Jell-O Without Whip Cream
Do you like Jell-O? It's OK, I guess. I mean, it's not a hot fudge sundae, is it? But if you add a little whip cream, then you've got something worth calling dessert.
My question to you is, Does your Web site have that something extra, that dollop of whip cream on top that says "oh, mama, let me at it," or does it just lie there squirming in your dish with the sound of Peggy Lee's voice ringing in your ears, "is that all there is?"
If your Web site disappointments, you need something that provides the eureka factor—and that can be provided with a creative, informative Web video.
The Chicago Bulls Without Michael Jordan
How the mighty have fallen, at least in terms of brand personality. I mean it's not like the Chicago Bulls stink. It's just that without MJ they're not the Chicago Bulls of old.
When Michael played, we all watched; he was magic; he wasn't just a great basketball player—he was a great personality and he gave the team its character. No Michael, no personality.
Is your Web site like the new Chicago Bulls, a talented group of players with skills but no singular personality?
Time for a humanity injection: Add a Web video featuring a signature-character host who can generate some excitement and establish your unique business personality.
Television Without Sound
You're watching your favorite television show, say CSI (the Vegas one, not Miami), and the phone rings. It's your mother. You turn the television's sound down so you can hear her, but you're still watching the show.
You love your Mom, but Grissom has just discovered a new miniature killer clue and you need to know what is going on, but your Mom is carrying on about how your Dad needs new dentures or something... Frustrating. No audio, no information.
Does your Web site have the same effect as watching television without the sound? It's there, people visit, but they leave without getting your message. Time to add a little life to your presentation in the form of a Web video that tells your story out loud.
Words Without Meaning
Have you ever read someone's Web-site copy several times and still not understood what the heck they're trying to tell you? Or maybe you understand every word but still can't figure out what they're selling? Words have meaning; they are meant to convey a message, not hide it.
A lousy video script is no better than lousy print copy. Your Web audience has no patience for mumbo-jumbo that masquerades as information, or for text and dialog that say nothing, in as many words as possible, in an effort to attract the search engines.
Words have meaning—say them with style and deliver them with conviction.
The Rumba Without Rhythm
Have you ever sat at a wedding and watched people dance? There are the people who know how to move, respond to their partners, and communicate with the slightest of gestures or movements. And then there are the others who look like they've got something icky stuck to the bottom of their shoes and are trying desperately to remove it.
If you want to communicate to your audience, you have to use all the techniques available. Communication is more than just copy: It's voice, gesture, movement, and meaningful dialog.
Romance Without Kisses
Ah... the first kiss, something special that can seal a relationship or sour it forever. Your landing page is like that first embrace. Is yours as exciting as it could be, or is it like the guy who spends the entire first date talking about his double-entry bookkeeping skills?
A well-crafted, expertly presented marketing message is like a seduction: If you're not generating any excitement, don't expect to produce any sales, either.
Boring mission-statement gobbledygook and keyword-laden palaver are not the same as an enticing video. An engaging business story, well told, is like a juicy wet one planted right on your audience's lips.
A Joke Without A Punch Line
Everybody likes a funny story. A good joke is nothing more than a short story with a setup, an escalation, and a twist; but the real key to a good story lies in the telling. Even comedians with second-rate material can get their audiences howling if they know how to deliver their material.
It's all well and good to repeat the mantra "Web sites are about content," but if that content isn't delivered with some style and panache... don't expect anybody to pay much attention.
A Song Without a Hook
Hit songs are highly structured stories with verses that function as chapters or acts and a chorus that provides the hook that sticks in your audience's heads. Add a toe-tapping beat and some instrumental flourishes, and you've got something that people will listen to over and over again.
Does that sound like your Web site presentation? Are people willing to come back to your site just to watch your presentation, or does your Web site leave visitors with a "been there, done that" impression?
Information Without Knowledge
Just because you're in business doesn't mean you've got to be boring. And just because you dump a lot of facts and figures and bulleted points onto your Web pages doesn't mean you're making a convincing argument for anyone to buy your stuff.
Web audiences demand more. If you won't give it to them, you can be sure someone else will.
Interactivity Without Purpose
Can we all just stop and take a breath and think about this whole interactivity thing? Let's all get interactive... but why? I mean, what is interactivity, anyway?
Is it developing a hugely expensive game that people can play on your Web site to avoid working, or is it getting them to click on the "Tell Me More" button?
I vote for the interactivity that leads to opening a dialogue with a potential client, one that gets visitors to pick up the phone and call you to discuss their needs, not the one that generates a "Game Over" message.
Of course, that assumes you're willing to actually talk to customers.
Frequency Without Resonance
I happen to like vinegar on my fries (it's a Canadian thing). OK, it's weird, I admit it, but the Dutch like mayonnaise on theirs—even weirder.
I once had a chef in a Tucson restaurant come out of the kitchen and confront me when I asked the waiter for vinegar. The chef approached the table and asked who ordered the vinegar. I reluctantly raised my hand. "You must be from Canada," he said, "I'm from Victoria, where you from?"
Good advertising is all about delivering a message that resonates with your audience. It doesn't matter how many times you run an advertisement if that advertisement doesn't make an impression on your audience. So you can't be afraid to be creative, or even a bit weird.
Humor Without Laughter
Dr. Max Sutherland, in his email newsletter report, "False Alarm Theory: How Humorous Ads Work," describes how laughter is a hardwired residual mechanism that developed in our ape days as an "all clear" signal once a danger had past. The "all clear" message is passed on from one ape to another until the entire troop is screeching with the ecstasy of survival.
A guy slips on a banana and breaks his neck—that's not funny. A guy slips on a banana, jumps up and looks around to see if anybody saw—that's funny.
Humor is based on creating some sense of uncertainty or tension that is ultimately relieved with a humorous punch line or comforting resolution. The safe or amusing resolution creates a chain reaction in the audience that signals, "Hey, guys, all is well; everything is back to normal."
Without tension there can be no relief, no opportunity for an entertaining resolution that creates a cascading viral reaction among your audience. So don't expect your Web site to be passed on to friends and colleagues unless you deliver a compelling presentation that offers the opportunity to signal the rest of the world that all is well.