Each page of your website is like a handshake. Really. To illustrate this statement, let me set the stage for you. You are manning your company’s booth at a trade show and a prospect wonders by and is within reach. This person looks at your booth, pauses, and then takes a brief moment to ask about your product or service offering. What do you say? Remember – you only have about one minute to make an impression and keep their interest. You have about the time it takes to shake someone’s hand.
I just finished a call with a client, which is what led me to write this blog entry. On the call, we were discussing page content for his new website. Without realizing it, I found myself saying “Your website content is like a trade show. You have one minute to make an impression and keep a prospect’s attention. What do you say as you shake someone’s hand and make introductions?” His response was that his trade show pitch wasn’t at all close to what he wrote for the website page that discusses that same topic.
The reason I came to this illustration is that this client is from a B2B technology company. The writer of the content speaks at an educated level and tends to go into significant depth on the “how” when writing content. In actuality, he simply needs to discuss the “what” and more importantly, the “what’s in it for me”. He’s absolutely great at demonstrating his product and is very good at explaining the technology behind his offering, but the web page isn’t a demonstration. You simply are not afforded that much time. It is a handshake or an introduction.
My ten-year-old daughter is, in some ways, like my client. I call her the “clock builder”. If I ask her the time, she doesn’t just give me the time. She wants to build me the entire clock to help illustrate how she reached the point of knowing the time. I love her to death, but she is way too much like me. We are clock builders by nature, which is good if you are a clock builder but not so great if you are writing content for a basic web page.
Back in my early twenties a sales manager at my first job said “Rebecca why can’t you just tell me the time? Why do you always have to build me the clock?” He was right. Many years later I still want to build everyone the clock. I have to make a conscious effort to simply just tell them the time. I’ve learned to adjust my clock building tendencies when I’m writing content for a website, although I still struggle with building the clock for my husband or friends.
The pages of your website only give you enough time with your visitor that is equivalent to a handshake. They are brief moments that allow you to connect with the visitor’s needs or wants. You must provide enough in depth verbiage to offer value, but not so deep of content that you make the visitor feel like they just fell into a graduate level course at Harvard.
My client is a smart man and not a clock builder. I suspect he will have a much easier time adjusting than I did years ago.