When Pepsi (or Coca-Cola — I don’t care) make a marketing plan, they are secure in the knowledge that the great majority of their visitors know these two things:
- what they offer
- how to get it
Practically everyone is aware that Pepsi is a soft drink. They know how to go to a store and buy it off the shelf.
Now, here’s a really important question to ask yourself: are you Pepsi? Are you so familiar to your visitors that they will know, immediately upon seeing your website, what you offer and how to get some of it?
Are you Pepsi? If not, are you marketing like Pepsi?
Here’s another way to think about this question: do you want strangers to visit you? If you only need to talk to your current clients and customers, then you don’t need to worry about first impressions. If you want to reach beyond your current audience and gain new clients and customers, you need to think about how strangers will perceive you.
When someone sees your website on the search engine’s results page and clicks through to check you out, you have less than fifteen seconds to capture their attention before they click back to the results page and try someone else.
You don’t want them to spend those fifteen seconds saying, “Huh?” Make sure that your visitor can tell what you have to offer, and what they need to do to get it.
Have that information right there at the top of the homepage. Not on the About Us page, not at the bottom where people who won’t scroll won’t find it, and not tucked away on a sidebar on the lower right. Actually, it’s fine to have a clear statement of what you offer and how to get it in all those places, but you absolutely must have it on the homepage.
Here’s how you can tell whether your message is clear: get a stranger to visit your website.
I leave it up to you to determine precisely what you will do to entice strangers to do this. I just ask them.
Then, once they’ve looked, say, “What do you think this person/company/organization does?”
If they can’t tell right away — like, as clearly as “It’s a soft drink and I can buy it in the grocery store” — then you need to fix that.
On the other hand, if you are as famous as Pepsi, then you can have anything you like on your web page. Pepsi, in case you’re wondering, has nothing about soft drinks or grocery stores at all.