It's always a good idea to stick to the basics. When businesses stray too far from the fundamentals, problems arise, but sticking to the basics doesn't mean boring people into a state of unconsciousness. If web-visitors' eyes glaze-over upon entering your site, you've lost them before you've begun.
Web success is based on creative implementation of the basics, and that's where your web-marketing presentation should begin.
1. Web-audience response demands communication
The Web has a lot in common with television but there are fundamental differences; it is important for web-entrepreneurs to understand these differences and similarities, and learn from them.
Television and the Web are both communication environments, but television, like magazines and newspapers, are primarily advertising platforms. Of course there are plenty of websites around that follow the advertising financial model, but for the average business website, depending on third party advertising not only dilutes their marketing message and brand, but it also makes for a confusing and cluttered visual presentation.
Just because your website presents information, doesn't mean it's communicating it to your intended audience in any meaningful way. The manner in which you communicate your message is as important as the message itself. The medium is increasingly becoming the message, and even in situations where it isn't, it definitely shapes the message.
2. Web-audience response demands content
You have repeatedly heard the comment, 'content is king,' but we think, 'communication is king' because without communication your content is meaningless. But here's the dilemma, your information is basically advertising, after all you're in business, and business is about selling something - a product, a service, an idea, or your know-how. So the real underlying purpose of your website is to make that advertising message worth listening to, and to do that, you need to turn it into content.
To turn advertising into content you have to accept that sales take time. You have to be patient. You can't hurry a sale, you first have to build confidence; stop rushing the close and start thinking of selling as a courtship. You would never ask someone to get married on a first date, so why would you expect to get an order from a potential Web-client on their first visit.
3. Web-audience response demands courtship
No one is going to make a substantial financial commitment without reaching some level of comfort with who you are and what you do, and that requires some repeated contact: a courtship, or negotiation if you prefer.
Therein lies the similarity and difference between websites and television: the success of a television program is based on habituation. If you get people to tune-in every week on the same night, at the same time to see their favorite program, you will be able to keep delivering your marketing message through the commercials that pay for the content. In the same regard, if you can make your website interesting enough through the compelling presentation of content, you will get visitors to return again and again, each time gaining confidence and respect for what you do and what you sell.
The difference is people accept television commercials as the price they pay for free TV programming, but the same cannot be said for the Web. People want free information on the Web without the irritation and bother of ads; so the challenge for website owners is to turn their marketing message into compelling programming that creates habituation which is just another form of negotiation, or courtship of potential clients.
4. Web-audience response demands consistency
You hear the word strategy bandied about with little relevance to its precise meaning. In marketing terms, strategy is a big idea, a sustainable concept that you can build a business around.
Successful companies rarely change their strategies, a concept that should not be confused with tactics, which are the various methods used to implement strategy in order to secure the ultimate objectives.
Business has to be resilient and open-minded enough to adapt to an ever-changing business environment by constantly updating tactics, but strategy needs to be a constant, a touchstone or benchmark for implementing action. Staying on course requires confidence in the strategy with a vigilant eye on the big picture.
Websites that are nothing more than brochures or catalogs of product that anyone can purchase at the local mall or box store is a tactic that delivers little relevance to today's Web-savvy consumer. And the same can be said for the blatantly obvious direct marketing sites based on old magazine subscription techniques. The new multimedia communication-based Web requires new presentation tactics in order to successfully implement marketing strategy.
5. Web-audience response demands expectation
Successful marketing is not just about persuading people that what you have is what they need, it's about creating a series of deliverable expectations.
If you expect a product to be easy to use because that's what the marketing communication states, then that product better be easy to use. Effective marketing presentations not only prompt action but just as importantly they create a set of realistic, deliverable expectations.
Ask yourself, why do people mistrust politicians, car salesmen, and telemarketers? We all know the answer: many will say, and promise, just about anything to get your vote or order, and the result is a disgruntled, cynical voter or customer. Read my lips, no false expectations!
6. Web-audience response demands trust
When customers' expectations are met, you begin to create trust, and trust is one of the hardest things to achieve on a website that lacks any kind of human connection to the audience.
I can't tell you how many websites I've visited that make no effort to humanize their presentations, and consequently their businesses. When you go to a contact page and all that's there is a form to fill-in, with no contact name or phone number, it says to people, 'I really can't be bothered talking to you.' Hiding behind email tells people not to trust you, and if they don't trust you, they are not going to do business with you.
Business is about connecting to people, whether they are consumers, purchasing agents, or suppliers. If your website doesn't have some kind of human element like a video Web-host, audio message, or even a contact name and phone number, how can you expect to connect and build confidence, and trust in your intent to satisfy their needs?
7. Web-audience response demands personality
By building trust with your Web-audience you are also building your brand and defining your corporate personality. Here again we have a bit of a dichotomy since personality is a human-based characteristic, so how then can we create a personality and instill human characteristics into an inanimate entity like a business?
Corporate personality does not derive from a logo, packaging, or your website's aesthetic qualities. Corporate personality is the sum total of the collective experiences your audience has with your company. In the brick and mortar world, corporate personality is a result of dealing with people, sales people, receptionists, and telemarketers; in short personality is derived from interaction with real human beings.
Clever, well written website copy can help create personality as long as it is written in a distinctive human voice, but we know that 70% of all website text is never read; people skip to bulleted points and captions. But the same material delivered by a real person either through Web-audio or video, not only delivers the marketing message in the most memorable and compelling fashion, but it also defines the business personality and humanizes the website.
Two caveats: avatars are not people, and unless you can afford to hire the creators of the Simpsons to develop your animation, you best forget it; as well, using yourself or a non-professional as a spokesperson or Web-host is a dangerous practice, and speaks more to ego than it does to effective business development.
8. Web-audience response demands motivation
Lastly your website must communicate content that excites and motivates people to do business with you. The ability to motivate people isn't about what you're selling; it's about how you present it.
Motivational speakers, whether in the business, entertainment, personal coaching, or sports arenas, all deliver a similar message; but the ones that truly stimulate people to act, are the ones that know how to present their ideas in the most exciting and compelling manner.
If you want to motivate your web-audience to respond, your presentation has to be delivered by a real human being: a professional with charm, charisma, and a distinctive character.
About The Author - Jerry Bader is Senior Partner at MRPwebmedia, a website design firm that specializes in Web-audio and Web-video. Visit MRPwebmedia.com, 136Words.com, SonicPersonality.com, and CacheClosed.com. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone (905) 764-1246.