Monday, May 22, 2006

Direct Response Web Site

One of the things I ask clients and prospects alike is what they want from their web site or Internet marketing strategy. Some have exact answers and some don't have a clue. Some tell me they are not sure, but they are being told by people that they have to have a web site. Now don't get me wrong I love marketing and helping people but if I was alive 60 years ago and someone came to me and said their was this great new thing called TV and I should be advertising on it for my business I think I would want to know how that is going to benefit my business. I think I would want to know the exact effect it would have on my company's bottomline. Unfortunately not enough business owners ask those questions and for the small business person that can really create a hard ship as they toss money out that could be better spent somewhere else.

Now somebody reading this right now might be scratching their head wondering why I would be willing to turn down business from someone that couldn't answer this. I would tell them I don't do it often, but I have turned people away because I tell them I don't think I can help them and in those cases I won't take their money. To most people I simply need to coach them through the thought process and we can come up with a strategy that will work and a way they can benefit.

One of those strategies is the direct response web site. This is where the site literally guides the user into a certain course of action just like a piece of direct mail would do. I work with the client to figure out what the "thing" the person is supposed to do is and then we plan the strategy around it. This strategy is a combination of traffic generation, site architecture, copy, and offer.

This last element the offer is really a key piece. People are not going to call you or give up their email for no reason. They are going to have to find something on your site that is so interesting and so valuable that they give you their contact information so they can have this item in your offer. It could be free subscription to your newsletter, it might be a tip sheet, software trial or might be a white paper or even e-book. Whatever "it" man, that sounds like eBay, is what is going to cause them to say they trust you enough to give up some information to get this information from you.

It helps to get this information if you also have a rock solid privacy policy that basically says you won't spam the crap out of them or sell their name to every email list on earth. In otherwords that you and you alone will use this information to communicate with them.

In direct response marketing this is known as the "bait piece" and is so named because it gets an otherwise nameless prospect to talk to you and thus allow you to "catch" them. However you must then show respect to the trust they gave you by respecting their privacy and giving them the information or thing you promised. If you execute this step well then moving the person to the next phase will be easier. If you blow it at step 1 by sending them a bunch of crap or the thing you promised never arrives or is a blatant marketing piece your chances of moving to step 2 have probably dropped to zero or worse!

The information that you offer should do two key things. First it should set the standard for what you are selling and in the process show why you or your company meets that standard. Second, it should give solid easy to digest information that is going to help them today. If all you do is mail or send them one of your 3 panel brochures you have just thrown a great opportunity away.

Other things the bait piece should do is demonstrate that you or your company is the expert or the premier company to deal with on whatever it is you are selling. This will be done through the quality of the information you present in your bait piece and from quoting or referencing other credible sources to back up your statements and position so people can see you actually do know what you are talking about.

This strategy needs to be carefully thought out and executed to work well. I help people all the time to develop these marketing pieces and place them on an effective web site that will actually accomplish something besides sucking up server space on the Internet. However too many individuals don't think this through and then can't figure out why they don't get any leads or help from their web site.

A direct response web site includes all the same elements as any direct response media, get attention, get them interested, get them to desire what you have, present a great offer, and fufill your promises. Do these and you will be amazed at the responses you get from your web site. If you want more information on this type of stuff please check out the articles section of my web site to learn more or sign up for my awesome e-newsletter.

Michael Temple

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Copy is King

I seem to have a theme here about coming down hard on all the fancy "jee-wiz" technology someone can incorporate on a web site. Now don't get me wrong, I use and believe that technology is necessary for your web site, but that shouldn't be the only thing that makes your site "great". People come to a web site for information and unfortunately when you have flashing ads, fancy Flash intros, and scrolling ads etc. you don't give them this information.

The best way to give them this information is through copy on the site. This copy is typically delivered through text on the page, but could also be delivered through a video or audio file on your site as well. Your copy needs to get the visitors attention right away and pull them into the body copy. As the person reads you need to build interest in your business, service, or product. In addition, you need to convert this interest in desire to have what you are selling. Finally, all the desire in the world is no good without action. Get the person to take action!

This principle is called AIDA which stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. This is one of the many models that copywriters and advertisers have used in developing marketing pieces for years. There are many other models, but they are just others ways of saying the same thing.

Now the question probably arises is how do you accomplish this task? Write about the benefits of your service or product not the features. What is the difference, well my smart ass answer is higher sales. Features are the facts about your product or service such as it has a 80 GB hard drive and 3.2 Ghz chip etc. Benefits by contrast is what someone will get out of doing business with you. For example, a computer that is faster allows you to access files faster, complete work more quickly and hence makes you more efficient and more profitable.

If you don't remember anything else I wrote here remember this...

People buy benefits not features!

If the copywriting on your web site or in your marketing materials follows AIDA and is benefit based writing and not just features you will find your web site more productive and not just an alter to the gods of fancy but useless technology. Copy is truly King, those that know this sell more and those that don't give jobs to the rest of us by keeping useless web sites on the web and mailing out tons of worthless marketing materials. Hmm, come to think of it, maybe you should just continue doing all the web sites and marketing the old way so I will always have a job!

Michael Temple