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Breaking Down the Message

When we break down the elements, they look like this:

NOTE

These are not design elements, but message elements that needed to be presented to the site visitor. Your IT staff would then take these elements and design and program them into the home page.

  1. A four-point message in the tagline, repeated in the home page copy with brief explanations

  2. A quick way to show ease of use—a major selling point

  3. A combination house list builder and promotion element

  4. A testimonial

  5. A "What's in it for me?" description of the product with a "call to action"

Let's take a closer look at each element.

  1. The four-point product message consisted of ease of use, flexible, premium quality, and economical. The words fast, flexible, quality, and economical were used in the tagline. They were also repeated in the home page copy with a brief "promotional" explanation of each.

  2. To reinforce the "ease of use" message, the four steps of actually producing a postcard were represented with simple graphics. The small graphic showed the easy four-step process: upload your image, add your message, address the cards, and then check out. This was a way to present the features, rather than the benefits.

  3. Building a house list for future email promotion is very important to a business. The home page is the perfect place to ask for a visitor's email address. The challenge is to give a visitor a reason why. In my client's case, it was simple: Offer the visitor a chance to create and send a free personal postcard. In the process, acquire their email address for the house list. By the way, this was another good way to show the features of the product.

  4. Because this was a rather new and untried direct marketing communications vehicle for businesses, potential clients might need a little help in believing in the product and its results. A testimonial from the business community filled the bill and endorsed the product.

  5. Marketing copy presented the "What's in it for me?" element. This copy presented the benefits, not features of the product (as we say in the marketing world, "the sizzle, not the steak"). This copy came from the marketing staff. This element presented a "call to action" directive: "Create Your Postcards Now."

One last important point.

All of these message elements point to navigation elements on the website. In a new site, the message elements help in designing the navigation. In a site-improvement project, new navigation elements may need to be added to the site.

For example, the main navigation of the site would include the usual top organizational navigation, such as the following items:

  • About Us
  • Products and Services
  • FAQs
  • Client Login
  • Privacy Statement
  • Join Our Affiliate Program
  • Contact Us

But the message elements on the home page also point to pages that are not necessarily in the general navigation elements of the site. For example, the testimonial would have a link under it pointing to a testimonial page with quotes from other satisfied clients. In addition to the "call to action" link from the business benefits copy (on my client's site, "Create Your Postcards Now"), a "Tell Me More" link should point to pages within the site to further sell the need for the product to site visitors. These pages would also be reachable from the "Products and Services" link in the top navigation of the site.

By the way, these "Products and Services' pages—covering a variety of market niches that sell the need for such products and services—will become very important later on, when your IT staff has to optimize the site for search engines. I'll get to that in a later installment of this series.

Follow the basic instructions above, and you'll go a long way toward communicating a clear and concise selling position straight from your home page.

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