Don't use the 'Baffle them with Bulls...t' approach to Online Marketing
‘Satisfied customers’, ‘we aim to provide excellent service’. there’s a buffet of go-to buzzwords and buzz-phrases on call for any sentence to make it compelling for your website visitor. Or so you think… Trinidad’s online population is not so easy to fool.
Given the nature of my business, I frequently ‘macco’ Trini websites. Truth be told I do it for professional and personal reasons. Professional, to see what’s out there, how other web designers are building sites, what sites my own clients are up against etc. Personal, for my own ego to ‘confirm’ I’m the best in the country, (vain right? Sue me!)
I’ve observed a common practice in the wording of many an About page or Services page on local websites, and that is the use, overuse, misuse and downright abuse of buzzwords as a tactical tool. So much so that they appear to be using the same fill-in-the-blanks template.
There are many reasons for this, and I’ve narrowed them down to about five:
1. The belief that it's standard practice
It’s so pervasive that it must be on purpose and not mere coincidence. And I think I know the reason why. In the early days of websites this was how most content was crafted. As websites caught on, they just kept following the format which eventually became the standard.
But that was before the present form of online marketing and waaaay before the precise application of inbound marketing techniques that obtains today. My point is, it’s NOT the standard, far from it.
2. The belief that it actually works
Another reason is the belief that it’s what potential customers want and expect to hear. Often these are very real written pieces and accurate in many respects. But the acute peppering of buzzwords makes for good yawning at the blah, blah, blah reading and sounding like blah, blah, blah.
So you’re saying that “Trini Company Limited, provides top quality customer service and makes all effort to ensure that your project is delivered in a timely manner…’. And your visitor reads “Trini Company Limited provides blah, blah, blah, yawn, yawn, blah.
The buzzwords here are” ‘top quality’, ‘customer service’, ‘timely manner’, which on there own are very compelling, but strung together in the above predictable sentence are very ‘yawn-elling’.
3. Not knowing any other way
You, the site owner, can be forgiven for your naïveté (for want of a better word), for you’re good at what you do, you know, actually running your business, and website content writing is not your thing. You depend on your web designer to be your guide and assist in mining and gathering the right content and crafting the final copy.
This means that if your web designer is not doing so, and is just throwing up whatever copy you submit, well… what are you paying for? No forgiveness, kick him (her, it) to the curb. Your website is not for style.
4. Cannot write to save your life
Everyone can write but not everyone can write. All writers are writers but not all writers are writers. And you KNOW what I mean by that. Because of this fact, site owners simply fall back to the tried and true recipe that makes sense to them, many times following from other sites that unfortunately suffered from the same dilemma. Classic case of the blind leading the blind.
5. Sheer Laziness
This is laziness that implies the belief in the gullibility of your visitor, so no real effort is needed, you know, ‘dah good dey…’, which, unfortunately is the reality that is Trini mentality. There is the minority who will make the effort, but without the guidance of your web designer, the results won’t be optimal.
Will use of buzzwords hurt you?
It doesn’t hurt you per se, but I’m emphasizing optimal crafting of content. There’s average, good, great, super, fantastic and out of this world. Buzzwords are average. And being at the bottom of the food chain, you won’t even register a blip on visitors’ radar so you might as well let your domain expire and rock in the hammock.
What's better than buzzwords?
Blatant overuse of buzzwords have no place in today’s inbound marketing lexicon. That is not to say that they have some place, because buzzwords are still words and they may really be appropriate to describe your company. There is no replacement for the term ‘customer service’, but how do you use it without it sounding hollow?
1. Use the Truth
They say truth is stranger than fiction, and at the risk of your Trini visitor getting a stroke actually reading the good truth about your business I say still go brave! Note I said ‘good truth’ even though that list may be a short one. I don’t expect you to say your store has rats., it’s the good truth not the whole truth. But for heaven’s sake, put a rat trap.
2. Use your Voice
This is PURE GOLD what I’m telling you here, let the words be in your voice, i.e. the persona of your company, business and business culture. Every line your visitors reads must be you. That’s because visitors are not only looking for the cold hard facts, they’re looking for an EMOTIONAL CONNECTION. Yes!
… visitors are not only looking for the cold hard facts, they’re looking for an EMOTIONAL CONNECTION
That’s why I tell clients not to get hung up so much on first place search ranking as being number one doesn’t guarantee the conversion to a sale. If the top 5 sites on a search are closely matched then the one that wins is the one that gives the strongest emotional connection. You can take that to the bank.
3. Use your Words
I use a novel method to get clients to explain WHY customers should choose them over their competitors. I ask them the question point blank! At first, most give me a deer in headlights expression because I caught them off guard. Then they start to flow.
After they enthusiastically and passionately describe their raison d’être, I tell them to WRITE EXACTLY WHAT THEY SAID. Why? Because it’s their words. Though there’ll be a little polish for the web, it’s their words that make all the difference.
4. Use your Web Designer
Any web designer worth his salt should have a process down pat to effectively vet, compile and craft your content into compelling copy worthy of your website. Even if you can do a bang up job yourself (and credit to you), he should be able to critically evaluate for optimal positioning that ties into your inbound and online marketing strategy.
It’s easy to be casual about your website’s content and not put too much stock into it’s design. That’s a big mistake as potential customers want substance and award you big points for even appearing to make the effort. So make the effort and knock it out of the park by showing them you actually give a damn.