Is Your Web Content Compelling?

Feature-Oriented Content

Back in the day (when exactly was that)? advertisers would go to great lengths to tout the features of their product or service. Their goal was to convince you that the quality of their product or service was superior. Think of how excited you got when you read the product’s promotional literature. It probably sounded like a technical owner’s manual. An owner’s manual tells you about the details of a product.

Feature-oriented language reminds me of the old television show, Dragnet, where the police would say, “All we want are the facts, ma’am”. Features = facts. Feature-oriented content is telling someone about something. Not very convincing, in fact, it’s downright boring. Feature-oriented content is what’s known as ‘tell’ content. “Let me tell you about X, Y and X features of my product of my service. Where’s the compelling sales message?

Benefit-Oriented Content

Towards the end of the early years, some creative advertising writer thought that advertising messages should focus, not only on the features of a product, but, also on the benefits of the product they are selling. And so, benefit-oriented content came flying in to the mainstream. Benefit-oriented content answers the question, “What’s in it for me, the customer?” Benefit-oriented content sells, not tells. This type of content convinces customers that your product or service will help them. Customers want to know what your product or service can do for them.

Use benefit-oriented content on your website, brochure, or any other printed material. Start with a short headline. Try to use less than seven words in the headline. Next, write a few sentences of introductory content followed by a bulleted list of benefits. Use as few bullets as possible in order to keep your message clear and concise. Always put a call-for-action on the bottom such as Call Me, Email Me, Go To My Website, etc. Don’t use gratuitous graphics or stale free clip art.

Here’s an example of how features can be turned into benefits. This example is taken from Varidesk’s (the manufacturer of stand-up work desks) promotional content I found on their website.

Example of Promotional Content Used by Manufacturer of Stand-Up Desks

FeatureBenefit to Customer
Patented two-handle design coupled with a spring-assisted boost-enabled lifting mechanismMakes moving from sitting to standing quick and easy
Desk works either standing or sittingPerfect way to increase energy, your health, and productivity
No hardware needed to secure desk to workstationEasy to install

The Benefits column definitely answers the question, “What’s in it for me”.

Now it’s your turn. Think about your business. In the left column, list three features of your product or service. On the corresponding right column, turn each feature into a benefit.

What Product or Service Do I Sell?

Feature                                                                     Benefit to Customer
1.1.
2.2.
3.3.

 Now that you’re comfortable features into benefits, get to work on re-writing all your promotional content.

Big Numbers – Little Impact

Let’s say you’re asked to write a public service announcement promoting diabetes education. You might start out by writing something like – “Do you know that more than 29 million people in the United States suffer from diabetes?”

After reading this, your reader might ask, “what does this have to do with me? I can’t relate to 29 million of anything”

What is it about these large numbers? I believe that using large numbers to make a point can easily overwhelm people’s senses. Here’s an example of how large numbers can be overwhelming.

The Pew Internet Research Project (www.pewinternet.org) collected data about social networking and online usage. They found that 71 percent of online adults use Facebook, 17 percent use Instagram, 21 percent use Pinterest, and 22 percent use LinkedIn. Facebook alone has about 191 million users in the United States.

If you’re writing a business, be careful not to get carried away by using big numbers to build your case to start a business. Applying large numbers (demographic or economic) to help you understand your local market might not portray an accurate picture. For example, do 71 percent of adults in your geographic area use Facebook? Probably not.

Back to the public service announcement. How would you relate to the question, “Do you have a friend or family member who has diabetes?” Most likely, you would say “yes, I can relate to that”. This is an effective way to connect with your audience.

What can you do to avoid using large numbers when creating content (online or print) to promote your business? Here two of the most important things to keep in mind:

  • Think small – If you are starting a business that serves local or regional customers, get data from local business organizations (Chambers of Commerce, economic development associations, etc.). Use data to get an understanding of the unique demographic characteristics of your market.
  • Make it personal by telling a story – talk directly to your audience using common words and phrases to draw them in. Most people can relate to a short story. The diabetes example above can be expanded into a story about how someone prevented himself or herself from becoming diabetic.

