If you’ve ever lived through planning a tradeshow, you know it takes months to prepare. Picking out just the right booth setup, dreaming up an eye catching design, coming up with swag that won’t immediately end up in the junk drawer, and rehearsing your sales pitch in the mirror (yeah, we all do it) all in an effort to catch eyes and set up a stream of business for the next season. You can always count on tradeshows to collect business cards, make a good first impression on potential clients, and get inspired by other products at the show.
…that is, until you can’t.
At this point, you’ve probably gotten over the initial shock that trade shows aren’t happening for the foreseeable future, and every day you are faced with the question of: what now? The truth is, the answers are multi-faceted, and there is not one path to go down. Creativity in marketing means there are always multiple approaches to achieve a desired outcome. If the outcome is to showcase your business in products just as effectively as you might have at a tradeshow without a physical booth, then I’m giving you one possible solution: look at your website.
The good news for you during this time is that websites have the potential to do virtually what a tradeshow booth can do physically: allowing your brand and product to be displayed in a way that is visually attractive while clearly communicating the problem that it can solve for potential customers. Though the mechanisms vary, the same goal can be accomplished with a website as a tradeshow booth- as long as it is done correctly.
Here are 5 diagnostic questions to help you determine whether your website is in shape to serve as your new tradeshow booth:
1. Can someone tell exactly what you do in the first 10 seconds?
Oftentimes we see two extremes with websites: a beautiful image with vague words that confuse, or a paragraph of text that the average attention span is going to skip right over. When a customer visits your tradeshow booth and asks you to tell them about the service or product your company provides, you’re not going to give them some abstract, trendy saying, nor are you going to dive into a 5-minute speech. You’re going to give them a few sentences that summarize what you do. The same should be true of the messaging on your homepage.
2. Do you describe the problem that your customer faces?
Think about the last time you bought something. If you boil it down, there was likely a problem you were trying to solve by purchasing. You bought a bowl of pasta at a restaurant because you knew it would be a hearty, filling meal to stop your rumbling stomach. You bought cold medicine because the box promised to relieve you of your cough and congestion. If you have a product or service worth selling, then it is solving a problem for your customer. Clearly identifying the problem shows empathy, and presenting the solution shows that you are an authority to solve that problem.
3. Can your contact information be easily spotted?
If your customer has to scroll all the way down to find a contact form, you’ve likely already lost a portion of your website visitors. If someone came up to you and asked for a business card or a way to get in touch, would you offer to show them examples of your work? Of course not. So why is this section of your website more prominent than your contact section? Just as you would have your business card readily on hand for a tradeshow, you should have a clear button for your customer to get in touch.
4. Does your website give a clear path to doing business with you?
We all want to know what to expect. It’s human nature to avoid the unknown. So sometimes “give us your email and we’ll reach out” doesn’t always compel people who are eager to know what it may look like to get a business conversation started. They’ll likely move on to another site with clearer answers. You’ve worked hard to give them a picture of the destination (success in doing business with you) so be sure you give a clear roadmap of how you get there, or else they will be hesitant to take the first step.
5. Does your website use confusing language or jargon?
I once made the mistake of using the term “CTA” when speaking to a customer on a call. What is everyday marketing lingo around our office was an unknown acronym that may as well have been Hebrew to my customer. Take a look at your website and read it through the eyes of a teenager. Would they know what you were talking about? If not, you’re likely confusing your audience.
Don’t be surprised if some of these questions exposed areas of weakness in your website – there are so many websites out there that are “pretty but dumb” or “smart but disorganized”. It takes a good deal of strategy to craft website content in a way that is concise yet compelling, informative yet engaging, and clear enough to sell in the minute or two spent on the site. Give your website the TLC you would have given your tradeshow booth, because it’s the next best thing.
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