It is not surprising that many CEOs, marketing managers and business owners are frustrated by the ineffectiveness of their websites. Everyone in business understands the power of the Web and we are all tantalized by its potential. But rarely does that potential get fulfilled. So whose fault is it? Well there is certainly enough blame to go around: website designers who don't understand business; IT departments that superimpose technical solutions on marketing problems; and business managers who fail to clearly define and deliver a simple and consistent marketing message.
The prime directive in any webmedia initiative (website, email campaign, or digital presentation) is to deliver the marketing message. It doesn't matter if you're big or small, have a huge budget or are working on a shoestring. It doesn't matter if your intention is to build market recognition, showcase corporate expertise, present saleable merchandise, distribute product knowledge, provide customer service, facilitate order-desk inquiries, drive brick-and-mortar traffic, or implement an e-commerce sales system; if you don't deliver a consistent and coherent marketing message, you will fail. All your efforts will be lost in the clutter and noise of a ferociously competitive marketplace.
Discovering the Solution
It is not surprising that the classic business consultant's opening question to a CEO is, "What business are you in?" Of all the complex issues corporate leaders have to contend with, this simple query is probably the most troublesome. Knowing who you are, what you do, and why your prospects should do business with you seems like something that every business professional should be able to rattle-off at the drop of a business card. But ask this question and what you get is a rambling explanation of company products combined with a series of B-school platitudes about striving to work hard to deliver the best widget.
Call it a value proposition, an elevator pitch or simply your 'raison d'etre.' What matters is delivering your marketing message. First you must define it in as simple terms as possible; then you must refine it into an accurate, articulate and understandable statement; and then you must deliver it in a memorable fashion in everything you do, at every meeting you attend, and on every website, email campaign, landing page, and digital presentation you make.
Understanding the Medium
The Web is a communication environment where its practitioners have ignored the basic building block of effective communication - the sound of the human voice. Nothing makes us sit-up and take notice more than the sound of the human voice. It is an evolutionary imperative driven by the earliest recollections of our mother's voice and the reassurance of the protective psychological cocoon it created.
The sound of our name, or that of someone familiar, stops us dead in our tracks. No image, no text, no layout pattern has the Pavlovian effect of the sound of the human voice. It is the most powerful, the most memorable, and the most effective means of communication we have. It demands our attention and as Web-marketers we ignore it at our corporate peril.
There has developed over time a Web-orthodoxy, a set of acceptable ways of doing things, a litany of dos and don'ts that if scrutinized in the light-of-day prove to be next to useless - useless in doing what needs to be done - creating a memorable user experience that results in turning traffic into customers. If your audience can't hear what you're saying, how do you expect them to respond to your call to action?
Delivering the Message
So now you know you need to define and package your marketing message in a memorable verbal narrative that we can be delivered using the cutting-edge webmedia techniques and the broadband environment that now exists. Creating this memorable value statement is not just an exercise in marketing ingenuity but an assignment in business survival,
It takes 136 words to delivery a compelling sixty-second explanation of why customers should do business with you; the most important 136 words of your business life.