Beware of getting sucked into the world of big numbers.

There’s lots more tips and tactics to build your business in Critical Connections-The Step-by-Step Guide to Transform Your Business Through Referral Marketing

Top Ten Words to Avoid

Here are my Top Ten Words and Phrases to Avoid when writing anything. In my opinion, these words and phrases hold little or no meaning to the reader. I notice when some people write (especially their resumes or bios), they tend to use these words. It seems like the writer can’t concretely articulate their message, so they use these words and phrases as a default.

I have to admit I use some of these words or phrases, some of the time. Nobody’s perfect.

The Top Ten Words and Phrases to Avoid are not jargon words. Jargon is defined as “special words or expressions used by a particular profession or group that are difficult for others to understand.” Jargon is “technical talk.”

Here they are in no particular order:

  1. Behavior
  2. Opportunity
  3. Concern
  4. Utilize
  5. In-depth knowledge
  6. Extensive experience
  7. Process
  8. Heavily involved
  9. Move forward
  10. Wide variety

 How are you going to eliminate using all or some of these words or phrases?

Now you’re aware of these words and phrases, take the opportunity, to use your extensive experience and in-depth knowledge to move forward while utilizing a wide variety of alternative words and phrases. Yikes!

 

There’s lots of tips and tactics to build your business in Critical Connections-The Step-by-Step Guide to Transform Your Business Through Referral Marketing

Essential Elements of an Awesome Website

I encourage all of you who are promoting a service or product to keep current on the latest trends in building and transforming your website.

Let’s hear from Gabe Seiden at Connect4 Consulting about making sure you’re dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s when it comes to building your website.Your website is often the first interaction between you and your audience (customers, donors, readers, grantees, general public, etc.).  It is essential that your website impresses your target audience. Building an impressive website requires either a significant investment of time and effort or a significant investment of money.  Sometimes it requires all that and more.

You really shouldn’t settle for anything less than a totally impressive website.  In fact, your website should be awesome right from the get-go.  In this article, we’ll tell you the best things you can do to help you stand out from the competition.  Here, then, are the essential elements of an awesome website: It has to look good. If you want to capture and maintain attention, your website must look good and it must look good to your target audience. Knowing your audience is critical because there are a wide variety of awesome websites, but not all are appropriate for the same audiences. So you need to think about the following elements of visual design:

  • layout
  • color palette
  • fonts/typography
  • images
  • symmetry and balance
  • white space
  • supporting media/videos

It needs a clearly defined purpose.

Visitors should be able to determine what your site is about at a single glance.  If your site is about cars, that should be obvious.  If your site is about drones, I should be able to see that.  If your site is about Chuck Norris, you shouldn’t need to explain.  It should be perfectly clear what your site is about, without requiring any real thinking.

Yet you’ll see dozens of therapy and yoga websites with serene pictures of waterfalls or zen-like arrangements of pebbles. These may be beautiful and put people in a good mood, but it’s only a good approach if the purpose of the website is obvious. It is hard enough to get people to your website. Make sure that once they get there, they know what it is you want them to do.

It has to be easy to use.

An awesome website should be totally intuitive. That means someone visiting the website doesn’t have to think to figure out how to move around the site. The very best sites make people forget what they came to see – as long as they find what they were looking for in the first place.

User-friendly websites include:

  • clear and coherent navigation
  • links that give a good indication of what they lead to
  • something that makes users want to explore further
  • good accessibility features
  • seamless responsiveness

A well designed website is like a well-designed chair. People should want to sit in it. The feeling should be that it’s almost impossible to resist being drawn in. 

Put the most important things at the top of the page.

Always lead with whatever is most important. Don’t tuck those things away in the footer and make people have to hunt for them. When the visitor finds what they are looking for, make sure it works.

Make sure all users have an awesome experience.

The site should work on all devices. To do this your site needs to be responsive. It needs to have images that are optimized so they don’t use too much bandwidth to load.