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Increase Your Web Site’s Value: ‘Show, Don’t Tell’

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RISMEDIA, June 19, 2007-One of the biggest mistakes in Web marketing is when organizations simply create an egotistical site that provides long lists of features, says online thought leadership strategist and viral marketing expert David Meerman Scott.

“Novelists and actors use ‘show, don’t tell’ all the time,” Scott says. “They use action to communicate rather than stultifying narrative. To make a reader feel that a character is happy, a novelist could tell us that the character is happy through narration or have that character use dialog to say: ‘I’m happy.’ While either one gets the point across, these approaches are not nearly as effective as words that show that the character is happy, such as: ‘Her eyes sparkled and she danced a little jig.’ It’s the same on the Web, showing beats telling every time.”

The show, don’t tell rule applies as an effective way to create Web content that specifically addresses customer problems. And once you develop rapport with your online audience by showing them that you understand their problems, you can lead them to the goal of your site such as generating leads or making a sale.

“Where previously you might have listed the market segments your organization serves and the products you sell, it is better to create a library of customer stories that demonstrate in real-world scenarios of how organizations make use of your product,” Scott says. “You could include photos of the product in action or online demonstrations and tutorials. Online thought leadership content that shows how your organization solves customer problems is vastly more effective than simply listing products, or even writing all sorts of copy that tells how your product works.”

According to Scott, successful Web sites have a clearly defined goal-to sell products, generate leads, secure contributions or get people join-and deploy a content strategy that directly contributes to reaching that goal.

“At the best sites, content draws visitors into the buying cycle and channels them towards the place where action occurs,” Scott says. “The action mechanism is not hidden nor is the organization’s goal a secret. When online thought leadership content effectively drives action, the end of the process — an e-commerce company’s ‘buy’ button, the business-to-business corporation’s ‘contact’ form or non-profit’s ‘donate’ link — are found in logical places, based on content that leads people there.”

David Meerman Scott is an online thought leadership strategist and viral marketing expert. The programs he has developed have won numerous awards and are responsible for selling over one billion dollars in products and services worldwide.

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