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136 Words That Will Reinvigorate Your Website by Jerry Bader

"It takes 136 Words to reinvigorate your website, and maybe your business.

136 Words to build an image and to establish a signature corporate personality.

136 Words to create name recognition and to imbed your identity in your audience's mind.

136 words to make you more than just a pitchman, more than just another interchangeable supplier.

136 words to turn commercial annoyance into memorable, meaningful, business conversation.

136 words that can be used on your website, email campaign landing pages, and digital presentations.

136 finely crafted words that when expertly written and professionally delivered, can turn your Web-presence around and maybe, just maybe, your entire operation.

136 Words to make a difference, the most important 136 Words your prospects will hear.

It takes 136 Words to create sixty seconds of audio.

What's your 136 Words?"

Defining the Problem

It is not surprising that many CEOs, marketing managers and business owners are frustrated by the ineffectiveness of their websites. Everyone in business understands the power of the Web and we are all tantalized by its potential. But rarely does that potential get fulfilled. So whose fault is it? Well there is certainly enough blame to go around: website designers who don't understand business; IT departments that superimpose technical solutions on marketing problems; and business managers who fail to clearly define and deliver a simple and consistent marketing message.

The prime directive in any webmedia initiative (website, email campaign, or digital presentation) is to deliver the marketing message. It doesn't matter if you're big or small, have a huge budget or are working on a shoestring. It doesn't matter if your intention is to build market recognition, showcase corporate expertise, present saleable merchandise, distribute product knowledge, provide customer service, facilitate order-desk inquiries, drive brick-and-mortar traffic, or implement an e- commerce sales system; if you don't deliver a consistent and coherent marketing message, you will fail. All your efforts will be lost in the clutter and noise of a ferociously competitive marketplace.

Discovering the Solution

It is not surprising that the classic business consultant's opening question to a CEO is, "What business are you in?" Of all the complex issues corporate leaders have to contend with, this simple query is probably the most troublesome. Knowing who you are, what you do, and why your prospects should do business with you seems like something that every business professional should be able to rattle-off at the drop of a business card. But ask this question and what you get is a rambling explanation of company products combined with a series of B-school platitudes about striving to work hard to deliver the best widget.

Call it a value proposition, an elevator pitch or simply your 'raison d'etre.' What matters is delivering your marketing message. First you must define it in as simple terms as possible; then you must refine it into an accurate, articulate and understandable statement; and then you must deliver it in a memorable fashion in everything you do, at every meeting you attend, and on every website, email campaign, landing page, and digital presentation you make.

Understanding the Medium

The Web is a communication environment where its practitioners have ignored

the basic building block of effective communication - the sound of the human voice. Nothing makes us sit-up and take notice more than the sound of the human voice. It is an evolutionary imperative driven by the earliest recollections of our mother's voice and the reassurance of the protective psychological cocoon it created.

The sound of our name, or that of someone familiar, stops us dead in our tracks. No image, no text, no layout pattern has the Pavlovian effect of the sound of the human voice. It is the most powerful, the most memorable, and the most effective means of communication we have. It demands our attention and as Web-marketers we ignore it at our corporate peril.

There has developed over time a Web-orthodoxy, a set of acceptable ways of doing things, a litany of dos and don'ts that if scrutinized in the light-of-day prove to be next to useless - useless in doing what needs to be done - creating a memorable user experience that results in turning traffic into customers. If your audience can't hear what you're saying, how do you expect them to respond to your call to action?

Delivering the Message

So now you know you need to define and package your marketing message in a memorable verbal narrative that can be delivered using cutting-edge webmedia techniques on the high-speed broadband environment that now exists. Creating this memorable value statement is not just an exercise in marketing ingenuity but an assignment in business survival,

It takes 136 words to delivery a compelling sixty-second explanation of why customers should do business with you; the most important 136 words of your business life.

How to Create Your 136 Words

1 List all the human attributes inherent in your business personality.

An accounting firm may want to project stability, reliability, and a conventional outlook - think the avuncular voice of Walter Cronkite. An advertising agency might want to deliver a hip, cutting edge, in your face creative personality - think the edgy delivery of Chris Rock or Dennis Leary. Now before you get all excited and start shouting, 'how I am I going to afford these guys?' the answer is you don't. There are great voice actors available at very reasonable prices that can project the desired style and delivery.

2 What are the audio qualities of the Signature Voice?

Do you want a man or a woman, or a combination of both? Do you want a deep base voice full of conviction, a snooty British accent dripping in condescension, or a comic rapid-fire patter aimed to amuse and entertain?

3 What kind of language, phrasing, and cadence is required to give the Signature Voice its personality?

When we were looking for a Signature Voice for a DVD that was to be used at the Winter Baseball Meetings, we decided on a combination of Dizzy Dean and Mel Allen. The key was that 'good ole boy' southern charm conveyed through a combination of baseball jargon, phrasing, and dialect. We weren't looking for someone to imitate Dizzy Dean, just someone who could deliver the essence of Dizzy's love for the game.

4 Wet or Dry?

Have you ever watched one of those 'The Making of ...' documentaries on a how a movie was made? Sometimes they will show you a scene with dialog but no music or sound effects. It's really very flat, even with the actors doing their dramatic best. Voice without music or sound effects is called a 'Dry' delivery. When the effects and the music are added in postproduction, the scene delivers real emotional impact. The music and f/x provide emotional clues and memory hooks.

5 Write the script.

I find having the voice in my head is a great help in writing the script. Whether you're shooting for Sidney Greenstreet or Rod Serling, the cadence, phrasing, and language are what makes the script come alive, and creates the signature sound that will represent your company. Unrelated to the actual voice but definitely of importance to the script, is the point of view. The script should not be about you, it should be about how your audience can benefit from knowing you. Don't fall into the trap of focusing on you and listing a bunch of product or service features. Talk about what you can do for your audience, and in that way you will make a real connection.

6 Audition the talent.

Once you have a script, it's time to audition a number of voices to find the one that fits what you're looking for, and of course the price you are willing to pay. We generally have 50 to 100 people audition for each script. We then narrow the search down to the two or three best voices that fit the audio and budget requirements and present them to our client.

7 Implement on the Web.

Once the voice audio is complete, music and sound effects can be added if needed. The audio tracks are then cut into digestible clips, compressed, and converted into appropriate implementible files. The result can be delivered on a website, email campaign landing page, or digital presentation.

This article was published on Friday 10 November, 2006.
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