Dont Make These Mistakes (part 1)


Believing people care about you and your website.

These people laughing at your website because it does not meet their needs

Why? You designed your website for your needs, not theirs. It gets worse. After they stop laughing, they’re going to one of your competitors’ sites to buy something.

Write these two sentences where you can see them as you’re working:

The only reason my website exists is to solve my customers’ problems.
What problems does the page I’m looking at solve?

Nobody cares about you or your site.

Really. What visitors care about is solving their problems. Now. Most people visit a website to solve one or more of these four problems:

  • They want / need information
  • They want / need to make a purchase / donation.
  • They want / need to be entertained.
  • They want / need to be part of a community.

Too many organizations believe that a website is about opening a new marketing channel, getting donations, promote a brand, or increase company sales by 15%.

No. It’s about solving your customers’ problems. Have I said that phrase enough?

A man from Mars can’t figure out what your website is about in less than four seconds.

Here come the Martians

You should be able to look at the home page of any site and figure out what the site is about in less than four seconds. If you can’t, the site is a failure. 

What do they sell? What service do they offer? What is the point?

People who make Mistake #1 often end up making Mistake #2.

You may not be able to do anything about the name of your company if it does not tell your story but the tag line needs to AND be directed at solving a customer need.

Thanks to here are a bunch of meaningless taglines to show you what I mean:

Note: most of these are old – taken from a previous stage in the life of these companies – but all are real as far as we can tell. Please feel free to provide a more current list from brands you may know, and we’ll do another round later.

1. Ames Rubber: Excellence through total quality.
This tag is the ideal example of the “space filler” tag line. Just read it slowly and think about these words. It sounds like it’s supposed to mean something, but when you get right down to it, it’s an empty claim that any company could make about any product.

2. Denny’s: A good place to sit and eat.
Maybe you could use this in a market where people didn’t know that Denny’s was a restaurant? Like Mars?

3. Exxon: We’re Exxon.
Arguing with the simple blunt truth of this would be like denying the reality of a rocky shoreline in Alaska. Although to be fair, the rocks at least had a point.

4. Mobil: We want you to live.
Oh thank heaven. I’m so tired of gas stations that wish death upon me.

5. Holiday Inn: Pleasing people the world over.
“Pleasing people” and “the world over” are pleasant but empty phrases. “Making the world smile” wouldn’t be a great tag, but at least it would provide an image in the mind.

6. Jimmy Dean: Eat Jimmy Dean
Wrong on so many levels – particularly for those of us who think (wrongly) that this brand was named after a dead film star. But we can’t say it’s not memorable.

7. Playtex: Is that a Playtex under there?
This one conjures up a clear sensory image: the image of someone getting smacked hard. And deserving it.

8. Singer: We make it better.
Better than what? What is “it”? And why are you better?

9. ChevronTexaco: Turning partnership into energy.
That’s not true. Energy comes from oil. Dirty, dirty oil. Seriously, it’s great that you merged your companies, but try focusing on your customers.

10. Chrysler: Inspiration comes standard.
Not with my Neon it didn’t…

11. E.F. Hutton: When EFHutton talks, people listen.
Never liked this one – and not just because a) the company imploded in a blaze of scandal and b) corny commercials like the one below from the 80s.

12. Hallmark: When you care enough to send the very best.
Empty words + guilt trip = Hallmark. Not to mention if you actually cared, you’d make your own. But that’s beside the point.

13. National Cattlemen’s Beef: Beef. It’s what’s for dinner.
How presumptuous of you! You simply stated a fact that you assume to be true, and it’s not even appetizing.

14. Petco: Where the pets go.
Yes. I got that much from your name. Now, tell me more…

15. Quaker Oatmeal: Something to smile about.
I smile about a lot of things. Oatmeal is not one of them.

16. Toshiba: Choose freedom.
I would love to meet the consumer research team that told Toshiba that what their customers are looking for when buying a personal computer is “freedom”.

17. Verizon Wireless: We never stop working for you.
“Your call is very important to us, please stay on the line. We never stop working for you. Your call is very important to us, please…”

18. Zenith: The quality goes in before the name goes on.
See, our competitors put the name on first, then they put the quality in. It just doesn’t work that way.

19. Citibank: Where money lives.
Like a bed and breakfast? Or more of an apartment style?

20. Carlton Cigarettes: If you smoke, please smoke Carlton.
I can’t stop thinking that this must be a Canadian cigarette company – we’d never force you to smoke because its bad for you. But if you do, you might as well smoke ours!

Honorable mentions — the airline industry:

Airlines have been around for a long long time. You can no longer differentiate from your competition by saying, “We fly!”

21. British Airways: The way to fly.

22. Western Airlines: The only way to fly.

23. United Airlines: Time to fly.

24. Delta Airlines: We get you there.

25. Korean Air: Excellence in flight.

Remember the purpose of the tagline is to create an image or tell your customer what you do if your name does not.

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