We can all get a little carried away with the latest marketing trends and technological solutions but when all is said and done a Web business strategy must be based on delivering content in the form of text, images, audio and video in informative, entertaining, and above all memorable presentations that influence perception and trigger action.
Everybody understands businesses have to make monéy in order to survive, but all too often companies waste valuable resources following trendy techno-fads that don’t deliver meaningful, memorable content that influences market behavior, creates brand awareness, delivers service support, promotes positive public relations, generates leads, or increases sales.
Confessions of a Social Networking Misanthrope
There are two basic financial website models, sites that provide niche content that use advertising as their revenue source, and sites that provide content about the products and services they sell. If you’re in the business of selling eyeballs to advertisers you want as much website traffic as possible; but if you’re in the business of selling merchandise or expertise, you really only want interested traffic. In other words, if you sell anything other than advertising you only want traffic that might actually purchase what you sell.
Of course there are hybrid sites that want it both ways, they sell a service and provide a blog that contains advertising in order to support the effort. The trouble is the advertising bleeds off a lot of traffic, the very thing the content was intended to attract in order for the company to prove its expertise and thus gain new clients. And with today’s sophisticated behavioral advertising these ads can be sending visitors to indirect competitors even if direct competitors have been restricted. Even if the advertising is totally non-competitive, it is still a distraction drawing people away from your ultimate objective of gaining new customers.
This notion of distraction has even led to a new trend that supports putting all hyperlinks at the end of a presentation rather than spreading them throughout, which has been the norm and often recommended practice. The current thinking on inline hypertext links is that they are distracting and get in the way of the message so they should be relegated to the bottom of the page and used for reference purposes only.
Advertising sites want traffic, and any traffic will do; product and service sites want an interested audience. When all is said and done it’s not traffic that website businesses want, it’s awareness, engagement, and leads.
You Have To Influence Your Audience
It may not be trendy, and it sure isn’t easy, but if you want to make a pile of dough, you have to influence your audience, you have to change perception, alter attitudes, target emotions, and facilitate positive change.
I know, I know, you only sell shoes or the thing that fits inside the thing that turns the other thing that you don’t sell, but all that doesn’t matter because whatever you sell you can make a difference if you stop worrying about traffic and the latest social networking fad du jour.
And that statistical analysis that arrives in your in-box only tells you what happened, not why; it presents only a sterile snap shot of history, it doesn’t foretell the future; otherwise we’d all be driving flying cars, wearing Dick Tracey watches, and have so much free-time they’d have to legalize polygamy just to keep us busy.
Successful companies change the way we think and ultimately the way we act, and it usually revolves around the consistent communication of a simple idea or concept. Ever heard of a company called Apple? Wasn’t it the firm that all the Wall Street stat-geeks and techno-wizards told us just couldn’t conmpéte and was going to go broke not so long ago; so much for blind statistical analysis.
When Apple first introduced the Mac they talked about a computer that was “convivial,” meaning enjoyable due to its ease of use and quality of design. And with that guiding principle Apple has changed how we design things, how we communicate, how we listen to music, how we view video, and they’re on their way to changing how we read books, newspapers, and magazines. Apple has not just influenced its audience; it has changed society. Oh yah, they’re now the computer company with the largest market capitalization, and it’s all because they stuck to their core philosophy and message, and presented it in clever, meaningful, memorable marketing campaigns.
Business Websites are Communication Platforms
Poor communication is worse than no communication at all. Poor communication kills trust and credibility. You may be the greatest expert in widget technology or software engineering but if you’re a poor communicator or are represented by ineffectual media, videos, and websites, then you’re doing your business a disservice. If you want to make a lot of money you have to change attitudes, alter perceptions, and influence people, and you can only do that if you communicate effectively.