How important to you is your website?

The other day I was talking with one of my smaller customers (a 10-person company) about their website. I asked them if they knew how much traffic their website was getting. I pointed out that they — the website — hardly appeared in Google searches, unless the search was very specific to their area of expertise AND the suburb of Chicago they are located in. And even with such fine-tuned search criteria, they appeared somewhere at the bottom of the first page of results. All of that concerned me.

When I brought my concerns up to the client, their reaction completely surprised me. They replied that… their website is not a marketing tool for them. What more, they told me that they are likely to turn away potential clients that would come to them through the website. That’s a shocker! They feel that prospects finding them through the web would not match the corporate philosophy and therefore would not make good clients. Instead, they simply use their website as a 1-way communication tool with the existing clients by posting quarterly updates. The website looks dated and uninviting. If I found them through the web, I wouldn’t do business with them even though their philosophy may match how I feel.

In today’s world, for a lot of people, if you don’t have a website or if I can’t find it, you don’t exist, you go by unseen. But if your website looks dated and unappealing, if its appearance does not match how you want the world to see you, sometimes it is better to go unseen. Sadly enough, we still judge a book by its cover and tend to be deceived by appearances.

Your company website is perhaps the single best marketing tool out there: low cost, low maintenance, and yet it can be such high impact — it is the quickest, the most immediate face your company presents to the world. If you don’t think that people who find you on the web are going to subscribe to your philosophy, why not spell your philosophy out on the website? Make sure the website reflects the image you want your clients and prospects to perceive. Add a call to action: “If you like what you hear, if our philosophy matches how you feel, give us a call.” Maybe that way you can save time screening out the “unwanted” clients and maybe, just maybe, you can attract some surprising clients that you wouldn’t find otherwise.

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Should I control when my commercial is played?

Not sure why I’m on this marketing/advertising kick…  Perhaps, I’m spending too much time reading Seth Godin.  Perhaps, it’s my daughter’s addiction to TV shopping.

As a company, someone who had paid for 30 seconds of airtime, how much control do I have over when my commercial is being played?  I’m not talking about a specific time slot, but rather about what other commercials are being played or shown before and after my spot.  If I’m Chrysler trying to convince you, the listener, to buy a new Jeep.  And if I’m Merlin, the 200,000 mile shop, telling you to not waste money on a new car but rather invest in keeping your current car running longer.  Do we want our commercials to be played next to each other?  Are these messages mutually exclusive?  Or are they targeted  at such different segments of listeners that it doesn’t really matter?

Lotus advertising — not for the masses

Using Google’s Reader to read top stories from Wired, I spot this add in the middle of an article block…

Lotus add

Heehaw! Hurrah! I’m tickled pink — a Lotus Notes advertisement in the broad day (or rather desk lamp) light. Sorry, Ed, apologize for my comments. See, Nathan, Lotus marketing is hard at work?

I, of course, click on it.

Lotus trial download

But click on ‘Learn more’…  Oh-oh!  What’s going on?!  Why do I have to be a registered user?! IBM, why are you giving up a chance to pound me with blatant propaganda? Why do you not slam me with a big giant Lotus Notes trout until I’m lying there, senseless, willing to download, install, try and fall in love with Lotus Notes 8? Why do you make me jump through hoops of registration before I can be deemed worthy enough of being subjected to more Lotus marketing?

Oh well. Too late. I’m going somewhere else…

(By the way, I did log-in to the site, just to see what will happen. But alas! There is nothing more to be learned. The next page asked me about my company type, the number of employees and whether I wanted to be contacted. After that it just took me to the downloads. I guess there is no Lotus Notes propaganda after all. I was willing to be learned and I learned nothing.)