Website Content – It’s All About The Why?

By Jerry Bader (c) 2008
Every week I get asked to look at business websites and tell the
owners why they’re not getting the results they want. Some of
these sites are straightforward brochures, others are e-commerce
catalogs, and some are those direct-mail-style pitches
reminiscent of old mail-order magazine subscription schemes
ported-over to the Web. Some have incorporated do-it-yourself
audio and video and some even had this media professionally
produced; still the results stink. Why?

‘The Close’ Is Always Found In ‘The Why’
Certainly part of the problem stems from a very narrow
definition of what a website is: by casting your site in terms
of a brochure, catalog, e-commerce-site, blog, or portal, you
are falling into the trap of concentrating on ‘The What’
rather than on ‘The Why’.
This focus on ‘The What’ is exacerbated by some search engine
optimization techniques intended to drive traffic, not to brand
product, sell services, or convert traffic into customers.
Don’t get me wrong, traffic is important, but converting that
traffic into paying customers is more important. Even the best
and brightest search engine optimizers will tell you that their
job is to deliver traffic not orders – closing the deal is your
job, and anybody who tells you that closing can be done by means
of some automatic never-touched-by-human-hands method is just
plain nuts.
What you want to be careful of is search engine tactics and
second rate media that actually gets in the way of effectively
delivering your marketing message, of telling your business
story, of creating a memorable brand image, and above all of
generating profitable business clients.
Web-Video is a Presentation Marketing Strategy
If you pay any attention to what’s going on, you must be aware
of the shift in Web-thinking and the acceptance of Web-video as
a fundamental Web-marketing tool. But like most things, there is
a right way and a whole bunch of wrong ways to do it.
Web-video is a presentation marketing strategy thats strength
and power comes from its ability to overcome the Web’s natural
sterile, isolationist environment, by incorporating verbal and
non-verbal human elements that effectively deliver bold,
well-crafted memorable messages. Can a Web-video campaign cure
everything that’s wrong with your company, or even your sales
departments deficiencies? Of course not, but the right message
based on ‘The Why’ using appropriate cost effective
presentation techniques can position your business, brand your
product, and generate sales leads.
Don’t fool yourself: you and your sales staff have to close the
sale. Do not expect to sit back and count your profits while
your website runs your business by default. Automatic pilot may
work for sites that sell commodity items and nationally branded
merchandise backed by millions of dollars of advertising, but
unless you fall into that category, it’s time to get real.
A New Web Paradigm
Here’s a new way of looking at your website and if you ‘get
it’ you will be able to refashion your site and reinvent your
business in a way that gets you remembered and initiates action
by your target market:
Start thinking of your website as a stage and all the content on
it as players you direct in order to deliver your message and
tell your story in a memorable manner to a relevant audience.
So let’s breakdown this Web-presentation model and analyze how
it meets your marketing needs.
Your Website Is a Stage
Businesses who want to use their websites as a marketing vehicle
have to get past thinking of them in terms of merely digital
print media.
Just as damaging is the over-reliance on search optimization or
IT technical solutions that have little or no relationship to
marketing’s primary goal of delivering a memorable message that
initiates action on the part of the audience.
Knowing the age, sex and hat size of the last ten thousand
visitors to your site may impress some, but reams of statistical
information on your visitors doesn’t necessarily mean you know
what that data means or how to use it effectively. In the same
vein, tons of traffic generated by the latest SEO manipulation
doesn’t necessarily translate into business.
Start thinking of your website as a stage, a presentation and
performance platform that allows your company to present your
message to your audience in an entertaining, informative, and
memorable manner.
Tell Your Story In A Memorable Manner
There are many ways to present what you do and why your audience
should care, but the most effective way is to deliver that
information in a story format. When people come to your website
they are putting you on trial, judging everything thing you
present to see if it is relevant, convincing, and if it
resonates with their needs.
The article, “Evidence Evaluation in complex decision making,”
in the ‘Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,’ by
Pennington and Hastie explains when prosecutors tell their
version of events to a jury in story-format they are able to
achieve a 78% conviction rate, whereas lawyers who do not use a
story-format to communicate to juries only get a 31% guilty
rate. When visitors come to your website they are putting you on
trial for your Web-business life.
Memorable Communication is All About the Performance
Effective communication begins with the campaign concept. If you
don’t have a well-defined, focused concept that deals with
‘the why anybody should care factor’, your communication will
be muddy and irrelevant. Far too many marketing campaigns try to
do too much, and in an effort to get your money’s worth say
everything and anything that comes to mind. Unfortunately, all
you’re really doing is confusing people and your core message
never gets heard, let alone understood or remembered.
You need professional presenters who know how to use both verbal
and non-verbal performance to get your message across, and of
course you’ve got to give the presenters a script that is well
written, entertaining, and informative.
Professional actors and voice-over talent bring infinite
subtlety, nuance, and meaning to cleverly written scripts. Add
sound effects, custom signature music and a few post-production
enhancements and you have a memorable presentation.
What you don’t need is complicated sets, props, and locations
that increase the cost of production. The Web is not television,
and there is no need to absorb inflated expenses based on ad
agency cost-plus-pricing fees that bare little relation to
Expensive movie-style productions are just not necessary and
lose their impact when delivered in relatively small
Web-friendly formats that need to be easily integrated with
additional collateral material used to present more details and
to answer frequently asked questions.
Last But Not Least
We can learn a lot from children, not the least of which is
their relentless quest for the answer to ‘The Why’ of things.
We often forget that this is the central issue in our lives, and
it is only after we’ve been told by parents, teachers, bosses
and numerous other authority figures to shut-up and do what
we’re told, that we sublimate this need and replace it with the
far less meaningful and convincing ‘What.’
But if we as marketers can put our faith in delivering ‘The
Why’ using the most people-friendly techniques of verbal and
non-verbal digital communication, then we will have learned how
to present a convincing memorable Web-marketing presentation.
Jerry Bader is Senior Partner at MRPwebmedia.

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