We just got back from Inc. Magazine’s GROWCO Conference in New Orleans. We spent two days with 550 fellow entrepreneurs in every industry imaginable, and heard world-class speakers including President Bill Clinton, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and two of our favorites FUBU Founder and “Shark Tank” star Daymond John and Warby Parker Co-Founder Neil Blumenthal. The conference left us tremendously inspired and energized (ok, and drained too, it was New Orleans after all!).
Every speaker shared great insights into what made their businesses succeed, as well as the honest failures they endured along the way. Although each revealed their own perspectives and personal experiences, one sentiment shared by several of them most resonated with us as content marketers. Most businesses are not clear and concise in their message and are losing customers as a result. This is one of the founding inspirations on which Sprout Content was founded and is still an issue today.
Most company websites DO NOT:
- Tell their story
- Clearly and concisely explain what they really do or offer
- Identify who they are trying to help (target audience)
- Make it easy to buy their products or services
Since the creation of business websites in the late 1990’s these issues have plagued businesses. Unfortunately, they often still ring true because companies are not thinking through or sticking to their core brand propositions or message architecture. From your website people should very easily:
- Understand who you are (your brand story)
- Get a sense of your core values
- Identify your company culture
- Get a feel for your brand’s personality
- Know how you are going to make their lives easier
Even President Bill Clinton said, “Whenever possible simple is better than complicated.” If your website content isn’t communicating what your company does, sells or offers you will lose customers immediately. A terrific example of creating a clear message was given in the presentation by Neil Blumenthal, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of online eyeglass company Warby Parker. He said to remember that people can’t digest 10 different things at once; and to create a clear message, you must know and stick to your brand propositions. Having an established hierarchy of messages is essential to communicating clearly, and capturing the attention of your website visitors. Blumenthal and his team worked hard to identify their message architecture which is:
- They are first and foremost a fashion brand, creating stylish, quality, yet affordable glasses.
- Create a great customer experience (easy to buy, easy to return, free shipping/returns).
- Do good. They have a “buy one and give” philosophy and donate a pair of glasses to someone in need for every pair bought.
They are clear about their message hierarchy and stick to it. A lesson can certainly be learned from Warby Parker’s example. They hit their first-year sales target in three weeks, sold out of the top 15 styles and had a wait list of 20,000 customers after one month in business.
Less is more. For fear of “missing out” on the opportunity to do business with someone, many companies get overly verbose in their messages. FUBU founder and “Shark Tank” star Daymond John said that all companies should be able to explain what they are about in 2-5 words. Some examples he gave include iconic brands: Nike – Just do it, FUBU – For Us By Us, Apple – Think Different, BMW – The Ultimate Driving Machine. It comes down to a simple and concise business proposition and knowing your target audience. John also gave the wise advice of being laser focused and concise because, “You can’t hit a target you can’t see.”
Create compelling content and regularly interact with your customers. Being active in social media, quickly answering customer questions, asking for customer opinions, consistently blogging and delivering helpful, informative content creates a community for your brand. In order to create the fiercely local and enthusiastic fans and customers that brands like Warby Parker have, you must develop connections with your audience and talk to you customers like you know them personally. Blumenthal shared a powerful thought on this premise, “Make people feel connected and they will engage.” If you create compelling content and connect with your customers, they will become your brand ambassadors, and nothing boosts a businesses more than word-of-mouth referrals and recommendations.
There were so many inspiring lessons learned at GROWCO, but this flaw in business messaging is that most stuck with us at Sprout Content Can you describe what you’re about and what you offer in 2-5 words? If you need some help clarifying your message, download our Starter Guide on 11 Questions to Answer Before Creating Content.
We’d love to hear what you come up with!