Telling your story – Its what a website should do!!

A great example of a site incorp. News feeds, Blogs, and Twitter and FaceBook updates

People buy from People they Like …..

People buy stories not Products

… but its the product and your Brand story not the promotion that combine to build business

The old days where it was all about promotion, advertising, selling… but it’s now about engaging, conversing, two-way communication rather than shouting and your website is a key tool to build long-term communities of support for your Brand.  People these days want to feel some ownership of a Brand  if they support it and via Web 2.0 tools and tactics this is made easy.

So as with everything when designing, planning, building a highly effective website make sure you Begin with the End in Mind.

John Jantsch the man behind the Duct Tape Marketing – Blog, Podcast and Book is a master at providing practical marketing advice for Small Business. And when it comes to website content we share some very common opinions and views.  So below I present my ideas (greatly influenced by reading John’s book and how to do Good Content for your website.

If it’s in your marketing profile it should be on your website … and it should be in your words and those of the people you help….so make sure all materials are in sync and where possible re-use the same content … its quicker, easier, cheaper and consistency is everything..

“I like to use a case statement as the home page content. Dont waste time with some sort of “Welcome to our Website” message. Hit your visitor with the most compelling marketing copy you have.”  John Jantsch – Duct Tape Marketing.

But make sure it’s not laced with Marketing speak and meaningless babble .  Keep it concise and to the point as you would if someone stops you in the street and asks you what you do these days ….  so No Worlds best practice, market leading etc etc .   People want to know what you can do for them and why they should trust you… and will give you the minimum of time to convince them to read on.

Say what you be  …..  but be what you say.

And then back up this short compelling opener with – Your Brand Story in Your Words and testimonials that back you up throughout the site … preferably in video but as a minimum have a picture to go with any text.

And then think about what you would like to see if you were your own best prospect …

  • Whats different about you … why choose you over others.
  • How do you operate … what can people expect from working with you
  • Your story told your way
    • “Tell them your story in an open, honest. and entertaining way, and you will win their hearts as well as their heads.” John Jantsch
  • A profile of your ideal client/s …  so I can easily see that “we” are a god match
  • A single clear and concise statement of the products and services you provide
  • As many case studies as you have that are relevant to the claims you make
  • And a list of clients … so that as a prospect I feel good about the company I will be keeping

So now that you have sorted out the sort of things you need to say you need some professional help to put it together – Someone that can sort out the most costs effective design, technology and above all strategy to make sure that the Right People find you. So forget about HTML, SEO and find someone to bring all of the right resources into play to make sure that you end up with a powerful marketing weapon that is closely aligned to your corporate goals and ethics.

Above all

– Keep It Simple

– Start each page with a Powerful headline backed by a well presented intro paragraph

– Keep navigation simple ….  make sure you test it out on a few people first… and create links to every page and lots of text links within pages to allow for a variety of ways that people will use the site.  For example if there is a term you use often set up a link to an explanation/definition.

John in his book also presents a list of “Shoot the Web Designer if they ……”

  • Suggest Flash intro pages – look great but serve no purpose unless your visitors are seeking entertainment
  • Suggest Frame pages – search engines don’t like them
  • Suggest templates – they are inexpensive … and look it … and wont allow you to match your key identity elements at all well

But make sure you site incorporates Your Blog, Your Status updates from Twitter and LinkedIn, Links to your Facebook Fanpage. …  preferably embedded in the home page as per the example above.

Also provide

  • Free Resources that are valuable to your visitor
  • Article and case studies that are relevant… esp if written by you or referring to you
  • Ability to syndicate content via RSS
  • Creative Commons Content that may be useful to your visitors .. another freebie that adds value

And above all do all that you can to help people find you via what ever form of search they use.

Twitter – All talk and no pay!!

Twitter_TVTwitter is now surely the greatest example of building a brand by getting heaps of free media and not spending anything on traditional advertising.

According to an analysis conducted by Video Monitoring Services (VMS), Twitter got great benefit from 2.73 billion impressions last month, valued at $48 million.

Of this over 50% were mentions on TV – mentions largely due to celebrities. politicians, sporting and media personalities embracing it as a medium for direct communication with fans, supporters, voters etc.

While Google has had so much free publicity it has become a new verb in the language — “lets Google that!” — it has been outstripped by Twitter now.

“This is huge. It’s very, very high,” said Gary Getto, VP-integrated media intelligence at VMS. “In fact, we looked at online coverage of Twitter vs. Google. Twitter is running significantly higher than Google and I didn’t think anything was more popular than Google.”

Not only does Twitter not advertise it doesn’t even have any PR representation to generate this media … .

This is truly the power of Social Media to build Word of Mouth and rapidly develop a Tribe of Evangelists and Followers.

