One Chance is All You Get.
We get all kinds of clients -- in all
type of businesses -- knocking on the door of the Frankel & Anderson
cybervault, seeking the Truth about advertising on the net. At one end
of the spectrum are the people with megabucks. At the other end are people
with white patent leather loafers.
The megabucks crowd view the internet
as an adjunct to their traditional media mix: a little print, a little
TV or radio -- maybe even a professional endorsement by a recovering professional
athlete. The white loafer contingent figure that nothing can stop them,
now that their modem has been upgraded to a blazing 33.6 and AOL has flattened
their "unlimited use" fee.
Chances are you land somewhere in the
middle of the two, wondering which traditional advertising approaches
really can port to the internet. If you were with us last week, you got
a pretty heavy dose of "why traditional media concepts like frequency
don't work on the net". So if you can't rely on constantly pounding
your message into the brains of unsuspecting viewers, what CAN you do
to make your advertising effective?
You can spend money. And lots of it.
Nah, I'm only kidding. Just seeing if
you were awake. Actually, you need to make one realization that totally,
completely, absolutely contradicts everything you learned in Advertising
101. You need to accept the fact that since frequency doesn't apply in
net advertising, you have ONLY ONE CHANCE to make an impression. And that
means your home page has got to hit 'em hard between the eyes the very
first time they see it.
No matter how high or low your budget
is, nothing is more important than that first strategic, creatively compelling
message that pops up on your prospect's desktop. Make no mistake: banners
and links are great, but nobody expects to get your story from banners
and links. Those are like little bread crumbs, gently enticing your prospects
to click their way to your online gingerbread house. No, my friend, they
expect to get the whole story from the very first page on your site. And
if you confuse them, or turn them off with anything else, they're gone
-- and you're sunk. So let me jot down a few observations you may want
to tuck away on a floppy:
1. FLAUNT THAT PERSONALITY. Before we
go any further, let me say that I'm not talking about loading up your
home page with bells and whistles and java scripts. I'm saying that your
visitors need to know your personality by the time your GIF files de-interlace
on your very first page (any of you brave enough to visit our site
know this to be true: one look at the home page and you know we're not
your run of the mill kind of agency). If you don't want to be lumped in
with the 257,658 other listings in your Yahoo category, dare to be different.
Better yet, dare to be yourself. It's the one thing nobody else can duplicate.
2. BE GRAPHICALLY EXPLICIT. If you're
going to be different, DON'T use the same clip art everyone else uses.
That only conveys your lack of imagination. Custom graphics are a lot
less expensive -- and far more distinctive -- than you might think. Fully
99% of visitors who call me from having seen our site ask, "Is that
your head bopping around?" Memorable? You bet.
3. BURY THE COPY UNDER A LINK. The net
is a graphical environment, not copy intensive. Keep the main points on
the home page, but bury the tomes of non-essentials in pages that link
off the home page. Nothing says, "Don't read me" better than
a screen full of standard text -- unless someone is motivated to click
to that page knowing that they want to read a lot.
4. BE CREATIVE, NOT DOPEY. Being creative
is fine. Being a dope isn't. Yet this is one of the biggest mistake most
people make when designing their home page. Frankel's Rule of Creativity
clearly states that "If it doesn't have a strategic reason for being
there, lose it." So go through each creative element on your site
and ask yourself what strategic purpose is it really serving. If your
answer falls anywhere within the "huh?' to "it's not really
hurting anything" range, lose it. It's only serving to distract your
5. I'D RATHER BE CLEAR THAN CLEVER. Finally,
realize that we're talking about having ONE CHANCE to communicate your
ideas persuasively, so don't clutter up your message with ruses designed
to be funny or clever or technically dazzling. Get to the point -- fast
-- in an appealing, impactful and most importantly -- memorable -- way.
That way, they may not bookmark your site,
but at least you'll have bookmarked their brains.