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September 25, 2007

A Website Without Video Is Like Jell-O Without Whip Cream

Do you like Jell-O? It’s Okay I guess; I mean it’s not a hot fudge sundae is it? But if you add a little whip cream, then my friend you’ve got something worth calling dessert. My question to you is, does your website have that something extra, that dollop of whip cream on top that says, “oh mama let me at it,” or does it just lie there squirming in your dish with the sound of Peggy Lee’s voice ringing in your ears, “is that all there is?”

If your website disappointments, you need something that provides the ‘eureka factor’ and that can be provided with a creative, informative Web-video.

The Chicago Bulls Without Michael Jordan

How the mighty have fallen, at least in terms of brand personality. I mean it’s not like the Chicago Bulls stink? It’s just that without MJ they’re not the Chicago Bulls of old. When Michael played we all watched, he was magic, he wasn’t just a great basketball player, he was a great personality and he gave the team it’s character; no Michael, no personality.

Is your website like the new Chicago Bulls, a talented group of players with skills but no singular personality? Time for a humanity injection, add a Web-video featuring a signature character host who can generate some excitement and establish your unique business personality.

Television Without Sound

You’re watching your favorite television show, say CSI, the Vegas one not Miami, and the phone rings. It’s your mother. You turn the television’s sound down so you can hear her but you’re still watching the show. You love your Mom but Grissom has just discovered a new miniature killer clue and you need to know what is going on, but your Mom is carrying on about how your Dad needs new dentures or something… Frustrating. No audio, no information.

Does your website have the same effect as watching television without the sound. It’s there, people visit, but they leave without getting your message. Time to add a little life to your presentation in the form of a Web-video that tells your story out loud.

Words Without Meaning

Have you ever reread someone’s website copy several times and still not understood what the heck they’re trying to tell you, or maybe you understand every word but still can’t figure out what they’re selling?

Words have meaning, they are meant to convey a message not hide it. A lousy video script is no better than lousy print copy. Your Web-audience has no patience for mumbo-jumbo that masquerades as information or for text and dialog that says nothing in as many words as possible in an effort to attract the search engines. Words have meaning, say them with style and deliver them with conviction.

The Rumba Without Rhythm

Have you ever sat at a wedding and watched people dance? There are the people who know how to move, how to respond to the their partners and to communicate with the slightest of gestures or movements. And then there are the others who look like they’ve got something icky stuck to the bottom of their shoes and are trying desperately to remove it.

If you want to communicate to your audience, you have to use all the techniques available. Communication is more than just copy, its voice, gesture, movement and meaningful dialog.

Romance Without Kisses

Ah … the first kiss, something special that can seal a relationship or sour it forever. Your landing page is like that first embrace. Is yours as exciting as it could be, or is it like the guy who spends the entire first date talking about his double entry booking keeping skills?

A well-crafted, expertly presented marketing message is like a seduction; if you’re not generating any excitement don’t expect to produce any sales either. Boring mission statement gobbledygook and keyword-laden palaver are not the same as an enticing video. An engaging business story, well told, is like a juicy wet-one planted right on your audience’s lips.

A Joke Without A Punch Line

Everybody likes a funny story. A good joke is nothing more than a short story with a set-up, an escalation, and a twist, but the real key to a good story lies in the telling. Even comedians with second-rate material can get their audience’s howling if they know how to deliver their material.

It’s all well and good to repeat the mantra, “websites are about content,” but if that content isn’t delivered with some style and panache, don’t expect anybody to pay much attention.

A Song Without A Hook

Hit songs are highly structured stories with verses that function as chapters or acts, and a chorus that provides the hook that sticks in your audience’s heads. Add a toe tapping beat and some instrumental flourishes and you’ve got something that people will listen to over and over again.

Does that sound like your website presentation? Are people willing to come back to your site just to watch your presentation, or does your website leave visitors with a ‘been there, done that’ impression?

Information Without Knowledge

Just because you’re in business doesn’t mean you’ve got to be boring. And just because you dump a lot of facts and figures and bulleted points onto your Web-pages doesn’t mean you’re making a convincing argument for anyone to buy your stuff.

Web audiences demand more. If you won’t give it to them, you can be sure someone else will, like maybe your competition.

Interactivity Without Purpose

Can we all just stop and take a breath and think about this whole interactivity thing. Let’s all get interactive, why? I mean what is interactivity anyway? Is it developing a hugely expensive game that people can play on your website to avoid working, or is it getting them to click on the “Tell Me More” button?

I vote for the interactivity that leads to opening a dialogue with a potential client, one that gets visitors to pick up the phone and call you to discuss their needs, not the one that generates a “Game Over” message. Of course that assumes you’re willing to actually talk to customers.

Frequency Without Resonance

I happened to like vinegar on my fries, Okay it’s weird I admit it, but the Dutch like mayonnaise on theirs, even weirder. I once had a chef in a Tucson restaurant come out of the kitchen and confront me when I asked the waiter for vinegar (it’s a Canadian thing). The chef approached the table and asked who ordered the vinegar? I reluctantly raised my hand. “You must be from Canada,” he said, “I’m from Victoria, where you from?”

Good advertising is all about delivering a message that resonates with your audience. It doesn’t matter how many times you run an advertisement if that advertisement doesn’t make an impression on your audience. You can’t be afraid to be creative or even a bit weird.

Humor Without Laughter

Dr. Max Sutherland in his e-mail newsletter report, “False Alarm Theory: How Humorous Ads Work” describes how laughter is a hardwired residual mechanism that developed in our ape days as an ‘all clear’ signal once a danger had past. The ‘all clear’ message is passed on from one ape to another, until the entire troop is screeching with the ecstasy of survival.

A guy slips on a banana and breaks his neck – that’s not funny. A guy slips on a banana, jumps up and looks around to see if anybody saw – that’s funny. Humor is based on creating some sense of uncertainty or tension that is ultimately relieved with a humorous punch line or comforting resolution. The safe or amusing resolution creates a chain reaction in the audience that signals, “hay guys, all is well; everything is back to normal.”

Without tension there can be no relief, no opportunity for an entertaining resolution that creates a cascading viral reaction among your audience. So don’t expect your website to be passed on to friends and colleagues unless you deliver a compelling presentation that offers the opportunity to signal the rest of the world that all is well.

Author:  Jerry Bader is Senior Partner at MRPwebmedia, a website design firm that specializes in Web-audio and Web-video. Visit http://www.mrpwebmedia.com/ads, http://www.136words.com, and http://www.sonicpersonality.com. Contact at info@mrpwebmedia.com or telephone (905) 764-1246.

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