episodes, naturally, all that builds trust. And they see and they understand they start to develop this, what’s called a parasocial relationship. This is a one sided relationship, where effectively they start to build trust with you and start to feel like they know you. And this is again, what is substituting for the personal referral, it’s substituting for that word of mouth. And even if you’re writing text, they still get to know your voice. And, and then if you do video and podcasts like I do, then they start to feel like they know you really well. And know like and trust. That’s what we need to work with somebody to work in this professional services, which is this trust based, distrust base industry, because all of our business is based on relationships. And it is possible to build trust without that word of mouth – it’s just done in a different way.


Alastair McDermott  24:10

But if you can do it with your website with your content, then it can be super effective, because it is much more scalable. And that’s a really interesting thing about building authority and creating these inbound systems to generate leads. That’s why I love it. So thanks for listening to this. I hope you got something out of it.


Alastair McDermott  24:30

You can download the website audit checklist. If you download that it will give you an option to opt in to download a PDF and then you’ll get a sequence of I think five or six emails that come from me and then you get onto my regular email list as well. So you can see all of this in real world in real life, how this all works.


Alastair McDermott  24:49

So again, thanks for your time and attention in listening to me. Have a great week.

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