It was a cold, dark, rainy night in 1997. Colin Beveridge and a friend were trying to hitchhike their way to Paris, and it wasn’t working out very well. Soaked and cold to the bone, they had little hope to flag a ride.
Suddenly, an icecream van drove up and pulled over. The driver had finished work and was on his way home. And hey, why would you not stop to pick up a hitchhiker?
That event made Colin into a loyal fan of the brand. I don’t know if it’s because Ben & Jerry’s tell their employees to just be really cool people, or if the driver acted on a whim, taking a risk – but it’s not relevant.
What matters is that ‘the brand’ did something that my friend Sandi Amorim told me about last week.
Noir stared at the screen. “What the… How can people rank at position four, first page of Google, with such a completely useless site?”
He didn’t get it. The site looked basic and clean; what little content was there was quite good; but that was IT. No call to action. No way to opt in to anything.
No phone number. No picture of the owner. No email address in sight anywhere on the entire website… The thing was a disaster.
He frowned, and hollered: “Stellar! In my office, NOW.
“Look at this crud, would you? This here accountant ranks above major companies with vast marketing budgets. But there is no conversion going on, not in any way. This site is seeing more bounces than a basketball at an NBA tournament.
“How do you rationalize SEO’ing the crap out of a site that doesn’t convert?”
He shot a viciously angry look at Stellar, who flinched just a little.
“I dug up their phone number, and you don’t even want to know how big of a favour I owe to the DA for that.
“Get that lady on the phone, and ask her if she wants us to fix her lead generation. Get to it Stellar, I need a nap.”
With that he sank back in his chair, put his feet on the desk and pulled his pork pie hat over his eyes.
I picked up the note with the number and dialled as I walked back to my desk. “Hello, Mrs. Lopez? It’s Martin Stellar here, do you have a minute?”
We had a very pleasant talk and she agreed fully that her site was doing nothing but waste the traffic she’s getting. In order to start small and first see results (more inbound leads), she decided to start with a Copy Optimisation Report.
I Didn’t Invent This – Every Day I See Sites Like That
You wouldn’t believe how many businesses get nearly everything right, except for one crucial detail. Sometimes the site is awesome and built for conversion, but the traffic they get comes from the wrong sources.
Sometimes traffic is high and hot, the site converts and a list is being built – but there’s no autoresponder (BIG effing mistake, that one).
In other cases, the design rocks, the conversion is built in, everything checks out, except… the actual copy is all ‘me, me, me’. (Pro tip: You don’t matter. Your customers do. Try writing your copy without using the word ‘I’)
If you’re running a business, and your website isn’t getting you more of that business, something is broken.
If you yourself can’t figure out exactly what, then for Pete’s sake, hire someone who can.
There’s no excuse for running an engine on three cylinders, especially since firing up number four often amounts to no more than smart, strategic tweaks.
I gotta go. Noir is shouting from across the hall, demanding to know what came of the call.
Let’s do a little thought experiment related to ethics and morality in marketing.
Yes, it’s a mouthful. But don’t worry: I don’t have the answers to this one so I won’t pontificate. Much.
The other day, my cat fell ill, and he rapidly got worse. Feline leukemia can exist in the body for years without causing illness, but once it does the cat won’t survive for very long.
At some point I had to decide: Have him put to sleep, or try to keep him alive a bit longer? If you think I’m cruel for wanting him to live on despite an illness – I’m not cruel.
There was no indication that he was suffering, none at all. He was skinny and he slept a lot, but he still washed, ate, drank… like any healthy cat, just more slowly.
In the end of course, his condition got so bad that there was no other choice, and the vet came round to… well you know.
It makes me wonder: As human beings, we can decide on behalf of animals. We can determine that the suffering has lasted long enough. We’re the ones who ‘know’ that ‘it’s cruel’, or ‘it’s inhumane’, or that ‘he should be put out of his misery’.
To me, it raises a moral question: How well do we really know what’s best for others?
This isn’t just about pets: It also relates to people, and specifically to business. More specifically: Marketing.