By Jerry Bader
With today’s Web site tracking software and services you can find out a lot about the people who visit your Web site. You can learn where they’re from, what kind of browser they’re using, how long they stayed on your site and a whole lot more. But what all this high tech intelligence won’t tell you is what kind of people they are, and how likely they are to be transformed by your Web presentation from viewers to customers.
Your ability to convert Web site visitors into clients depends on your ability to find the soft underbelly of their subconscious desire. After all, if someone is happy with what they’ve already got, they don’t need you, but if they were truly one hundred percent happy, they wouldn’t bother coming to your Web site. Therefore every visitor that comes to your site is a potential client whether they know it or not.
The Setup’s the Thing
Your Web site presentation has to find that annoying little subconscious scab just under the surface and pick at it until it becomes a full blown irritation that fosters discontent and a desire for change. That discontent is your opening to make your value statement.
We refer to this process as The Setup. Like any good presentation you cannot, or rather should not, just blurt out how great you are, but rather you have to set the scene. Like any good story, the punch line, moral or payoff only works if it is properly setup. Far too many Web site presentations suffer from premature pitch climax.
The ability to transform viewers into customers requires patience. Entrepreneurial companies tend to view the setup as a waste of time, and they fear losing viewers before they ever get to the so-called “good-stuff.” But without a proper setup, an audience is just not primed to accept what you have to say.
You can’t sell anybody anything unless they understand they’ve not been getting everything they need and deserve. That understanding creates dissatisfaction with your competition and opens the audience’s minds to what you have to offer. In short, the setup needs to touch a psychological nerve.
The Customer Is Always Right – Not Quite
We’ve all heard the expression, “the customer is always right.” The fact is the customer is not always right, and in many cases they don’t really know what they want or what they should have; and sometimes even when they do, they resist it because of a variety of misinformation, misunderstanding, self-doubt, and preconceived notions of conventional wisdom. It’s your Web site presentation’s job to set visitors on the right path.
Being the Expert Inspires Confidence
You’re supposed to be the expert in what you do, and if you are, you need to have the ability to dig deeper into what people really want, need and desire. I am always reminded of friends of mine who hired an interior decorator to furnish their new home. The decorator asked them what kind of furniture they liked. They answered that they were looking for Colonial, to which the decorator answered, “No you aren’t. What you want is Country French.” And after he showed my friends what he was talking about, they quickly agreed. The decorator knew his business and understood the clients. Yes, the clients liked the idea of the homey Colonial look they’d seen, but not being furniture experts they didn’t understand what the options were, and what kind of furniture best suited their lifestyle and budget, while still providing the homey rustic but comfortable aesthetic they wanted. Customer satisfaction is about providing what the client really wants and not necessarily what they say they want.
Learn How to Communicate so Audiences Get It
Let’s face it; we all like to read about how the digital revolution has opened up the business world to more audience influence, but the fact is people are influenced and manipulated and desires created through marketing and advertising as much as ever. How many Web site owners actually benefit in any meaningful way from social networking and search optimization, or do they do it because it’s expected and promoted by proponents as the tactic du jour?
If you think a particular song you like is played on a thousand radio stations because it’s good, or even because it has a following then you are living in a fantasy world. If you think the vast majority of viral videos produced by corporations go viral all by themselves, then think again.
Audiences are being manipulated and transformed into customers all the time, not because companies responded to what the public says, but rather to how the public reacts to various communication and marketing stimuli. What’s truly amazing is how bad companies are at doing it. With all of the television industries’ research into viewers, they still fail to deliver consistent quality programming that people want to watch. Every fall, new shows are yanked faster than a Nolan Ryan fastball, but the same crappy commercials live on for what seems an eternity. Television viewers are a captive audience and if they want to watch their favorite show they have to tolerate the commercials (DVRs aside), but the Web is different. If your Web site presentation stinks, nobody is going to stick around to absorb the smell.
Web Television Convergence Has Arrived
If you think of your Web site presentation as nothing more than a digital brochure, you’re already behind the curve. Welcome to the Web on TV.
All you need is a laptop computer or one of the new gaming consoles attached to your big screen TV to access the Web on television. And as network programmers scramble to get their acts together more and more people are opting to spend their television time on the Web. Kind of makes you rethink what kind of Web site presentation you should be offering. It’s time to start thinking of your Web site as your own business channel and the content on it as programming. It’s the future, and it’s here, now.
Who Visits Your Web Site?
Before Web site visitors can be transformed into clients, we have to understand who they are in terms of their mental outlook or frame of mind when they first arrive at your home page.
- Accidental Tourists
Accidental Tourists are Web site visitors who find their way to your Web site by serendipity. Your company’s link may have come up in a search for something mentioned on your Web site, but not something that’s a core element of your business. But just because these people didn’t really intend to visit a site like yours doesn’t mean they’re a waste of time. Perhaps they never thought of using your product or service, or perhaps they never realized how much they really wanted what you have to offer. If your Web site presentation is exciting, meaningful and entertaining you at least have the opportunity to plant the seed of desire for your product or service.
- Brain Pickers
Brain Pickers show up at your site with little intention to buy anything, in fact they’re there to pick your brain and find out how to do what you do for themselves. But if you’re truly an expert at what you do, you at least have the opportunity to show these people that what you offer is special, and doing it right requires a company with your skills and resources.
- Penny Pinchers
These guys are looking for a bargain. You are on a list and they are checking out who is offering the cheapest solution to their problem. But not all Penny Pinchers are penny-wise and pound-foolish, some, just need to understand why you’re the best at what you do, and why what you are charging is the real bargain.
- Tire Kickers
The Tire Kickers love to look but rarely buy. They want what you’ve got but they just can’t make the commitment to buy it. They visit your Web site a hundred times, each time pressing their noses against the virtual storefront window trying to make a decision that rarely comes.
It’s up to your Web site presentation to push them over the edge. If they want what you’ve got, you can sell it to them. All you need to do is find that soft under belly of desire that gets them eager to spend their money.
These guys want what you offer but need the reassurance of some practical input to get them to buy. The desire is there, but it’s frustrated by their mental need to justify the purchase with practical excuses. “But Honey, I know little Johnny is only three, but think of the eye-hand co-ordination he’ll learn playing these video games.” People ultimately buy what they want, and rationalize the purchase with logic and reasoning, but without desire, no amount of statistical evidence will work.
- The Enemy
If you’re any good, you’ll have plenty of competitors hanging around your Web site looking for ideas they can use. It’s all part of the game. Better to be out there showing people what you’ve got than hiding, afraid someone might take advantage. Besides if you’re really good, you’ll always be at least one step ahead of the competition anyway. That makes you the leader and them the follower. And everybody wants to do business with the leader.
- The Needy
The Needy crave what you’ve got but need a lot of reassurance, handholding and customer support. These guys have the potential to be good customers but your presentation has to make it clear that you’ll be there to answer questions and concerns and not just leave them in the lurch like so many other Web-based businesses do after they’ve got the sale.
In the End
If you’re fed-up with social networking self-gratification, frustrated by ever changing site optimization requirements, and ineffective advertising then it’s time to re-evaluate what your Web site presentation says and how it says it.
In the final analysis it’s all about communicating your emotional value proposition using your most important venue, your Web site; delivered in the most engaging, informative and memorable manner that compels your audience to pay attention to your marketing message, and act upon it.
About the Author
Jerry Bader is Senior Partner at MRPwebmedia, a Web site design firm that specializes in Web-audio and Web-video. Visit http://www.mrpwebmedia.com/ads, http://www.136words.com and http://www.sonicpersonality.com. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone (905) 764-1246.