“Nobody reads anymore.” Today, this is a statement that certainly rings true in all aspects of everyday life, and certainly in business. Decision makers and business leaders across industries are busier than ever—bombarded with emails, print catalogs, sales calls and meetings that consume their time and energy. This means that when it comes time for them to take a moment and do a little research or learn more about your company, you not only have to tell your story in a meaningful way so it resonates, but you also need to tell it fast. The phrase “nobody reads anymore” isn’t meant to devalue the power of words but emphasize the importance of saying the right words, presenting them in the right way, and conveying them at the right time.
When it comes to your company’s website, this is especially true. If your website is the front door to your business, then the messaging—the story—that resides there is the first handshake you have with a prospect. The story you tell will undoubtedly leave an impression with your website visitors—and the impressions it leaves will determine if users click away from your website or draw them in deeper to learn more about your business and the unique value you deliver.
Saying it Right
At THIEL, our philosophy is that the right words are the true words. The key messaging you present on your website has to be a pure reflection of your brand: your values, your capabilities, your unique points of differentiation and most importantly—your why. The story you put forth on your website (or in any marketing) cannot be smoke and mirrors. Customers are smart and while falsehoods may quickly draw them into your site, they’ll quickly see past them and move on. Therefore, transparency and honesty are two qualities that are essential in shaping your brand story. But how do you arrive at that story and determine what key messages should be front and center to effectively communicate and move users through your website?
This may surprise you, but the right (true) words come from you and your customers. As a branding agency, we have the power to craft strong, effective messaging to better position your brand in the marketplace. But there isn’t a secret formula, a magic wand or alternate dimension from which we pull the right words—and if an agency tells you otherwise RUN FAST. The truth is, your brand story cannot be created within a vacuum. It’s a collaborative process that requires drawing insights, perceptions and perspectives from a cross section of individuals both inside and outside your organization. By speaking one-on-one with these individuals we’re able to realize where the common perceptions lie and gain a strong, unbiased understanding of what your customers desire and value most from your company. From there, these common truths can be transformed into creative messaging that communicates to your audience in a way that resonates, differentiates and establishes you as an honest, trusted resource that can solve their challenge better than anyone else.
Presentation is Everything
Unlike in print, your brand is not limited to static design and text. Today, websites are highly dynamic marketing tools. Interactive elements such as video, motion graphics and animations allow you to get creative with how you engage with users and present your brand story online. As stated above, presentation is everything. Your messaging cannot be flat and presented all at the same note. An effective website will have a strategy for how its messaging is presented and through what media. While some aspects of your brand story may still be best left written in text, other parts to your story may be better conveyed and absorbed as a video, through iconography or animations.
Your brand now has the right words—your unique story—and you’ve got a number of creative vehicles to carry that message on your website. The leads should start rolling in now, right? Wrong! As discussed in earlier posts from this series, your website needs to have a logical architecture and every page needs to have a hierarchy of content too. Your website tells your story, and just like your favorite novel, it won’t make sense if you simply skip to the end or tell the story out of order.
While your ultimate goal may be to generate leads from your website, a first-time visitor to your website may not be ready to pick up the phone or request a quote until they know a little more about your business. Let them get to the good parts of the story and don’t spoil the ending with gimmicky calls-to-action that make them put the book down before they turn the first page. Put your most important messages front and center so users can’t miss them—these are the parts of your story that you want them to remember for days, weeks and months after visiting your site. The rest of your story can fill in the gaps—these are the facts that users can choose to skim over, but should they choose to dive in, it would enhance their understanding of who you are, what you do and your promise of delivered value.
Crafting your brand’s key messaging is an art and a science. However, going through the process of determining the right words to say, and presenting them in the right way and at the right time on your website will help ensure visitors are drawn in, remain engaged and leave with an understanding of your brand and the confidence to ultimately choose you.