How often do you visit a company’s website, and after reading the home page you are still not sure what the company does? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
Some people think they must be really dense to not understand, but take heart. The problem isn’t with you, it’s with the people who wrote and designed the website.
There are three main causes for the problem:
- Company-centric thinking instead of customer-centric thinking
- Overly benefit-driven copy
- Assuming site visitors already know the basic information.
You know your business intimately. That makes it very, very difficult to communicate about it in a way that makes it clear to people who know little or nothing about what you do. You see it from the inside, while customers and prospects see it from the outside.
I’ve had this conversation with clients many times. I remember one who kept stressing that their company always brought “outside the box” thinking to their clients and wanted the website to emphasize that. I finally got them to realize that first we had to tell people what the box was! Then we could tell about their outside-the-box thinking.
Overly Benefit-Driven Copy
Sales 101 teaches “sell the sizzle not the steak.” Marketing 101 teaches “talk about benefits not the features.” Both are great advice, BUT…
First, you have to explain what the box is. Selling the sizzle is only effective if people first understand that what you offer is steak.
Many companies pitch the benefits they offer, but they don’t tell us what it is they actually do. I find that many “cloud computing” sites suffer from this problem. They don’t understand that most people don’t understand what the hell cloud computing is!
Here is copy from the first paragraph on one such company’s home page:
“If you need to spend more time building your business and less time maintaining your IT infrastructure, Savvis knows how to help. Through a flexible, easy-to-use cloud interface, Savvis Symphony delivers cost savings, high performance, scalability and security.”
Got it? I mean, who wouldn’t want cost savings, high performance, scalability and security? Those are great benefits. But, how do they offer these wonderful benefits? What is it they really do?
Here is another one:
“Interlink Cloud Advisors offers a full range of Cloud services to deliver highly accessible, reliable, secure and scalable cloud solutions for your business that can help you reduce costs and increase efficiency.”
I could go on, but I’m sure you have found similar sites that just make your eyes glaze over.
Assuming the Visitor Knows the Basics
I wrote the website copy for a major financial firm. Among other services, the company provides both defined benefit and defined contribution plans. Do you know what those are? Most people don’t. (The first is a pension plan and the second is a 401(k) type of retirement plan.) It took a lot to convince them that we had to include those explanations on the website and not just use the industry jargon.
On the World Wide Web, you have to assume that many site visitors know little or nothing about your business. All kinds of people from all over the world may visit and need to understand what products or services your company provides!
You have about seven seconds to interest site visitors in staying on your site and finding out more about what you offer. If they don’t already understand about the box … or the cloud … you are selling and you don’t plainly explain it, they just click away. Why stay on your site and be confused?