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Why Should I Visit Your Website -

And Why Should I Stick Around?

by Kay Ross

You probably think that your company, your product or service and your website are as fascinating to everyone else as they are to you.

I'm sorry to disillusion you, but the vast majority of your current and prospective website visitors out there don't care about you and your website; they're only interested in themselves.

Every one of us goes through the day bombarded by input in the form of marketing messages, pressures, opinions, distractions, temptations... So in order to make sense of the world and avoid being overwhelmed, we need a filter. That filter is the WIIFM ("What's in it for me?") question. Every input is assessed in terms of whether or not it will help us get more of what we want in life (health, wealth, wisdom, happiness, sex, power, status...), or, at the very least, avoid what we don't want in life (fear, risk, poverty, pain, loss, sickness, loneliness, rejection, loss of face...). That assessment happens in a split second in the emotional part of our brain - logic only kicks in later when we have to justify our decisions.

So on your website, don't tell your visitors about how wonderful your product or service is; don't drown them in technical jargon and specifications; don't boast about your ISO9000 certification and your years of experience; don't rave about your commitment to customer service. You have to grab your visitors' attention by answering the WIIFM question, showing them how you'll help them solve the problems they face, and tapping into their emotions. Because your website visitors don't HAVE to buy from you, and it only takes a moment for them to decide to leave.

Let me give you an example. I recently came across the website of a company that sells car polish. The very first paragraph on the homepage looked something like this (to protect the innocent, I've changed some of the details): "XYZ Ltd. was established in 1990, and the management personnel of the company have been in the chemical industry for many years. The major business activities of XYZ Ltd. are in Japan. The business philosophy of all of XYZ Ltd.'s managers is to give our customers personal and special attention."

Does that compel you to pull out your credit card and order some car polish today? I didn't think so. If I were selling car polish, I'd want to find out what my clients and prospective clients FEEL about their cars. Why do they buy car polish? What are they afraid might happen if they DON'T polish their cars? When, where, how and how often do they polish their cars? How does my polish help them to maintain or even improve the value of their cars? And how much are they willing to spend on taking care of their cars?

Then I'd re-write that first paragraph of my homepage so that it looked more like this: "You love your car. The rich aroma of the leather interior. The powerful thrust of the engine as it shifts through the gears. The immaculate gleam of the freshly polished paintwork. The admiring glances of other drivers. Keep it that way - order XYZ Car Polish today."

Did you notice that there's not a single mention of the company there? Not a word about its history, the experienced managers or their business philosophy. It's all about the client. And it gives them a reason to read more.

Action suggestion

Take a look at the very first paragraph of your website's homepage. Is it about you, or is it about your client and his/her wants and needs? Does it appeal to the emotions and the senses? Does it make the reader want to stick around and read more? If not, change it! After all, you've invested a lot of time and money in building your website, maintaining it and getting it hosted, so you want a return on that investment, don't you?

Copyright Kay Ross

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Kay Ross is a Hong Kong-based marketing consultant & coach, editor and copywriter. She devises creative marketing strategies and crafts compelling English-language marketing communications messages that translate into bottom-line results for her clients. To learn more, visit www.kayross.com.

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Sharing tips at the "Making the Most of the Media" seminar
September 18, 2006