Thanks to the internet age, it's never been easier to connect with your target market. But that effortless access is also a double-edged sword. Since we can say anything we want instantly online, it's also easy to take for granted the importance of communicating clearly with your prospects.
Online, what you say makes or breaks the sale, and the content you distribute is all your prospective customers have to make a split-second decision about your product or services -- and your brand.
Your brand message has the potential to attract, engage, and secure a loyal client base -- if you stop getting in the way and let your prospects see what your company has to offer.
Here are the ways I've seen many online businesses go awry when it comes to communicating their brand message, and how to remedy the problems:
Here's a test. Conduct a search of 10 websites, and see how many you find that read something like this: "Our award-winning business has been named Local Business of the Year for 3 years. Our team of experts delivers on time, every time. With our decades of experience with business consulting, you can trust us to get your business back on track."
This list of accolades and accomplishments communicates to prospects that touting your self-image is your primary goal. It's this kind of company-centric messaging that repels your clients and makes it difficult for them to truly connect with your brand.
Check your brand's ego, and focus on the benefits your clients can expect from your company -- in your web copy, emails, and social media updates. While it's important to share your accomplishments, it's not needed on every page.
To showcase your accolades in a more appealing way, opt for customer testimonials. Dedicate a page of your site to your rave reviews and include positive blurbs on your sales pages and in your emails. Testimonials not only highlight your success, but they also show your clients the experience they can expect should they partner with your business.
One of the quickest ways to lose your prospects at the gate is to keep them guessing and frustrated about what you offer. Take a look at your messaging and ask yourself if you are clearly communicating exactly what you offer and the benefits to clients.
If you answered "yes" to any of these, then you have some work to do.
Get your message back on track, keeping your content simple and up-to-date. Be sure to combine what you offer with the benefits your prospects will see from your product or service. Most importantly, be consistent, and make sure all platforms are user-friendly.
Is there anything more irritating than this kind of message? It's like a late-night infomercial, minus the product demos. The problem with this kind of brand message is that it's telling the audience what to think or feel, rather than invoking a natural response by engaging them with interesting content and creating desire.
The fix? Show, don't tell. Appeal to your audience with benefit-centered content, customer testimonials, and engaging information, such as your brand story. Invite your audience to interact with your brand via social media or in an intimate Google+ hangout, and ask them questions to make them part of the conversation.
The golden rule of the internet: More is not better when it comes to web content. If your message is jumbled in pages and pages of web copy, or your website is hard to navigate due to vague (or no) calls-to-action or a never-ending navigation bar, count on your audience to tune out and click away as fast as they came.
Instead, streamline your content and keep it to the point. Your prospects come to your page looking for direction, so don't be shy or meek with your calls-to-action. The more straightforward your call-to-action, the easier your prospects can complete the action you want them to take.
Writing for the web means writing for the layman. You must use words and language your average viewers will easily comprehend. And so we're clear, industry jargon is always a $10 word.
Keep your audience in the loop by speaking directly to them in your online content with language they understand: benefits.
If you apply these tips to your brand message, you'll not only retain the attention of your prospective clients, but you'll also build a connection that keeps them coming back to your business.
Michelle Salater is the CEO of Sumèr.
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