Traditional marketing and communication techniques are becoming less and less valid on the Web.
There used to be a famous ad on Irish TV selling bacon and sausages that placed a lot of emphasis on the sizzle of the frying pan. And I have often been told that marketing is about selling the sizzle, not the sausage. Maybe on TV. Maybe in print. Not on the Web.
A couple of weeks ago I wanted to hire a van. I went to a van hire website and saw a big picture of a handsome smiling couple coming down some stairs with boxes in their hands. I've been moving a lot of boxes up and down stairs recently and I'll tell you one thing, I wasn't smiling as I did it.
I was also looking to hire a skip for household waste. I come to a skip hire website and there's a great big picture of a young handsome couple, standing back to back, looking at me. Yes, they were smiling effusively, with a big pile of rubbish behind them. What were they doing smiling? Why weren't they picking up the rubbish?
I wanted to find a house cleaner. I found a website and saw a great big picture of a very attractive lady, her hands behind her back, looking at me with, you guessed it, a smile on her face.
I wanted to buy some firewood. I arrived at this website and what did I see only another great big picture of a handsome young couple clinking glasses of wine while in the background a nice wood fire burned.
I urgently needed technical support and I arrived at the technical support website only to see a great big picture of a really smart and handsome-looking technical support guy. He had his hands behind his head and he was gazing out at me with a massive smile. Beside him was a great big heading: "NO HASSLES". No hassles? I wouldn't be at the stupid website if I didn't have hassles.
When customers arrive at a van hire website they're already interested in hiring a van. When they arrive at a skip hire website they're interested in hiring a skip. When they arrive at a house cleaner website they want to hire a house cleaner. When they arrive at a firewood website they want to buy firewood. When they arrive at a technical support website the last thing they need to see is someone with their hands behind their head smiling out at them.
Customers who want to hire a van want van sizes, they want prices, and they want to do it all really fast. Traditional marketing and communication just gets in the way on the Web. When customers come across smiley face hero shots and emotional language their instinctive response is: "This is marketing. I don't have time for this."
Customers don't need the big picture on the Web. They need the small details. They don't need to see clinking wine glasses when they want to buy firewood. Put the clinking glasses on the TV or in print. But don't put them on the Web. The Web is a different medium. Different medium. Different approach.