This article is based on the new book, The Stranger's Long Neck: How to Deliver What Your Customers Really Want Online.

Customers Behaving Differently

These potential customers were not behaving as expected. They were avoiding all the classic marketing material on the website and were instead digging deep into the technical details and spending considerable time in the support section.

Strange, considering that they hadn't even bought the product yet. The organization's marketers were surprised by such behavior. They thought it strange.

But it's not that strange, really. I've seen that pattern occur again and again on the Web. Customers want details, facts, comparisons, and feedback from other customers. They avoid the fluff and waffle and marketing hype.

In fact, when applied to the Web, old-school marketing drives many customers away. That's because old-school marketers, when on the Web, are like needy children tugging repeatedly at the customer's sleeve while whining, "Pay some attention to me!"

"This is marketing," one customer complained as he sought to do product research on the website. "I don't have time for this."

Many people associate marketing and advertising with deception, lies, half-truths, and manipulation. When marketers talk about wanting customers to have an emotional engagement with the brand, what many customers hear is an attempt to exploit human emotions to make profit.

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image of Gerry McGovern
Gerry McGovern ( is a content management consultant and author. His latest book is The Stranger's Long Neck: How to Deliver What Your Customers Really Want Online, which teaches unique techniques for identifying and measuring the performance of customers' top tasks.