Is Your Website a Brochure in Disguise?

How many times have new clients asked to speak to me about setting up their new website, and then asked, “Can’t you just take the content from our brochure and put it up on the website? We like the way we have the wording and we just need it online, that’s all.”

Ah, the website that simply sits there – the “brochure site” that’s listed on company business cards but rarely shows up on Google or makes a sale. It can be the biggest money-waster on a business budget, not only for the money you spend getting it online and keeping it there, but for the money it doesn’t bring in!

Brochure sites are actually a relic of the days when business first noticed the Internet…the days when printed marketing collateral was still the Number One way for companies to inform the public about their products and services. In those days, marketers didn’t realize there was any difference between printed and online media.

In fact, there are two major differences: time and competition.

A brochure is designed to be absorbed in slow time – it may sit on your desk for a few days, then be picked up again, thrown in a drawer and emerge a month later. With plenty of time to work its spell, it can afford to be unusual, or perhaps self-consciously creative. It is interacting with you alone – unless you intentionally seek out similar companies, you are not distracted by competitors.

Visitors coming to your website, on the other hand, are usually searching for something specific, and know that a Google page full of competitors is just a few keystrokes away. If your content does not capture their interest within seconds, they will move on. And you will probably never know they were even there.

Clearly this online audience demands a whole new level of writing – focused, direct, with no frills or fluff. No flowery welcomes, no Home page rhapsodies about your company history – there simply isn’t time!

So how do you create a site that actually brings in revenue? It’s a complex process, but this is the core:

First of all, before you even begin to design the site content, you need to define its purpose, exactly, and know your audience, intimately:

  • Who do you want to come to your site, and why?
  • What are the benefits your visitors are seeking – what problems do they want you to solve? How do they want you to make their lives or work easier or better?
  • What solutions can you offer them?

Once you have identified your audience and their needs, you need to structure your content toward providing solutions, moving from fewest words to most words, least detail to greatest detail, big-picture benefits to in-depth specifications, all directly focused on your prospects’ needs.

With only a few seconds to convey this information, your home page headline needs to be short, simple, strong, and laser-targeted.

Then, once you’ve captured your visitors with the practical benefits your business offers – the ways in which you can make their lives or work easier –  your body content has only one further purpose: to entice them to a detailed product or service page.

Once they click to the next level, you have plenty of time to give them all the details. They’ve already realized  your obvious knowledge of their needs and desires; they’ve seen that they need what you offer,  and they’ve taken the initial steps toward buying. From there, it’s a few clicks to the shopping cart and a sale!

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