Now that I have your attention with that headline let me explain why that Hemmingway quote is way more appropriate than it looks.
In my constant quest for new and valuable sayings for the The Grumpy Old Manger’s Guide (aka Me) to get his message across simply to the masses I recently came up with the words on the left.
Everytime I start a blog or any project for that matter that involves writing I am well aware of the old addage Less is More. This is particularly so in an age where we are being bombarded by messages and information in one way shape or form all day long.
But first let me explain why I believe in the age of YouTube, Pinterest, SlideShare, SnapChat ,Instagram etc etc why writing is an even more vital business skill than ever.
Even better let me have Ann Handley author of several books and articles on the topic put it very succinctly
If you have a website, you are a publisher. If you are on social media, you are in marketing. And that means we are all writers.
Writing matters more now, not less. Our online words are our emissaries: They tell our customers who we are.
Our writing can make us look smart or it can make us look stupid. It can make us seem fun, or warm, or competent, or trustworthy—or it can make us seem humdrum or discombobulated or flat-out boring. That’s true whether you’re writing a listicle or the words on a SlideShare deck, and it’s also true of the words you’re reading right here, right now…
I totally agree with Ann on the absolute importance of writing in business today but would add two elements to her words Begin with Creativity and End with Brevity. In other words start by making it interesting to you and end with an edit that makes it interesting to the reader. Continue reading Write Drunk ….. Edit Sober
And now that is proving to be very true as marketing is becoming the most technology dependant part of any business.
As a result many businesses are developing new roles to bridge the Marketing – Technology divide. This role known as Chief Marketing Technologist will, I believe, play a key role in the future as they need to be:
Part Leader and Teacher
Having spent my formative years in DP/MIS/IT and most of my working life in Marketing and Sales I can clearly see why this role is vital. And if it’s not a full time role, every business needs this kind of expertise in house.
For too long the fear of technology and confusion about terminology have held too many businesses back and in some cases it has the technologists to blame.
In the early days just like lawyers and accountants we developed a language and style that made what we did look hard and confused our customers to keep our value up and make sure we kept control.
After hearing a recent interview with Chip Heath co-Author of “Decisive”, a few things about the how and why of decision making came to mind….and moreso the way it is changing.
In “Decisive,” Chip Heath and Dan Heath, the bestselling authors of “Made to Stick” and “Switch,” tackle the thorny problem of how to overcome our natural biases and irrational thinking to make better decisions, about our work, lives, companies and careers.
In doing so they draw on Research in psychology that reveals our decisions are disrupted by an array of biases and irrationalities: “We’re overconfident. We seek out information that supports us and downplay information that doesn’t. We get distracted by short-term emotions. When it comes to making choices, it seems, our brains are flawed instruments. Unfortunately, merely being aware of these shortcomings doesn’t fix the problem, any more than knowing that we are nearsighted helps us to see.” Continue reading Its not A or B its A + B + C ++
… 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.
– 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.
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.
A Great Example of Web 2.0 site design – lots of whitespace and readable engaging content
For some time I have been suggesting that there is no place for the Website given the collection of Social media tools that can be deployed to present, develop and promote your brand.
But I have had a re-think and done lots of reading on the subject and have done a complete turnaround… I agree 100% with the thoughts expressed by Mitch Joel in his outstanding book “Six Pixels of Separation – Everyone is Connected – Connect your business to Everyone”.
“Your Website Sucks (mostly because it was an afterthought and now its the main calling card for your business)” – Mitch Joel
There is no point in a digital marketing campaign building Facebook Fans, Being LinkedIn, Having quality Followers on Twitter , deploying advertising and tactics to make sure people find you …. unless they want to interact when they do find you. And there is where a Quality Web 2.0 website comes into play.
What people find when they get to your site needs to be in line with their expectations…. and that’s not all about design, look and feel, buttons, navigation and functions – although the overall design etc is an important part it is only a small part of the overall exercise.
It’s the content… the interaction … the ease of use … and the relevance of the messages that people come for and return to stay in contact.
The problems I see with websites are generally a result of the people chosen to build the site …. normally A Graphic/Web Designer or an IT/Technology person/company … or a combination of both.
A good-looking well designed site is important (in fact vital) but not as important as the overall picture – engaging content, relevant technology and a site that is marketable. But above all the site needs to be in sync with the organisations strategic goals and provide an environment that not only interests visitors but engages them.
In general I would never recommend a company that is totally focussed on technology to develop a website and I would certainly never give ownership of this most important marketing communications tool to the IT Department. Would you get a techie to develop your marketing brochure and manage your advertising campaign …. well why put them in charge of the website … it’s a marketing tool that utilises technology in the same way that a brochure utilises a printing press.
It is the fear of technology that drives people to Tech people/companies and in general they end up paying way too much because they have no idea what they want and what it should cost!
However, there is good news there are organisations that have developed into or been formed to be full service digital marketing and communications providers that can leverage all of the best of the above but more so put into a highly cost-effective and relevant form that will serve the needs of the client.
Our business has moved from PR and Communications to Digital Media/Marketing and Communications because we understand the market needs and we have developed a range of Alliance Partners (Graphic Designers, IT experts) who can work with us to provide the appropriate solutions based on our interpretation of the marketing and business needs of the client.
It always gets down to budget but our aim is to provide the optimum solution to meet budget requirements….. but at the end of the day it’s about crafting the right messages … and that generally is the hard part … Getting people to talk about their businesses in clear, genuine and authentic terms without engaging in marketing speak, A great team of people working with us … as a opposed to a loyal, dedicated workforce.
In my next blog I will outline the sort of content that is needed today and provide some ideas on how to gather and present it.
But for now here are some tips from Mitch Joel’s Website Checklist.. with some hints from me thrown i.
Clean, fresh, easy to read, lots of “white space”
Easy to navigate – a click or two away from anything
Appeals to the type of person you aim to attract – based on some Buyer Persona profiling
Written in everyday language that the consumers expect and understand. As you would speak to a friend or colleague when explaining what you do !!
Dont just do it in text … it is now easy and cost-effective to add a variety of media – (Pictures, Videos, Audio etc ) throughout the site .. not just the home page
Make sure there are lots of relevant calls to action wherever and whenever appropriate – throughout the sign – sign up for News, become a Facebook Fan etc
Linked to all of your Social media Channels (eg LinkedIn, Facebook, Blog, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr) – in one place bringing together all the forms of content and interaction that you are engaged in
Ensure that the site is Search Engine Friendly as you are playing the Game of Getting Found and the competition is fierce. Blogs, News, Quiz, Links to/from other sites, Status Updates from your social media links will all help here by constantly changing the content. Refreshing and Refocusing!
Use some form of analytic tools (eg Google Analytics) to track effectiveness of the site in terms of ongoing activity. See what changes work best.
Ensure that the site is developed using tools that allow you to make changes easily as you need … don’t tie yourself to a web developer that needs to do the work . It’s your site and as such you must own it … But make sure you have an ongoing support agreement to ensure that you get backup for the things that you can’t manage yourself… and to get updates to the tools you use to keep them relevant.
Make sure everything on the site is relevant to and in sync with your overall marketing objectives.
Use lots of “testimonials” to tell your story in the words of those you help – preferably in video, at least in pics … dont rely on words … they could have been written by someone like me paid to do so for a client … Not that I would !!!