It should go without saying. Emphasis on should. Unfortunately, years of experience reveal a very different reality. So, for the record, marketing isn’t about YOU.
Really, it isn’t.
Time and time again, our initial client meetings start with the person across the conference table launching with words to the effect of “I want…” or “my boss wants…” And, time and again, we steer the conversation in what typically becomes a very different direction.
It doesn’t seem to matter if we’re talking about a top-down strategic plan or a specific project. It doesn’t seem to matter if we’re talking to a Main Street retailer or international chemical distributor. So, to keep it simple, let’s say that we’re talking about building a new website for a global widget manufacturer.
“Ok,” the prospective client starts with, “the boss really likes how XYZ Competitor’s website looks. We want you to build that for us.”
“Ok,” we reply. “What are you hoping to accomplish with your new website?”
“Well, we’d like our new site to look like our competitor’s site.”
“Sure,” we say, cautiously. “But why, exactly?”
At this point, the prospective client is a little confused, and it shows. “Um, because the boss likes how that site looks.”
Please forgive my going all reduction ad absurdum here – but I’ve had that conversation (almost verbatim) several times. It sometimes takes a few tries, but we never leave until we’re sure the new client understands one crucial thing:
The point of the new website is to make it easier for customers to do business with you.
Yes, you want the boss to like the site. She’s paying for it, so she ought to love it. But that can’t be Job One. The priority should be on creating a functional, engaging customer experience that boosts new customer creation and enhances existing customer relationships.
To emphasize this point, our website jobs never start with design. And this is hard, because that’s where the client wants to focus and, frankly, it’s more fun. However, determining the site’s functionality is much more important, and it really is too easy for everyone to get caught up in shades of blue or pink or whether the logo should be top-left or centered.
Question 1 – the real Question 1 – should be this: What do you want your customers to be able to accomplish on the site?
Question 2 then becomes: How can we make that experience easy for them, while creating a positive feeling toward your service and branding?
Nothing against great design. To the contrary, we’re all about great design. But, as Tim will tell you, great design flows from superb functionality. The CEO’s favorite fonts are important, and we promise the boss will not be disappointed (unless they’re a huge fan of Chancery – just putting it out there).
But the time and place for that discussion is AFTER we nail the site’s functionality and, more importantly, how customers will respond to it.