A normal commercial website is not some other magical, mysterious thing. So here's the idea: Treat it like an advertisement!
How do you turn your website into an effective advertisement for your product or service?
In other words, which factors, when put into any advertisement, make it an effective ad that makes people buy?
Treat any commercial website, first and foremost, as a continual advertisement. In application, this means that the website's design must include the same points you would expect to find in any effective advertisement. Which begs the obvious question:
What DO you expect to find in a good, effective advertisement that gets people to buy?
Answer: An interesting presentation that creates want through pictures and text.
If an advertisement isn't interesting, that makes it boring by definition (and not worthy of further attention). If an ad doesn't grab and hold one's attention then it won't be effective since it won't be read. To this, add the fact that internet users are notoriously mouse-happy--they'll click out of your website the instant they get bored.
However, even the most interesting ad can be completely ineffective. Pictures of pretty girls and kittens and fast cars have long been used in advertising because they attract attention--what you DO with that attention once you have it determines how effective the ad is.
How do you make your interesting ad into an effective advertisement? To be effective, an advertisement should include all these following points:
In short, as well as holding someone's attention and making that person want the product, the ad should contain enough factual information about the product to enable that person to purchase it as soon as possible.
List those points out on a piece of paper and (as obvious as this may sound, do it anyway) answer those questions. Now make sure that enough of the information you've written down goes into the actual website (or advertisement) to answer those questions in the mind of anyone visiting your website (or reading your ad).
There are many shortcuts made on these six points, especially by corporations with huge advertising budgets. Many advertisements you see focus on only one of these points. Some companies spend barrels of money to establish a brand name presence in a particular market. This practice is called "branding" and is a part of "Who is making or selling the product" point above.
The Nike Corporation has spent millions of dollars on TV and magazine ads simply establishing its "Whoosh" logo. Of course the cost of all that wasted advertising gets passed on to the consumer. Would Nike's sneakers cost $150 a pair if they kept their advertising budget in line? Too much money gets wasted this way.
The lack of a sales return for advertising dollars spent is one of the chief complaints of those spending their money on advertising in print media, TV, radio and on websites. Don't let this happen to you through your website! Those selling advertising can tell you that most small businesses must watch very carefully where they spend their advertising dollars. To have the best chance of an advertisement making you money, keep in place all those points listed above.
We started out in business 30 some years ago as the owner and operator of a small regional advertising directory. Most of our advertisers were small businesses or individuals; they didn't know how to design advertisements and couldn't afford to hire PR or advertising firms to design marketing campaigns for them. Some of them couldn't even afford to have a professional graphic artist design a single ad for them. If we wanted them to have a "professional-looking" advertisement in our directory, we had to make it for them, and we learned very quickly that those practical points listed above had to be included in the advertisements we made, for the ads to work. It took all the guesswork out of what makes an advertisement work. Thirty years later, some of those same advertisements we designed are still running!
By the way, while you are rummaging through our website, if you look for them, you'll find all of these six points of an effective advertisement in our presentation--many of them on our home page.
For two excellent and highly recommended books on advertising, see this section of our books page. If you never read anything else about advertising, you should read David Ogilvy's Confessions of an Advertising Man. It is well worth getting hold of a hard copy and reading it. You might well ask, "Is a book written in the 1960's still relevant in this post-Millennial internet world?" Absolutely!
Contact us here if you need an ad designed for you or you want specific information on how you can make your website work as an advertisement.