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The Art Of The Sale-Developing Website Content

Masterfully written by: J. Bader

There was a time in the Province of Ontario, when you couldn't show people drinking beer in a television commercial. In fact, you couldn't even show the bottle; about the only beer-related item you could show was the label. So advertisers were forced to concentrate on attractive young people having a good time. The beer was never seen, only implied.

You would think this restriction would have been a major impediment to selling beer, but because advertisers were forced to sell the psychological benefit rather than the conventional features, they by necessity, had to concentrate on the emotional hotspot, thereby establishing the brand's true value to consumers.

The government of the day in it's puritanical silliness, actually helped the beer companies find better ways to sell more beer than they would otherwise have found left on their own.

What's your psychological hotspot?

The Web is not all that different; it's not that there is anything in particular that you can't show, it's just that there are many things that when shown as they are, just don't capture the spirit of the product. Sandpaper is not about abrasive characteristics, it's about beautiful furniture or a new family room; board games aren't about cardboard pieces, they're about having a good time with family and friends; and cosmetics are not about this years trendy colors, or botanical elixirs, they're about simply making yourself as appealing as possible.

This fundamental fact, should be at the heart of any website content development initiative. No matter what you sell, a product, a service, and even an idea, it's the psychological benefit and the emotional hotspot that will make or break your Web presentation.

An Exercise in Creative Thinking

Take a piece of paper that's blank on both sides. On one side write down all of the features and benefits you normally present when selling a client. On the other side of the paper write down what psychological value or emotional benefit each of these features actually represents. Now you decide, which side of the paper makes for a more powerful, memory inducing presentation, the features themselves, or what the features actually mean to your clients?

What business are you really in?

The same exercise can be used for the company as a whole. On one side of the paper list all the things you do for clients, then on the other side, list how these services or products actually affect your clients' psychological frame-of-mind or emotional wellbeing. For example, Michelin manufacturers tires, but they're really in the safety business: tread design, rubber compounds, and manufacturing techniques are all merely things that make for a safer trip in the family car.

What's the purpose of your website?

Every company has a website, they have become as ubiquitous and commonplace as a phonebook listing or business card. Some companies spend a fortune on the latest trendy Web-technologies without ever thinking about what purpose it all serves. Other companies spend next to nothing because they really have no idea why they even need a website; they have one because everyone else has one.

If your website doesn't have a purpose, you will never be able to develop appropriate content, and without appropriate content it doesn't matter what your website looks like, or what trendy development techniques you employ. The questions you need to ask yourself are why do I have a website; what purpose does it serve, and what do we expect to achieve? Only after you've answered these questions can you develop appropriate content for your site.

Sales are based on trust, not prices.

If you think the only purpose a website should have is to sell stuff, then you're never going to develop a successful long-term Web-business. Websites should not be treated as zero sum games where whatever you gain is offset by whatever someone else looses. If you're not a conman, don't act like one.
The other day I was searching for an expensive piece of equipment. I found a website that sold what we needed. It was your standard catalogue site with little or no information about the company, what it stood for, or who was responsible for what.

Once I saw the extremely low prices they were charging, sirens started to go off in my head. The first thing I did was look for an address but none was listed, then I tried to phone but was left on hold for about ten minutes, finally I did a search for the company, and what I came up with was not surprising. This company had as foul a reputation as any I have heard about.

You better understand why people buy.
A website is a communication vehicle, and communicating means more than a picture, a price, and an order button. If sales are what you're all about, you better understand why people buy particular products and services from specific sellers. Increased sales are the result of investing in building strong business relationships. Your website can help you do that by imparting knowledge, building trust, establishing personality, and emphasizing emotional and psychological value: all the ingredients needed to give your company a competitive advantage.

What do visitors remember about you?

Your website is designed with the sole purpose of selling visitors without any further contact with your company, chances are, you're only going to close a small percentage of site traffic. Understanding that the sale-to-traffic ratio is small, you no doubt spent a considerable amount of time and money attracting as many visitors as possible. Therefore, for every visitor that leaves without purchasing, you've suffered a net loss from your marketing investment.

But what if you adopt a more liberal attitude toward your marketing purpose. Instead of ignoring and perhaps even shunning those that don't buy, let's say you give them something to remember, something to experience, something to bring them back to you when they are ready to buy. By doing so, you've maximized your investment in generating site traffic, and you've given yourself an opportunity to ultimately take advantage of their interest and attraction to your website.

How do you turn your site into a memorable experience?

There is often reluctance on the part of business owners to invest in things that can't be tied directly to their bottom line, but failure to understand the broader implications of marketing as a indirect sales tool, will ultimately cripple sales efforts. There is no secret scientific formula, or computer model that will make your business a success; just a realization that sales are a function of trust, understanding, and an acknowledgement of the psychological and emotional value of what you sell. Build your website content and presentation around these factors and you will maximize the benefit of your investment in attracting an interested audience.