Your Website: First Chance to Make a Lasting Impression
As a business owner, or marketer, you are intimately concerned with the decisions that other people make. Your principal goal is to affect those decisions and to persuade people to choose you over the other guys. As you might expect, there is both art and science involved in the art of persuasion.
In today’s column, I’ll discuss a few ideas that might help you think differently about how your home page, and your website in general can help or hinder these decisions.
Take a Customer-Focused Approach
The words you use on your website communicate to the visitor what your focus is. If your home page blasts a 72-point headline that says, “We’re the Number One Interior Design Firm in the Northeast,” then it is very clear where your focus is. It’s on yourself and your amazing number oneness.
In this instance, you are “marketing” to people, which means you are not having a conversation with them. And all marketing is conversation, especially these days. And not to put too fine a point on it, but who cares if you are No. 1? In certain marketing circles, this is referred to as the dinner party problem. Who would you rather meet at a dinner party? The person who can only talk about himself? Mr. “I’m Numero Uno?” Or, the person who is genuinely interested and curious about you?
A customer focused approach means that the aim and thrust of your site is less about how great you are and more about helping your customer/visitor easily learn, do, achieve what they set out to learn, do or achieve. Minus the chest thumping.
Language and the Gobbledygook Manifesto
A customer-focused approach goes a little deeper than what I’ve outlined above. A customer-focused approach avoids what David Meerman Scott calls, “gobbledygook.” In the Gobbledygook Manifesto, Scott identifies meaningless phrases like cutting-edge, market leading or my personal favorite, solutions.
Scott has said gobbledygook is a problem because these words have lost their meaning. He’s right about that.
But I think it’s more than that. Gobbledygook is a problem because it leads with your language and your point of view instead of your customer’s language and point of view. This kind of language puts a wall up between you and your visitor.
Here’s an example.
Let’s say you and I meet at a dinner party. I ask you what you do for a living. You look me right in the eye and say, “Bay state interior design is a leading provider of interior design solutions for residential, business and government environments.” I would look for another drink. Wouldn’t you?
But what if you said, “Thanks for asking. Our company does interior design. We focus on sustainable materials and ergonomically correct workspaces. We’ve got quite a few residential clients, quite a few in business and government, too. We’re all about helping people create comfortable and productive workspaces.”
A Marketing Voice versus A Human Voice
That first voice is a deadly marketing voice and, sad to say, it is all over the Internet. The second is a human voice, and a human voice is the one that connects. It’s that voice, true and authentic, that signals a customer-focused mindset. It is that voice you need to get onto your website.
Gerry McGovern is a highly sought after web content specialist based in the UK. He’s written a new book, The Stranger’s Long Neck that outlines his views on how people use websites. Mr. McGovern also puts out a weekly newsletter that I highly recommend for anyone who has responsibility for an organization website. Just click his name to get to the subscription page.
Next week: Cognitive Fluency. What it is and why it matters.