Its surely about the Brand

pontingWhen I see images of the Australian Cricket Captain – Ricky Ponting – in his faded, worn out, sweat/beer/champagne-stained, out-of-shape cricket cap I wonder about the brand of Cricket.

I understand the game is more about tradition than brand and I understand that Ponting wants to pursue a tradition of pride and worship of the Baggy Green (as the cap is known) but as a marketer I wonder about the impact on the brand.

Sure its great that the players (not all of them) who earn well in excess of $1million a year see this tradition as some symbol of loyalty and passion for playing for their country.

And I am sure the cricket aficionados steeped in the traditions of the game revel in this ongoing perpetuation in the notion that you only ever wear one cap through your career.

Thanks goodness that notion does not carry through to other items of apparel!!

But surely when the vast majority of the public (esp Aussies) see that beaten up cap with its faded Australian coat of arms they take little pride in it.

For those that don’t understand the tradition it appears that Cricket in Australia is in a pallous state and can no longer outfit its players appropriately.

So for newcomers who want to support and help develop the brand surely its time to put this tradition to one side.

As an old sports coach of mine once said to me – even if you can’t play the game at least look like you can by turning out in the appropriate gear and look the part. Obviously Ricky Ponting can play the game and as such feels such advice does not apply to him.

Surely the brand of Australian Cricket deserves better and the image of Australia on the sporting field deserves players wearing the brand of Australia to provide a better example.

It was good to hear on a radio interview that not all Australian players past and present don’t agree with Ponting and many share my opinion!!

The Game, The Brand and The Country should come well before a personal traditional view ….once again I don’t get it … but then again there is much about cricket that I don’t get.

But that’s another story for another day!!

They want me…. on the Mckinsey Online Executive Panel?

We invite you to join McKinsey’s Online Executive Panel, through which The McKinsey Quarterly asks selected executives their views on top business trends, including the economic crisis, and on topics relevant to their functional area of expertise.

online-communityWhen I received this invite I was indeed surprised and flattered…  But as I read on I worked out what they wanted was just another member for their community.

Maybe I am not special after all.

Seth Godin calls them Tribes but everyone wants a community to help, promote, support their brand.

A community mediated by technology and aiming to produce some productive outcomes.

Then I read an article by Menaka Gopinath who provided a further insight into what McKinsey wanted of me – they wanted to engage me in in their business decisions by participating in polls etc.   They want me to feel important to say the least.

Then Jeremiah Owyang in his Web Strategist blog challenged me to look at all this from another angle Future of PR – Agencies Represent Communities – Not Brands.  I wonder what Eric will think of this when I seek his opinion.

I learned from Menaka about how companies like Mercedes Benz (better tell Eric the Europeans are onto Social Networks for business) seeking to engage the consumer voice via exclusive member only communities.

They want to engage you in the brand even more than Twitter, Facebook, Blogs etc can .  They want you right on the inside.

But as Jeremiah asks are we moving towards a complete reversal where Communities represented by PR Agencies actually drive and develop new products even new brands.

A fascinating evolution.  Love to hear what you think?

Should I join the McKinsey Panel?

I am off now to read the 50 plus opions posted on Jeremiah’s blog to see what his community thinks about all this, before I have a coffee with Eric.

Photo by D’Arcy Norman

Consumers know….. Companies don’t!

blogging1Two in every five Aussies on the net posted a commentt about a brand in the last year!

More than 86% of the same people read comments about brands!

More that  6.5Million Australians now belong to at least one online Social Network!

All of this comes from very recent Nielsen Online research into consumer generated media in Australia.

So if the consumer is into it why don’t the companies/brands get it …. yet?

After all this is word of mouth advertising and most people say that’s the best form and certainly most say its the form they trust most. So its cvertainly time for companies to be at least listened while they plan to become actively involved.

Its not that hard to make a video and post it on YouTube…. 57% of consumer said they watched online videos to help them make purchasing decisions.

Facebook usage up from 37% to 69% in the last year…. YouTube up to 75% from 64% a year ago…. so consumers are moving ….  

Whats more the research most consumers want companies to find new ways to interact with them.

So Social  Media is not only popular but trusted by consumers and for companies/brands its a communication medium that is easy to access and cheap to leverage.

So why dont they get it why are most ignoring it and some going so far as to ban their staff accessing in the office.

Is it just change … is that many of the decison makers see them as too old  to bother with this “fad”?

I was staggered this week when a senior lecturer in Marketing at a prominent University told me he gets lots of invites to join LinkedIn, Twitter etc …. but he doesnt have the tme!!!

What he cleary means is he doest know – why, what and probably how.  

When I suggested to a CEO of a prospective client he should be blogging he told me …”I only have time for insights and not communicating with people”

My answer is then you are a perfect blogger write your insights in blogs and let the world do the communicating for you.