The Self-Absorbed Website

How do you know if refocusing your message is critical?

Creating your own resume is tough because it is hard to be objective. There are similar challenges with keeping objective about the company you manage. Here is one way to gauge where your company stands.

Companies without a focused message often have what might be called a self-absorbed website. Instead of identifying customer problems the company solves, they prattle endlessly about themselves.

Imagine being on a first date with someone who talks constantly about himself. It doesn't matter if there is an interesting person in there, somewhere. Pretty quickly your only thought becomes: How can I extract myself from this situation?

Websites' and newspapers' first responsibility: A tough job

Newspapers are laid out so the most important news of the day is immediately clear, to entice anyone walking past the newsstand to purchase. The first responsibility of a website is to make it obvious why the visitor should stay.

Studies of websites and newspapers agree come to an oddly similar result. Whether visiting a new website, or viewing today's newspaper on a newsstand, the average user takes between one and two seconds to decide whether to stay (or buy). Decades ago, newspapers learned they needed a headline editor, to watch out for the appeal visible by anyone walking by a newsstand.

First-time visitors must see clear signals that the site offers something of specific interest, or they leave quickly.

Everything is more expensive without a focused message

Example of costs of an unfocused message: Public relations

Best practices in public relations have not changed much with the Web. What has changed is the velocity of information, and the impact—positive or negative—of adhering to best practices.

Then and now, trade magazine editors' first question is: Why will my readers care? The obvious follow-up question: What problem that my readers have do you solve? And the question that is never missed: Do you have a customer story for the article? Changing your message from self-absorbed to solutions-oriented is the answer for your site visitors and publication editors

Before Web-based commerce, there were editors who knew their readers. There still are. Getting editors' attention and then earning credibility was and is about releasing a series of press releases that explain how a company addresses problems their readers have, hopefully in a better way than before. A look at a company's website, to check for a meaningful and persuasive message, can discourage an editor from running a PR piece before the conversation starts.

When the message is not clear, the dollars per PR placement cost is much higher. Further, one of the most important PR benefits is diluted when prospects who click through the release don't see a clear message when they get to your site.

Next: Online automation factors makes delaying more expensive