Monday, 24 May 2010

Will you remember me tomorrow?

Getting some cut through in the clutter of brands and advertising is a challenge for any company, small or big. The internet has created competition for local businesses where previously there may have been none. Our competition is now only a click away.

Even for individuals, who are consulting or freelancing, therefore selling their own expertise, competition is everywhere due to remote and virtual services. You can employ a PA, a marketing expert and a bookeeper virtually, the actual people don’t need to be by your side.

So getting some cut through is even more important than it ever was before. If you can find a way to be a bit different this may go some way in a highly competitive environment. There are plenty of ways to do this and one of these is to be memorable. I wanted to share with you a site I came across for a Lawson Clarke which is highly memorable. He is an advertising copywriter.

Advertising is a creative sector in itself so you really need to be clever to get cut through in this area. Believe me – you won’t forget Lawson if you have seen his web site.

He decided to pose naked on his home page as a parody of the famous 70’s photo from the Cosmoplitan magazine where Burt Reynolds lay naked on an animal skin rug. Don’t worry his modesty is protected by the TV!

The site is then a very simple and easy to navigate portfolio of his work. Take a look at his “contact” section. I believe that it is the simplicity that makes it work as much as the creative idea.

Finally it is also a success because he has considered his sector and his audience. You shouldn’t be creating a grey linear site when you are marketing yourself as an advertising exec. Having said this, standard communication and drab design is not going to be memorable for B to B, financial services or other more traditional sectors either.

So even if you don’t fancy posing nude on your site home page, let’s dare to be a bit different, let’s look at an idea that is not quite as safe as usual and give it a try.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Getting the basics right

I always have my eye on the French news and I spotted a report from on what French customers are looking for from a branded site. I don’t think the French are any different from us when it comes to web surfing so we could probably apply it to the UK as well.

The results on the surface are may seem a touch obvious.

78% of people go to a brand’s site for information on the products and services
54% for the online store
44% to find a nearby outlet
38% for help on how to use the product / service
37% for customer benefits
31% for contact with customer services
30% for information on the brand
10% for games / competitions
9% for advertising
7% to interact with other customers
(several responses are possible)

However, I think in reality this is quite interesting. This survey screams to brand owners that the web experience is first and foremost about information and assistance.

Customers want and expect to find clear information about your products and services . We can wax lyrical about social media and it certainly has its role to play for brands but we must first get the basics right.

Information needs to be set out clearly with easy navigation. An easy-to-use accessible site will give the customer the reassurance that you know what you are doing. If your site is putting obstacles in the way, what does that say about the products or services you are selling and their potential to be outstanding?

A simple test would be to put some of your customers, or even a couple of friends in front of your web site and just watch what they do. It is sometimes hard for us marketers to realise which bits the customer will trip up on. Sometimes it is the most obvious. As I have said before, even the really big brands have some big usability issues making it hard to find simple pieces of information. During the volcanic ash episode, my favourite target the air travel sites, notable Jet2 and easyjet’s informations was extremely poor, confusing and contradictory.

For the next step, you could try setting your customers a couple of really easy tasks to find on your web site and see if they manage. Usability testing doesn’t always have to be hi-tech, this method is possible for any small business.

Make sure access to the customer service line is easy to find and welcoming. If this survey is true, a third of all customers are just looking for some kind of assistance. The customer service experience is a moment of truth, when the customer will make up their mind about your brand. A brand advocate can be created from a great experience, since so many are so poor! Take the opportunity to do it well!