Recently, I had the pleasure of reading through Scott Stratten’s work, unMarketing. It’s a clear, fresh and easy ready and I encourage you to take it on as part of your Friday resource reading (a habit I highly encourage).
Stratten explores the concept of unmarketing in a realistic, clever way that won’t really “surprise” you, but will definitely help you. He spends time in the book talking specifically about what an unmarketed website looks like, more importantly how an unmarketed website behaves. Let’s dig in to that concept.
The shift from look to behave is important to understand right out of the gate. In a push marketing world, we think about our media as “platforms” and our communications talk is laced with distance-invoking words like “look and feel” as opposed to thinking about our messaging in human terms, “be and do” for example.
Successful organizations are not pushy. We want to pull, attract, engage, inspire, visit, serve. Get the shift?
In an unmarketed world how your website behaves is far more significant than how it looks (design friends, don’t worry we come back to you at the end). How your website talks is more crucial than what it says.
Get it? Good.
Here are my thoughts about Stratten’s 7 ideas for unmarketing your (nonprofit) website.
Brochure vs. Hub
I’m as guilty of this as the next person, which is why purePR is currently planning a major gut-and-re-serve of our website. Is your website a slightly glossier form of a great brochure? Sure, it might be really really good, but if it’s not a hub of activity and energy and conversation, something’s not quite right.
I recently discovered a neat site called Dream Year, a project from the very creative Ben Arment, and this site is a terrific example of a hub. What hub-like examples can you share with the class? Post them below or at the purePR Facebook page.
Pitch vs. Authenticity
If I hear words like transparent and authentic used once more as the goal of organizational communications, I think I’ll just start giggling. YES, these words really matter, but what do they mean? I don’t believe many organizations have figured that out just yet.
By transforming your website into an unmarketed success, you need to dramatically change your tone from PITCH (all about landing the sale, nabbing the new student, garnering the donor dollars) to authentic conversation.
Start with the other. Talk about why you went into operation, mission, or business to begin with. What problems are you there to solve? And how is your organization uniquely suited to make it happen? Where do you struggle, and how can your members help?
Here’s a test: Look at your website, remove your business or organization or school or church name and replace it with one of your “competitors”. Does the content need to change or could the site just as easily be their’s?
Go fix that.
|Image Source: iStock Photo|
Static vs. Dynamic
This one is easy. Have a content plan. Refresh your visuals. Tell your story in a constant and changing way.
Leaving your page “be” is like leaving your Christmas lights up until February. The neighbors start to talk.
Our site vs. Your site
Look at your site. Is the content more about your organization or about the people you are trying to reach and serve? And don’t kid yourself. We often think we’re writing “for” or “to” the other, and it’s really just all about our stuff.
You want to write about and alongside the other.
I’m great vs. You’re Great
Similar idea as above. And this perspective shifts things like: How you orient the site, what images you use, what honesty you put forward.
When you decide to make the fundamental shift to have a hub like website that is focused more on the other than on self, absolutely everything changes (for the better, by the way).
Jungle vs. Map
I once heard someone say that the best iteration of a website is very often the first one. That’s the one where people thought a lot about the navigation and often committee-d it to death to get the thing “just right.” And it was very good.
But then people forgot how to say that all important word in web and social design, “no.”
No is super important (and may be a good theme for a future post). Is your site intuitive from the perspective of the folks you want to serve or reach? Do you use their language or do you force them to understand your internal organizational structure just to access your site? Make it clean and easy.
Literally think through how different types of users might access your site and what questions they are bringing to the site (after all, most of us search Google with a question in mind, right?), and how might they naturally access your site to move from message to message, point to point.
Go build that site.
High vs. Low Barrier to Engagement
I experienced this one today. A neat email came through from a popular guru I follow in the PR world. The tease was for a white paper related to PR and crisis management. It looked valuable, I clicked. The site I reached didn’t just ask me for my name and email (which is ALL they need, especially on a first date, right?). The site asked me for about 15 different pieces of data.
Who has time? Click. Bye bye.
Is your site easy to access? Can a new user join the party? Do you have an area that is members only? That is particularly creepy on church websites. I was on a church site recently with very little information available, but on every page I saw this little icon that said, “15 members are active in the members only area” … I kept wondering, “what’s happening in THERE?” “How can I get in on THAT?”
I couldn’t find a way in. Click. Bye bye.
So these are my thoughts on how best to unmarket your website. There are other tricks, too: don’t make your hours (for churches: read service times) hard to find, tell stories, and make sure you’re working on a mobile site! But these 7 will get you started.
Remember, at the core it really isn’t as much about how you look as how you are (this is true in life, too). Sure, the graphic design makes a big big difference in the total experience, but start with your tone and direction. Start by shifting your focus, re-composing yourself, presenting as a live, natural, engaged brand and not as a pushy salesy place.
You’re going to like who you meet in the process.