Earlier this week I was helping a client refresh some of his outdoor signage and add some more signage by a fairly busy road. He was excited for the extra exposure and commented that at least one of his patrons learned about his organization from the sign above the door. This struck me as interesting, so I inquired more. "Yeah, he said that he was passing by while doing some shopping, saw the sign and thought, 'I wonder what that's all about.' When he got home, he went to our website, and has been coming here ever since!" Here's one for the print media, right? Well, I've give them the assist; credit is due in that the print media got him asking the right questions. Bravo, print media. However, the point is awarded yet again to the website. That is where the questions were answered. That is where potential was realized.
After last week's post, a marketing colleague of mine commented that a company website is "the mothership of the business marketing." He's right, of course, and this truth applies not only to business but also to non-profit organizations and professional services as well. Whether it is a sign by the road, an advertisement in a magazine or banner on the web, the single "blast" cannot communicate the salient details of your company. It cannot express who you are, what you do or what drives your performance. Even if you convey a price, you cannot provide the comparative benefit to complete the other side of the ratio. At their best, here's what your advertisements will do:
- Provoke Questions - We all have questions, and we appreciate it when they are answered. However, no one likes it when people start off answering questions we didn't ask. Good ads don't necessarily answer questions, and they technically don't even ask them. Good ads cause us to ask the right questions.
- Start Conversations - We all know that word of mouth is the Holy Grail of advertising. Everyone everywhere is more likely to patronize a new business based on the recommendation of a trusted individual (even an online reviewer) rather than a solicitous advertisement. Good ads can get those conversations started.
- Drive Traffic - Once you've got your target audience asking the right questions and talking amongst themselves about the topic of your choosing, they are primed to be converted from potentiality to clients. What's going to do that? A lot of times it will be your website. Here their questions can be answered, and their conversations can be engaged.
Remember, first impressions are not always made at the first encounter. Rarely are positive first impressions made with mere advertisements. It usually takes something more holistic and introspective. A dynamic, professional website is a great vehicle for that very thing.