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Website Content - It's All About The Why?

Mar 26, 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 brightness 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 that's 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 vain, 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 to 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 effectiveness.

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.
About the Author
Jerry Bader is Senior Partner at MRPwebmedia, a website design firm that specializes in Web-audio and Web-video. Visit http://www.mrpwebmedia.com/ads, http://www.136words.com, and http://www.sonicpersonality.com. Contact at info@mrpwebmedia.com or telephone (905) 764-1246.
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