Living on Pretzel Time
You think living on Internet time is tough? Try living on pretzel time.
I did last Saturday. You see, I was at the local movie theater, watching "The Aviator," when I started to get really hungry. (Like an idiot I had skipped breakfast and lunch.)
Sitting there in the dark, I reasoned that if I raced out to the lobby, quickly bought a pretzel and sprinted back to my seat, I wouldn't miss too much of the movie.
So I waited for a slow, "talky" scene to start, then I made my move. Like a shot, I bolted from my seat and dashed for the lobby. I expected to shout my order to the kid behind the counter, grab my salty prize and hot-foot it back to my seat.
But, it was not to be. Instead, the lobby was jammed with a big crowd waiting to see "Fat Albert." Which meant there was a long, long line at the refreshment counter, and I was in big trouble.
Starvation was not an option, so I joined the line. Behind the guy who slowwwwwwwwly ordered his unspeakable hot dog. Behind the endless kids figuring out whether they really wanted butter on their popcorn.
It was hell. The people in line were in no rush at all. They had a movie quiz slide show and four trailers to sit through. But for me, living on the edge, living on pretzel time, every second spent in the lobby was a second I was missing from my movie.
I couldn't very well start screaming, "I want a pretzel and I want it NOW!" (People already were picking up on some signs of severe agitation.) So I waited endlessly until I got my precious pretzel, and then, assisted by a massive adrenaline rush, sprinted back to my seat.
If you're a Web marketer, these days you probably feel like you're living on pretzel time, too. You feel like you want to move quickly, but no matter how fast you go, it's never fast enough. You know what I mean. We all have so much we want to accomplish and so much work to complete, that we're all hurried and harried.
That's why I think we have to maintain focus. We have to try to do a few things right instead of a thousand things in a half-baked way.
Let's talk about Web sites. There are many, many things that deserve attention, but if you're pressed, how about making sure you do these three crucial things correctly:
1. Make sure your home page is a winner. As you know, the organization and "atmosphere" you create on your home page is critical. So don't worry about providing detailed bios of your key people or any of the other frills, until you've got a home page you're happy with. Is your home page simple and clear? Does it do a good job of instantly communicating your true business personality? These are things worth spending your precious time on.
2. Make sure you're delivering quality content. Better a little bit of useful content than several tons of brochureware. Visitors to your site want information they can use, not a lot of puffery. Sure you've got to sell your product or service, but don't forget to provide something of true value to your visitors.
3. Make sure you're building an ongoing relationship with visitors. Don't let them poke around anonymously, then disappear into the void forever. Think hard about how you can establish an ongoing relationship that ultimately turns into a sale. For more on this important subject, read Seth Godin's fabulous book, "Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers Into Friends, and Friends Into Customers." I recommend it highly.
The take-away message this month?
If you're a Web marketer who's pressed for time and resources (and who isn't), stay focused on the most important Web site success factors. Living on Internet time, or pretzel time, isn't fun, but you can still do just fine if you pay attention to what really matters.
Ivan Levison is a freelance direct response copywriter who works for companies like Bank of America, Fireman's Fund, Intel, Microsoft and many others. Levison writes direct mail sales letters, e-mail letters and ads. For a free subscription to his monthly e-mail newsletter for software marketers, visit his Web site at http://www.levison.com. He can be reached at (415) 461-0672 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.