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.
Last week I had a strange and somewhat shocking experience which inspired a post. I accidentally asked Erika Napolitana if she would be interested in running it and quite surprisingly (or not) she accepted, so it now lives here.
The short story: people hurt, people break, people struggle and life can be really tough.
We all, no matter how poor we are, can give. In the spirit of Christmas and with the hope that you will all carry this into the new year and beyond:
So I’ve had the blogosphere positively bombard me with remarks, tweets, and articles about thanksgiving. Which is cool, if a bit odd for a European.
We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Europe, unfortunately, though we do eat turkey.
Thing is, in Holland turkey is eaten at Christmas. Nothing wrong with that. What really sucks though is that the traditional way to cook the bugger is to first stuff is with a mix of minced meat and chestnuts, and then stick the whole lot in the oven.
Twenty years ago when I was just a young, green, and clueless novice monk, our abbot called me in and sat me down.
“It’s not that you’re a liar, but you’ve got a problem with telling the truth. You need to change that.”
Of course, it was a bit of a blow, since I considered myself anything other than a liar, but seeing how obedience goes with being or becoming a monk, I got down to work and spent the following years contemplating ‘Truth’ and observing my behavior.
Slowly it dawned on me that he was right. I didn’t tell lies, but I tended to present things in a way that was beneficial to my goals and so I would bend the truth, rather than break it.
So I changed it. I resolved to never say anything that I knew was untrue, and never to misrepresent things in a way that suited my purposes.
Years later, after I’d become a truthful Ethic whose lips never uttered a lie (note the self-sarcasm, thank you) someone pointed out that I was manipulative. Another heavy blow. I only wanted the best for others, right? Win-win for the world etc? So why was I being accused of this?
Those of you who know me will remember that a few years ago, I used to drive a splendid red classic convertible. A Saab 900, 1987. Wonderful machine, wonderful handling and quite a mover. But it had some issues and it had to be repaired every now and then. My house mates at that time were unanimous: ‘Sell it. Get yourself a modern car, something decent. Martin, you’re going to burn your money on that car.’
So for once I thought I’d do something smart: I followed their advice. I’m not pointing fingers here, but it was the stupidest thing I ever did. That and perhaps that time I decided to see what would happen if I pulled the handbrake on a snowed-under road in the forest. (Not while driving my Saab though). Long cold walk to civilization, I can tell you.