Contrary Words Worth Hearing

    It’s the same thing with a Big Time Brand. It’s not about you. It’s not about your product. It’s not about your service. It’s about them. It’s about their problems and their solutions. And that’s an emotional contact. Sure, it’s driven by your strategic goals and objectives. But it’s the brand’s job to integrate the two of them to the point where they become inextricably intertwined.
    — Rob Frankel, “The Revenge of Brand X

As you can imagine, I get a lot of email, much of it from web site publishers struggling to come up with just the right means to make their sites more “sticky,” to attract more visitors, to get those big-dollar CPMs that only a handful of sites are getting.

One guy wrote me the other day asking about whether his site should use a mascot to give it personality. Another was wondering whether integrating more sound and animation would do the trick. Still another asked if I thought that having an avatar personally greeting visitors as they entered the site might really help the site stand out.

Given the current state of Dot-com Nation, there is an understandable air of desperation to their questions. They are under increasing pressure from their investors and their bosses to produce, to produce NOW, and to produce A LOT. The advice that I will now give them will no doubt go unheeded because it flies in the face of the need-it-yesterday Internet mentality. But I’ll say it anyway.

Take a deep breath. Relax. And listen to your customers. They’ll tell you what to do. Just do what they say.

There’s a corollary to this.

Don’t listen to “conventional wisdom.” Don’t be pressured by your boss and investors. Don’t do what Fast Company or Business 2.0 tells you to do. Don’t even do what ClickZ tells you to do!

Just listen to your customers and serve them in the way they need to be served.

I doubt that any of your customers care whether you have a mascot on your home page or will be impressed if an avatar greets them. Sound and animation might help you on a music or game site. Other than that, it’s all window-dressing.

What matters is that you become indispensable to them.

    Branding is not about getting your targets to choose you over your competition. Branding is about getting your prospects to see you as the only solution to their problem.”
    — Rob Frankel, “The Revenge of Brand X”

How do you become indispensable?

By putting your customers’ needs before your own. By responding to them in the way they need to be responded to.

By doing only what really matters to them and setting aside the inconsequential.

That is how you build a major brand.

That is how you build a successful, sustainable site-publishing business.

Your customers will be far more demanding and exacting than the toughest boss or the wiliest venture capitalist. But if you please the customer, the other two are a piece of cake.

And when you have some time, I encourage you to buy a copy of “The Revenge of Brand X” and read it. Tell my old friend Rob that Andy sent you!

Related reading