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The Web is an emotionally remote hinterland delivered to us through an impenetrable liquid crystal barrier. How, then, can you as a business owner, entrepreneur or marketing executive connect to a target audience that requires emotional reassurance in order to do business?

Gone are the days when we sent out phalanxes of sales representatives pounding the pavement, beating the bushes and generally getting in the face of prospects. Too expensive.

So you hire some hotshot Web designer who isn't as old as the shoes you're wearing. If you spent some money on your site, and you didn't fall into the trap of having your brother-in-law's cousin design the thing, you probably got a technically proficient Web site. Unfortunately, when they teach these "wunderkinder" the ways of the Web at the local community college, they don't teach them anything about business, especially anything about marketing.

A Manifesto for the Web

A bunch of guys a whole lot smarter than me wrote a neat little screed called the The Cluetrain Manifesto. What they said was "markets are conversations consisting of human beings, and the Internet enables these conversations."

Now here's the critical part, "conversations among human beings sound human. They are conducted in a human voice." Now does that sound like the Web you know? Does your site speak with a human voice? Does your site connect in a human way to your customers?

So what does this really mean, this so-called conversation? We are all aware of email, blogs, RSS and the instant messenger technologies that have enabled this conversation to take place. But with these informal conversations comes a danger—sometimes sloppy thinking and misunderstood intent.

Someone sends you an email, and you quickly respond by dashing off an email reply without carefully thinking about how, or what, you are saying. Even if the basic intent and content is accurate, have you really said it in a way that your conversation partner will understand, or will they misconstrue your meaning?

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Jerry Bader is senior partner in MRPwebmedia (www.mrpwebmedia.com), a website-design firm that specializes in Web audio and video. Contact him via info@mrpwebmedia.com or (905) 764-1246.